TPM News

Late last night, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)--a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus--issued a press release saying he had "grave concerns" that the White House is telling pro-reform groups that they will "cease supporting" the public option.

Though I can not confirm Grijalva's specific claim entirely, after a number of off-the-record conversations with congressional and advocacy sources, it's clear that many progressives are preparing themselves to be disappointed next week.

Low-level White House officials have reached out to certain reform groups that have staked their ground on the need for a public option, I'm told, and warned them not to spend any more money advocating for the policy--that it's just not worth it. That suggestion hasn't been heeded--at least for now. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Democracy for America raised over $100,000 to continue running this ad in Iowa after Congress returns from recess.

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RNC Chairman Michael Steele said the stimulus "was an economic experiment that failed Americans" in response to Vice President Biden's speech today on how the package has helped the economy.

Biden, in an address to the Brookings Institution marking the 200-day milestone of the implementation of the stimulus, said, "The recovery act has played a significant role in changing the trajectory of our economy, and changing the conversation in this country. Instead of talking about the beginning of a depression, we are talking about the end of a recession."

Here's the full statement from Steele:

Vice President Biden has been trying for 200 days to convince the American people the president's economic stimulus experiment is working, but just like their government-run health care scheme, no one is buying it. As the RNC's "200 Days, 200 Claims" report shows, the Democrats' rhetoric on their economic experiment doesn't match with the reality of millions of Americans remaining unemployed. The stimulus was an economic experiment that failed Americans, just like the government-run health care experiment will fail Americans. Two-hundred days of this stimulus are 200 days too long.

Biden also addressed health care reform in his speech, saying "we're gonna get something substantial," but "it's going to be an awful lot of screaming and hollering before we get there."

Vice President Biden, taking questions today after a speech on the stimulus act, said he thinks the administration is "gonna get something substantial" on health care reform, but "it's going to be an awful lot of screaming and hollering before we get there."

When asked to comment about the chances of passing a health care reform bill, Biden crossed himself and jokingly tried to dodge the question. "I do foreign policy, I don't do health care!"

But he went on to say that, in all his years in the Senate, he's never seen so many stakeholders invested in getting comprehensive health care reform. He listed consumers, hospitals, doctors and small businesses as some of those stakeholders.

"The prospects of success are high," he said.

He also told the audience at the Brookings Institute to "stay tuned" for President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday.

"It's a major speech laying out in understandable, clear terms what our administration wants to happen and what we're gonna push for in regard to health care," Biden said.

Levi Johnston's new article in Vanity Fair, in which he dishes all manner of dirt against his almost-mother-in-law Sarah Palin, is a real tour de force of family dysfunction, private dirt, and all-around personal contempt.

Much of the article is dedicated to telling people that the real Sarah Palin is not the wholesome, down-home mother that the public has been told about. According to Johnston, she doesn't pay attention to her kids, didn't work hard as governor, has an unhappy marriage with Todd, and rarely attends church. But perhaps the cruelest cut of all for this Republican superstar...she doesn't hunt and fish, either:

People think that Sarah likes hunting, fishing, and camping, but she doesn't. She says she goes hunting and lives off animal meat -- I've never seen it. I've never seen her touch a fishing pole. She had a gun in her bedroom and one day she asked me to show her how to shoot it. I asked her what kind of gun it was, and she said she didn't know, because it was in a box under her bed.

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It's one thing for a national cable network to feature a Nazi sympathizer as a political analyst, and refuse to answer questions about it. It's another for that network to actively promote that person's apologies for Hitler.

But that's what MSNBC is doing.

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Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has just announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, becoming the first candidate to officially announce a campaign.

Coakley paid tribute to the late Kennedy. "As some have noted, no one can fill his shoes, but we must try to follow in his footsteps," said Coakley. "I think we all realize that the urgency of this time is clear, and it is that urgency that drives my decision. Today, I announce my candidate for the United States Senate."

It's interesting that Coakley has not waited for word from other potential candidates -- especially former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, a son of Robert Kennedy and nephew of Ted Kennedy, who has been much speculated about as a possible player. Somebody had to get in first, and Coakley is it.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) is reiterating his dire warnings about President Obama imposing an authoritarian regime in the United States, the Athens Banner-Herald reports.

At a meeting of local Republicans last night, Broun said that Obama already has or will have the three key elements necessary to become a dictator: A national police force, gun control and control of the press.

"He has the three things that are necessary to establish an authoritarian government," Broun said. "And so we need to be ever-vigilant, because freedom is precious."

House Progressives are increasingly indicating that they're worried the White House will sacrifice the public option.

"Many Members of Congress -- including myself -- will not support a health insurance reform bill that does not break the strangle hold of private insurance companies on our health care system," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). "That requires that consumers have a choice of a robust public health insurance plan. I will support nothing short of a robust public health insurance plan upon implementation, no triggers. I believe Congress will pass and the President will sign such a bill this Fall."

Schakowsky is chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus' health care task force. She's also a close Obama ally and many progressives believe that if the White House wants House progressives to compromise further on the public option, it will turn to her first. For now she's saying she's not budging.

Last night, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus sent out a telling press release.

"I have grave concerns about calls reportedly being made from the Administration to health care reform advocacy organizations supporting the choice of a public option insurance plan," Grijalva said.

Grijalva said the White House is telling health care reformers, "they will cease supporting the public option portion of the upcoming health care reform legislation"

I truly expect the President to live up to the promises he has made to America about real change and that he truly stands for uninsured Americans and working families that need and are demanding a choice of a competitive public option when he addresses Wednesday's joint session of Congress.

Without a public option, this bill is not real reform. Real reform would lower and contain health care costs, precisely what inclusion of a public option would achieve. Without a robust public option, reform will enrich pharmaceutical and insurance companies because it will lack any significant competition and incentives to drive down health care costs for consumers.

Over 60 House progressives have vowed not to vote for legislation that doesn't include a public option--enough to ensure that a bill won't pass if they follow through.

Kennedy Memoir Does Not Ignore Personal Lows The New York Times reports that Ted Kennedy's upcoming memoir, True Compass, does not gloss over his personal flaws -- notably calling his behavior after his 1969 car accident, which killed Mary Jo Kopechne, "inexcusable." Kennedy also wrote: "I have enjoyed the company of women. I have enjoyed a stiff drink or two or three, and I've relished the smooth taste of a good wine. At times, I've enjoyed these pleasures too much. I've heard the tales about my exploits as a hell-raiser -- some accurate, some with a wisp of truth to them and some so outrageous that I can't imagine how anyone could really believe them."

Biden's Day Ahead Vice President Biden will deliver a speech at 10 a.m. ET today from the Brookings Institution, on progress that has been made under the stimulus bill. He will spend the remainder of the day in private meetings at the White House.

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