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Health care legislation will "probably include some additional revenue from well-to-do people," President Obama said in a Today show interview with Meredith Vieira that aired this morning.

"It's not punishing the rich," Obama said. "The way I look at it is, if I can afford to do a little bit more so that a whole bunch of families out there have a little more security, when I already have security, that's part of being a community."

The president also claimed that, despite the "hew and cry" that he's a tax-and-spend Democrat, "the only tax change I've made is to cut people's taxes."

That's not exactly true. In March, Obama signed a law upping the cigarette tax by 62 cents a pack.



Obama said the Congressional Budget Office has looked at some of his administration's health care proposals, "and they've said, you know, this has a good chance of working."

The CBO has said the proposed House bill won't cut health care costs. Obama said some of his proposals haven't been adopted by Congress yet.

According to the president, the CBO is saying that "the cost savings that are in those bills right now, some of them may work, but they're not enough to offset the additional costs of bringing in 46 million new people."

"I'm actually optimistic," he went on, "that at the end of the day we will have a bill that assures we're driving down costs over the long term, and in the short term, people have more security."

Obama: I Would Veto Tax On Health Benefits President Obama said in an interview with Jim Lehrer yesterday that he would veto a health bill care that taxed medical benefits. "Essentially employers would stop providing healthcare," said Obama. "John McCain had suggested everybody gets a tax credit, but the concern was that the tax credit wouldn't be sufficient to actually buy health insurance on the market. So I am still opposed to that and would veto a bill if that was the approach."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will deliver remarks on health care reform today, at 1:05 p.m. ET. At 1:20 p.m. ET, he will meet with Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He will meet with Sec. of Defense Robert Gates at 4:30 p.m. ET. At 7:30 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will host an event celebrating country music.

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On Friday, the New York Times dropped a bombshell on the labor movement with a report that Senate negotiators had scotched a provision commonly known as 'card check'--which would permit workers to form a union when a majority of a business' employees sign an authorization form--from the Employee Free Choice Act.

Some labor officials played it cool when the news broke, but SEIU president Andy Stern insisted that he expected Congress to vote on the provision one way or another. Now, Stern's turning to his online supporters to make sure that happens.

"The New York Times reported on Friday that the Senate is considering dropping majority signup from the Employee Free Choice Act," Stern writes to a 100,000 person mailing list.

By giving employees the free choice to join unions - and not their bosses - majority signup allows workers to have a voice on the job.

Congress needs to hear about your support for majority signup. Sign my petition to Congress in support of majority signup and the Employee Free Choice Act.


You can read the entire letter below the fold. Stern wants Congress to consider majority sign up, but that could simply mean a vote on an amendment--card check as a stand-alone provision--as opposed to a vote on a bill with the provision already written into it. Union-sympathetic senators have apparently concluded that EFCA will fail if it includes card check, but a vote on the provision alone would at the very least put senators--particularly conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans--on the record.

Meanwhile, at the insistence of Blue Dogs, who'd rather not be forced to take a public stand, the House earlier this year reportedly decided not to consider EFCA until the Senate finishes work on the bill. There's certainly a significant number of House progressives who support the provision. But those progressives will have to speak up very loudly. If the Senate officially rejects the provision before the House takes up the legislation, it will be an extremely tough sell not to go the path of least resistance.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India on Friday, July 17. From left to right: U.S. Ambassador-Designate Timothy J. Roemer, Secretary of State Clinton, Chief of Protocol Officer Sumit Mallik, Deputy Chief of Protocol Officer S.V. Bijoor.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton signs a book commemorating the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton meets with India's business leaders. From left to right: Ratan Tata, Charmain of the Tata Group; Secretary Clinton; Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries.

U.S. State Department




Children present a decorated shawl to Secretary Clinton.

U.S. State Department




Members of the Self Employed Women's Association sing "We Shall Overcome" in Gujarati.

U.S. State Department




Father Fraser Mascarenhas, the principal of St. Xavier's College Mumbai, greets Secretary Clinton and Bollywood star Aamir Khan. From left to right: Aamir Khan, Vice-Principal Vivien Amonkar, Secretary Clinton, Father Mascarenhas.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Bollywood star Aamir Khan enter the auditorium at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Self Employed Women's Association Executive Director Reema Nanavaty listen as women artisans share stories of their involvement with SEWA programs.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Minister for Forests and Environment Jairam Ramesh

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton with Sharad Pawar, the Minister of Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (right); and Dr. Mangala Rai, the President of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (left)

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton shops at Dilli Haat, New Delhi.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Deepak Pental, vice chancellor of the University of Delhi, address an audience of 700 students, faculty and guests.

U.S. State Department




Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Secretary Clinton

U.S. State Department




Secretary Clinton and Bollywood star Aamir Khan speak to students in Mumbai.

