TPM News

The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of Illinois gives Democrats the initial lead in the race for President Obama's former Senate seat, though the undecided figure remains high.

The numbers: Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias 43%, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk 36%, with a ±4% margin of error. A month ago, before the party primaries, Giannoulias led Kirby by 38%-30% in the potential match-up.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who just barely survived his own primary, also leads both Republican candidates who are still in contention for the too-close-to-call GOP primary that was held three weeks ago. Quinn leads state Sen. Bill Brady by 47%-32%, and leads state Sen. Kirk Dillard by 46%-35%.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)--the Republicans point man on health care reform in the Senate--has flirted with the idea that requiring people to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. But he fully joined the "Tenther" fringe at today's health care summit.

"The high cost of this bill comes from a non-constitutional mandate," Grassley said in an exchange with President Obama.

It wasn't too long ago that Grassley not only supported the mandate, but also claimed there was bipartisan agreement on the issue.

That time has clearly passed--moments later Grassley got back up from House Minority Leader John Boehner.

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Things are getting bad for New York Gov. David Paterson -- and his state police superintendent -- as more revelations surface in the wake of the big Times story today.

The latest: Paterson's deputy secretary for public safety, Denise O'Donnell, has resigned and is accusing the state police superintendent of lying lied to her about police involvement in the domestic violence case of Paterson aide David Johnson.

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It's one thing for a political party to send out a fund-raising mailer designed to look like an official Census Bureau document, in the apparent hope of bamboozling some confused recipients into opening it. After all, who among us hasn't done that at some point?

But it takes some chutzpah to double down on the tactic, even after the Census Bureau itself, as well as members of Congress from your own party, have complained about it -- and to do it in the same year that the actual Census is being conducted.

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Sen. Dick Durbin admitted today many of the speeches from his colleagues at the health care summit were old hat, and said that regardless of the outcome the Democratic leadership will forge ahead with passing legislation.

Durbin (D-IL) told reporters outside the White House that there were no surprises at the summit because "Working with these people for a long time, I could give some of their speeches and they could give mine."

Tomorrow, leaders will get together and plot a way forward but he wouldn't say if reconciliation would be the process used to pass the legislation.

"If nothing comes of this we're going to press forward. We just can't quit. This is a once in a political lifetime opportunity to deal with a health care system that is really unsustainable," Durbin said. "We will sit down in leadership and if we have some helpful Republicans, this could be an easy assignment. But if not, it could be a little harder."

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Gov. Charlie Crist's (R-FL) Senate campaign is firing back at the latest round of rumors that he might be about to leave the Republican Party and run for Senate as an independent.

"This is patently false," said Crist communications director Andrea Saul, in an interview with TPMDC. I then asked Saul whether she thought the latest incarnation of this rumor might be an attempt by the campaign of Crist's opponent in the Republican primary, Marco Rubio, or by Rubio's supporters attempting to retaliate for the new reports about Rubio's use of the state party's credit card.

"Marco Rubio continuously does whatever he can to distract voters from the reality of his record," Saul responded. "There's a clear pattern that Speaker Rubio on the campaign trail says things that do not match the reality of his record, and this is yet another example of him trying to distract people from that."

Surprise! Health care bipartisan ain't going to happen. House Minority Leader John Boehner is a key participant in today's bipartisan health care summit, where a degree of decorum is required. But that isn't stopping him from ripping health care reform in other ways.

"No GOP Reforms Included in Democrats' Job-Killing Health Care Proposals" reads the headline of a GOP Leader Alert issued moments ago, as members of his own caucus sparred with President Obama over whether and how to allow health insurance to be sold across state lines.

"Despite the President's rhetoric, Democrats' job-killing health care proposals do not implement a single major GOP reform that would lower costs for families and small businesses," Boehner's statement reads.

Yes, Washington Democrats have recently begun incorporating into their rhetoric a few of the same words Republicans have long used. But when you dig beneath the newly-minted rhetoric and actually look at the text of their bills, it quickly becomes evident that they haven't actually incorporated any of the major health care reforms Republicans support.

Of course, even if these GOP reforms were incorporated, they would still be attached to legislation that includes job-killing tax hikes, deep cuts to Medicare, massive unfunded mandates on states, unconstitutional mandates on individuals, an "abortion premium" levied on American taxpayers, vast new powers for the federal bureaucracy, and other unacceptable provisions the American people reject.

I'm gonna go way out on a limb and guess that he won't change his mind in the next hour and a half. You can read the entire statement here.

This, via Daily Kos: Newt Gingrich was on Sean Hannity last night to talk about Senate Democrats considering passing health care reform via filibuster-proof reconciliation. If they used reconciliation, a budget process that would require only 51 votes instead of 60, Gingrich said it would be akin to the rule of Venezuela's socialist president, Hugo Chavez.

"I think that what you're seeing is a Chicago machine politics approach that basically says, if we can run over you and mug you, then we're going to get away with it," Gingrich said. "And I think what they don't understand is that this is not Chicago. That the United States is not going to tolerate a group of people trying apply kind of a Hugo Chavez majoritarian rule in the Senate. I don't it'll happen."

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If you're wondering why, beyond the politics, there's very little common ground between Democrats and Republicans on health care policy, here's one reason. Earlier today, at the health care summit, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) complained that one of his problems with the Senate health care bill is that the government imposes standards on insurers.

"It is a richer benefit. How did it get that way? Because the federal government would mandate it under your legislation in the insurance exchanges," Kyl said.

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