TPM News

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) drew the ire of liberals and health care reform advocates this week by airing his objections to a public option. In an interview with the New Haven Independent, Lieberman said he's working with an informal group of Senate centrists he meets with regularly to move health care reform efforts without a public option.

As frustrating as that is for reform advocates, though, they're generally more concerned with public option foes and skeptics who serve on the committees with jurisdiction over health care legislation. On that score, progressive groups have launched ads against players such as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)--who sits on the Senate Finance Committee--and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)--who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Committee--for trying to block the provision (Hagan seems to have dropped much of her opposition). Lieberman isn't as poised as they are to weaken or kill the public option. At least for now.

As such, for the time being, reform advocates seem to be holding their fire. But that doesn't mean Lieberman won't ultimately become one of their targets.

President Obama will not rule out detaining terror suspects indefinitely, although he says it "gives me huge pause."

Obama, while saying he isn't comfortable using executive orders to detain prisoners, wouldn't rule it out during an interview with The Associated Press.

But he also said there are some detainees who don't fall neatly into existing categories for criminal prosecution in the United States or under international law. He said dealing with them is going to be one of the biggest challenges of his administration.

It looks like a jail sentence might not have been all that Larry Franklin, the former Pentagon official convicted of spying for Israel, had to fear in recent years.

Court documents filed last week suggest a Sopranos-like effort to get rid of Franklin, who had agreed to testify against two former AIPAC activists, CQ's Jeff Stein reports.

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Democratic Congressional candidate Francine Busby (CA-50) and her allies have been embarking on an extensive public relations campaign in the wake of a raid on a campaign house party by the San Diego Sheriff's Department -- due to a noise complaint that is believed to have come from a person who heckled the event -- which ended in multiple people being pepper-sprayed and the full complement of deputies, including a dog unit and helicopter, coming in to arrest one of the hostesses and a guest.

On Monday, three of the women held a press conference, blasting the arresting officer, Deputy Marshall G. Abbott. "He had a raged look in his eyes and his head was bobbing from side to side," said Kimberley Beatty, who said that she had called 911 to report that he "appeared to be out of control."

And last night, the San Diego ACLU put out a press release, which was forwarded to us by Busby herself, lambasting the Sheriff's Department for all manner of improper behavior here, and calling for greater transparency as the process of investigating this whole mess goes forward. The opening paragraph of the press release is essentially a dry narration of the reported events -- ending with an extraordinary closing sentence, emphasis ours:

On Friday, June 26, 2009, according to press reports and witness statements, a San Diego County Sheriff's deputy, responding to a noise complaint, entered the home of Shari Barman who was hosting a political gathering to support Francine Busby, a candidate for Congress. When the homeowner questioned why she had to provide her date of birth, the deputy grabbed her arm, put it behind her back, and brought her to the ground. Feeling intimidated by a group of mostly middle-aged women, he pepper-sprayed a number of guests and arrested Barman.

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Yesterday we wrote about Environmental Protection Agency economist Al Carlin, the author of a report that casts doubt on climate change. Carlin's study wasn't taken as seriously by the agency as he'd been hoping -- perhaps because he's not a scientist, and because his bosses never asked him to produce it.

But his cause has become a favorite of right-wingers, who suddenly believe science to be sacred, and are charging that the Obama administration is "suppressing" a report whose conclusions it dislikes. The anti-regulatory Competitive Enterprise Institute first publicized Carlin's report last week. Since then, Carlin has discussed his "findings" with Glenn Beck on Fox News, and on Monday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) called for a criminal investigation into the issue.

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This morning, Politico published a story detailing an interesting flier apparently being passed around DC health care lobby circles: a dinner invitation from the Washington Post at the house of CEO and Publisher Katherine Weymouth, selling access to its news and editorial staff and top Obama officials for $25,000 to $250,000. A health care lobbyist passed the missive on to Politico staff because he felt "it's a conflict of interest for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its 'health care reporting and editorial staff.'"

Two and a half hours after the story was published, executive editor Marcus Brauchli sent an internal memo entitled "Newsroom Independence," in which he stated that the news department will not be attending the dinner. The sentiment echoes the statement WaPo spokesperson Kris Coratti made to Politico:

The flier circulated this morning came out of a business division for conferences and events, and the newsroom was unaware of such communication. It went out before it was properly vetted, and this draft does not represent what the company's vision for these dinners are, which is meant to be an independent, policy-oriented event for newsmakers.

As written, the newsroom could not participate in an event like this.

Read the full text of Brauchli's memo and the original flier after the jump.

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Fast on the good news from the Congressional Budget Office, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has circulated its finalized language on the two key issues that had slowed progress on its health care reform bill to a crawl: The public option and the employer mandate. You can see the new language of the bill--if that sort of thing appeals to you--here (PDF).

HELP chairman Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and his chief deputy Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) sent a letter to committee colleague touting the provisions and urging them to support the full bill. You can read that letter here.

One reason for the delay has been the objections of Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC). I have a call out to her office to see if she's now on board with the public option.

Late update: Committee leaders seem confident that every Democrat will vote to move the bill forward. That would include Sen. Hagan.

I just got off the phone with Minnesota Republican state Rep. Marty Seifert, who recently stepped down from his position as state House Minority Leader to run for Governor, about a very important topic: What might happen if former Sen. Norm Coleman runs for the GOP nomination, too. And Seifert gave a sneak preview of what lines of attack Coleman will face from his intra-party rivals if he makes the race, as he's reportedly looking at.

Seifert struck a careful balance between praising Coleman, but also making clear that he himself won't step aside. "Well certainly, his name ID and the ability to raise money is gonna be there, but we're Republicans and we believe in the marketplace and choices," said Seifert. "So I'd say the more people in the race the better. I believe in a multiplicity of choices -- it's not the Politburo, it's the Republican Party."

As for what lines of argument Seifert might take with state Republican caucus-goers, to show that he's the better candidate: "I think my appeal is that I'm electable and that -- you know, the bottom line is, I love Norm as a person and as a public servant, but he lost to Al Franken, for goodness' sake."

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After an embarrassing miscue, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee can now say near-universal should be achievable at a relatively low cost. Last month, HELP Democrats asked the Congressional Budget Office to score an incomplete version of its health care reform bill--one that had been voided of its most controversial provisions. The results were embarrassing. They suggested that the bill--which lacked an employer mandate and a public option--would leave many uninsured, at a nonetheless tremendous cost.

Now, the committee has received a new CBO score--this one of the complete bill--and the results are much, much better. At a glance, they imply that the HELP bill will cover most Americans at a cost of just over $600 billion, but as TNR's Jon Cohn explains, the results are actually a bit more complicated than that. His conclusion? As experts expected, a comprehensive reform package will likely cost about a trillion dollars over 10 years. That may sound like an unholy amount of money, but as a percentage of the next 10 years worth of overall health care spending, it's a drop in the bucket.