TPM News

The University of Wyoming has decided to name a new center for international students after former Vice President Dick Cheney, prompting a backlash from students, teachers, and local residents.

The center is partially funded by $3.2 million the Cheneys gave to the university while he was in office. A dedication ceremony is planned for 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, with Dick Cheney and wife Lynne slated to attend. Protesters are organizing a demonstration in the campus quad during the ceremony (they "don't plan to disrupt the ceremony but will be visible," according to the AP).

Laramie, Wyoming resident Nancy Sindelar, who is with the group Veterans for Peace, said that "Mr. Cheney is not the best example of demonstrating how nations should get along with each other...putting his name on an international center is counterintuitive." That statement is a touch milder than what she told The Wyoming Underground: "I feel sorry for the University of Wyoming and the state of Wyoming when they have to change the name after he's indicted."

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Senate Finance Committee chariman Max Baucus (D-MT) told reporters today that he's moving forward on his health care proposal with or without Republicans. He said that the trigger concept hasn't really been discussed in his panel's negotiation, and that he's increasingly of the belief that a public option can not pass the Senate.

"I will move forward anyway," Baucus said. "We have to move forward. I told Chuck Grassley that."

Grassley is the Finance Committee's ranking member, and the Republican leader on health care negotiations in the committee's so-called "Gang of Six"

Baucus said the proposal he unveils next week will be similar to the draft he released yesterday, which mandates subsidized coverage and expands Medicaid, but only provides for the creation of private co-ops--not for a public option.

"It is similar to the proposal I issued on Sunday night. I think that is close to a measure that will pass both the committee and Senate," Baucus said.

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The new AP/GfK poll today, coming out just as President Obama is about to address Congress on health care, finds that he's coming into the debate in a weak position.

Obama's approval on his handling of health care right now is only 42%, with 52% disapproval on health care.

This other question should concern Democrats: "If President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are unable to win support from Republicans to pass a health care plan this year, what should they do?" The numbers: Go ahead and pass a bill without Republican support, 28%; Keep trying until they are able to make a deal with the Republicans, 66%.

Looking at this number, it's clear that the burden on Obama and the Democrats at this point is to demonstrate clearly through tonight's speech and the following events that Republicans won't make a deal. If that case isn't made, there really might not be enough political capital to withstand the potential fallout from a Dems-only bill.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) plans to unveil a draft of his health care legislation next week, and begin hearings on September 21st. Baucus has reportedly told the panel's Democrats that he will move ahead whether or not Republicans plan to support the meeting.

The move keeps with Baucus' vow to release a completed draft by September 15. More details as they emerge.

Our friends at the Dump Bachmann blog have spotted a fun little quirk in Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) schedule for this Saturday.

In the early part of the morning, Bachmann will be hosting a town hall on health care. Then in the late morning, she will be proceeding directly to speaking at...a Tea Party.

So first it's a Bachmann town hall, and then a Tea Party. Really, how do you tell the difference?

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) today took a shot at the president for pushing a deadline for passing health care reform legislation, saying a deadline is "counterproductive."

"The president's job is to push ... if he doesn't push it tends to drift," Conrad told reporters this morning. "But this idea that there is a drop-dead day or hour is absolutely counterproductive to doing something that is critical."

Conrad, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, has expressed dismay with the idea of a deadline before.

But yesterday it was committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), not the president, who was pushing deadlines. Baucus said yesterday that bipartisan negotiators on the committee had better speak up by 10 a.m. today if they had changes to his proposal.

We've all seen those stories where a careless politician gets a little too candid when speaking into a hot mic. But this one's really in a whole different league.


Michael Duvall is a conservative Republican state representative from Orange County, California. While waiting for the start of a legislative hearing in July, the 54-year-old married father of two and family values champion began describing, for the benefit of a colleague seated next to him, his ongoing affairs with two different women. In very graphic detail.

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Sen. David Vitter appears to be sending out a new fundraising letter containing an all-too familiar claim -- that if the Democrats pass their health-care bill, the old and disabled will have their health care cut off by government bureaucrats deciding they're not worth the cost -- the main substance of the "death panel" scare.

Here's the key quote from the letter, which was given to us by the Louisiana Dems after a supporter handed it to them in the past week:

So what about the claims that this plan will reduce health care costs? Well, to do that will simply require a plan to ration existing resource sand restrict benefits for certain medicines, procedures and therapies.

The government will determine who is eligible for what and if you are older or have certain other afflictions, an economist will determine if you are worthy of the government's "investment" in your longevity. That's right, a bureaucrat will be making life or death decisions.

The Vitter campaign did not return our requests for comment.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) wants there to be no doubt: "[T]his member of congress, this United States senator is going to tell [President Obama] emphatically that we need the public option," Specter said.

As a Republican, and in his first days as a Democrat, Specter opposed the public option, but eventually came to the view that a public option should be included in health care reform, and now says the country 'needs' the public option.

His move to the left no doubt has something to do with the pressure he's facing from Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) who's challenging Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. Sestak has launched a petition calling on Congressional leaders to hold an up or down vote on the public option in both the House and the Senate.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took a shot at the Fox network today while appearing on "Fox And Friends," saying "I know that the network, instead of dealing with the reality of millions of people on health insurance reform, have decided to show a reality show called something like So You Think You Can Dance." Watch the video below.

"I do hope that people will check into the reality of what's going on in America rather than the distraction of a reality TV show," said Gibbs. Steve Doocy noted that Fox News Channel will be broadcasting the speech.

NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC and CNN will all be airing Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress. Fox also aired So You Think You Can Dance instead of a primetime press conference by Obama back in July.