TPM News

House Democrats are dramatically divided on how to get health care passed in part because they don't trust the White House or Senate to live up to their promises.

TPMDC has been speaking with House Democratic leadership aides, administration officials and those close to the health care negotiations to get a sense of where the talks are going, if anywhere.

We've sketched out the plans being floated by members, but a big hangup is that more than half of House Democrats don't want to pass the Senate version of the bill with the promise that the bigger differences they've already been hammering out would be fixed with a second bill.

The bottom line is that many members feel betrayed by the White House and Senate and just don't trust that a fix would pass. If their fears pan out, members would be left with a more conservative bill than they passed last fall, and none of the compromises they negotiated with union leaders on how to pay for health care.

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While a number of Democratic senators have announced their opposition to giving Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke a second term, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) released a statement today saying he will in fact vote for Bernanke, but that he expects the chairman to do more to "ensure families can access the credit they need to buy or keep their home, send their children to college or start a small business."

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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is engaged with House progressives, trying to tease out a solution to the health care reform impasse--but he says that at the highest levels of the Senate and the White House, there's still no plan, and he doubts whether President Obama will insert himself forcefully into the process.

Brown, who traveled with Obama today in Ohio, tells me "I've talked to Reid, I've talked to Obama. Unclear yet what the strategy is, but clear interest, strong interest in getting as strong a bill as we can get."

One of the problems with the so-called Plan B approach, wherein the House passes the Senate bill, and then an amendment package is advanced through a filibuster-proof process, is that it's unclear whether the entire fix bill can survive the so-called budget reconciliation process.

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The campaign of an apparent birther running for U.S. House from Massachusetts today apologized for announcing the endorsement of Sen-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) without Brown's permission.

Bill Hudak, an attorney who campaigned for Brown, released a statement today apologizing for issuing a press release, which had fake quotes from Brown, announcing his endorsement.

"Scott and I had several conversations where he pledged to provide support for me after the election. However, as a person new to politics, I took those conversations as permission to move and jumped the gun in the heat of the moment," Hudak said in the statement.

In the days before the 2008 presidential election, Hudak had put up large signs on his property showing Barack Obama as Osama bin Laden, surrounded by the words "lazy," "socialist" and "Marxist."

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The longest serving member of the House of Representatives says Democrats need to act quickly to pass reform, and that the best way forward may be "Plan B": to pass the Senate health care bill along with a separate bill amending it in a variety of ways. But after conversations with his colleagues he thinks members aren't quite ready to settle on any course of action.

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI)--the Dean of the House--thinks Democrats should first put Republicans on the spot opposing the bill, then move ahead without them.

"They can go to conference," Dingell told me in an interview this afternoon. "Bring the Republicans in. They've been whining about the need to have transparency, let them get up there and say that they oppose this bill before the people."

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A group of nearly 200 "extremely concerned citizens" in a small Montana county are demanding that local leaders fill out a "questionnaire" pledging to form a local militia, prohibit mandatory vaccinations, boot the EPA out of town, allow citizens to bear any type of gun, and require federal government employees to get written approval before approaching "any Citizen."

Organized in part by a group called Celebrating Conservatism, which is lead by a woman who quit the state GOP after complaining of "fake" Republicans, the questionnaire was presented this week to the county commissioners and sheriff of Ravalli County, according to the local Republic newspaper.

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Well folks, it's been one year since President Barack Obama took office. And he spent a lot of that year working on health care reform.

But with the future of reform uncertain at best in the wake of the special election in Massachusetts that left Senate Democrats without their filibuster-proof supermajority, we thought it would be a good time to take a look back and relive all the exciting speeches about getting health care reform done. Masochistic? Maybe. Yes.

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President Obama did not stray much from prepared remarks we wrote up earlier during his town hall in Ohio on jobs, but assumed a mocking tone when addressing health care and saying it "has been in the news a little bit this week."

Obama said he knows people are "in a tizzy" because "this process was so long and so drawn out ... this is just what happens in Congress, it's just an ugly process."

He portrayed himself as fighting the ways of Washington, suggesting that special interests and lobbyists had slowed down the bill.

He said people are asking if he is "weakened" on health care and "How's he going to survive this?"

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) announced on Glenn Beck's radio show today that she's organizing a rally at the Capitol for Jan. 27, the same day as the State of the Union address.

She invited "patriots" and members of the public to come and sign a petition, which she called a "declaration of health care independence."

Bachmann is calling this rally a "press conference," apparently to avoid breaking House rules about participating in grassroots lobbying. At her last "house call" tea party in November, Bachmann and the House Republicans who joined her did the same thing.

Bachmann said the declaration says "we reject what they want, this centralized government approach, and what we want is no backroom deals, no political favoritism, no doing a bill behind closed doors. You read the thing before you actually vote on it. Some very simple things: don't add to the crushing debt, don't add to the state crushing debt."


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A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows 61 percent of adults surveyed saying Congress should "drop health care reform and focus on more immediate ways to improve the economy and create jobs."

Rasmussen surveyed 1,000 adults via telephone Wednesday and Thursday. The poll has a +/- 3 percentage point margin of error.

The poll also found 59 percent say given the country's current economic situation, the Obama administration should wait on health care reform until the economy improves, a 10-point increase from March of last year.