Newscom




Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Secretary Clinton

Newscom




Secretary Clinton shakes hands with Indian Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi during their meeting in New Delhi. Gandhi is the widow of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991.

Newscom


Walter Cronkite, the voice of the CBS Evening News for 19 years, passed away on July 17, 2009. Cronkite got his start in television presenting CBS's "You Are There" in 1953.

Newscom / WENN.com




Cronkite holds a model of Sputnik.

Newscom / WENN.com




Although he memorably wiped away a tear while announcing John F. Kennedy's death and appeared giddy while covering Apollo 11's successful moon mission, Cronkite, seen here in 1967, rarely lost his composure or faltered in his authoritative delivery.

Newscom / WENN.com




Cronkite relaxes in his study.

Newscom / WENN.com




Cronkite tries out the reduced gravity simulator at NASA's Langley Research Center in August 1968.

Newscom / NASA / CNP




Cronkite (pictured holding the microphone) interviews the commanding officer of a Marine battalion in Vietnam on February 20, 1968.

National Archives




NASA officials and engineers celebrate the Apollo 11 landing on July 20, 1969 as the CBS telecast featuring Walter Cronkite is broadcast on television screens in Mission Control.

Newscom/ NASA / CNP




Cronkite (right) speaks with President Reagan in March 1981. Cronkite retired on March 6 of that year and was succeeded by Dan Rather. His farewell statement from that night ended with this remark: "Old anchormen, you see, don't fade away; they just keep coming back for more. And that's the way it is: Friday, March 6, 1981. I'll be away on assignment, and Dan Rather will be sitting in here for the next few years. Good night."

Newscom / UPI




Cronkite gives the keynote address at a Columbia School of Journalism panel discussion on media reform in February 2007.

Newscom / John Smock / SIPA




Cronkite arrives at a Tribeca Film Festival party sponsored by Vanity Fair in 2007.

Newscom

TPMDC's update on the biggest initiatives on Capitol Hill.

  • Health Care: The House Energy and Commerce Committee continues marking up the tri-committee health care bill into this evening. Still no word from the Senate Finance Committee, though we're constantly on the lookout for updates. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee is marshaling its resources toward killing the bill.



  • Nominations: Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to decide whether to report Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor out of committee.

Over the weekend, President Obama finally insisted, in no uncertain terms, that Congress pass a health care reform bill that includes a public option. But if the House and Senate don't each pass legislation before recessing, that might be a harder sell, and these days, the White House seems a bit less confident that they'll meet their deadlines.

But if Democrats are going to get it all done before adjourning early next month, they're going to have to prevail upon conservative members in their own party--many of whom are trying to slow down the entire reform project--that time is of the essence. Just how successful their efforts will be remains to be seen, but for now, they seem to be trying to divide Congress into pro- and anti- reform camps, characterizing Republican calls to delay as political gambits meant to kill the legislation, and asking those on the fence to choose their allegiances. The hope seems to be that, faced with the GOP's naked political considerations, conservative and vulnerable Democrats will resist the urge to aid and abet the White House's enemies on Capitol Hill and in the conservative movement, and support swift action.

To that end, the White House already has its whipping boys. Conservative commentator Bill Kristol, who helped Republicans kill Clinton Care is now advising Republicans to "[r]esist the temptation" for compromise, and "[g]o for the kill."

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The Justice Department has responded to a formal complaint filed by a good-government group over the John Ensign matter by saying in a letter that the complaint should be filed with the FBI, rather than the department's public integrity unit, reports the Las Vegas Sun. And the good government group -- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) -- has itself responded to DOJ's bureaucratic fastidiousness with what we can only describe as a sassy retort that rubs salt in some recent DOJ wounds.

As requested, CREW has forwarded its complaint to the FBI. Executive Director Melanie Sloan writes:

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A Lake Tahoe reunion organized for Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) former staffers was postponed indefinitely a few weeks after he admitted to an affair, says a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The original invitation for the August retreat, to be held at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, reportedly carried the slogan "15 Years of Changing Lives & Building Relationships for a Lifetime." It went out June 5, just a few days before Ensign admitted to an affair with ex-staffer Cynthia Hampton (whose husband, Doug, also worked for Ensign). No word on whether the Hamptons were originally invited.

The cancellation email went out July 7.

We're getting a few more details about that lawsuit filed Friday by Gerald Walpin, alleging that his firing as inspector general for the AmeriCorps program was unlawful.

The Washington Post reports that the suit names as defendants three top officials at the Corporation for national and Community Service (CNCS): Acting CEO Nicola O. Goren, Human Resources Director Raymond Limon and General Counsel Frank Trinity. Documents relating to the firing, which occurred last month, show that Walpin had long had a contentious relationship with CNCS officials, Trinity in particular.

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