TPM News

Appearing on Morning Joe today, Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) stood by his support for the stimulus bill, even as he struggles in the Republican primary for Senate largely as a result of that very position.

"Do you regret hugging the president?" Scarborough asked, pointing to the image of a pro-stimulus rally a year ago, which has been used frequently by Crist's opponent in the Republican primary, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

"Not in the least," Crist replied -- a bit of a change from several months ago, when he downplayed his support for the bill.

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Health Care for America Now, a coalition of pro-reform groups, released a statement today praising President Obama's health care proposal:

We welcome President Obama's commitment to completing the task of freeing the American people from the tyranny of health insurance companies that profit off covering fewer people while charging higher premiums. The President's Proposal will bring us nearer to that goal. Right now, several health care reform supporters are marching 135 miles from Philadelphia to Washington to tell members of Congress in person that they must finish health care reform now and finish it right. On Wednesday, hundreds will join these dedicated advocates in DC to make sure the President's Health Care Summit includes the people's voice and the message that not one more person should have to suffer or die for lack of good, affordable health care.

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Republican leaders didn't waste any time before lambasting the White House's plan to salvage health care reform. House Minority Leader John Boehner ripped the White House for "[crippling] the credibility of this week's summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected."

Not so fast, says the administration. The White House has launched a website laying out a comprehensive list of Republican ideas in its health care proposal.

"Throughout the debate on health insurance reform, Republican concepts and proposals have been included in legislation," the site reads. "In fact, hundreds of Republican amendments were adopted during the committee mark-up process. As a result, both the Senate and the House passed key Republican proposals that are incorporated into the President's Proposal."

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Rep. Steve King said Republicans ought to present more specific entitlement reforms in their budget plans and supports privatizing Social Security as outlined by President George W. Bush in 2005.

At CPAC last week, we tracked down Republicans to get their take on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget "roadmap" plan which cuts Social Security and creates a voucher system for Medicare. His office declined to comment to us earlier this month, but King said in an interview with TPMDC he has some different ideas for entitlement reform.

King (R-IA) said he wants to fully read the Ryan proposal before taking a yes or no, but said he likes the Bush Social Security plan that many other Republicans now shy away from since it was so politically untenable that year and factored into the Democratic takeover in 2006.

"People should be able to control their own retirement destiny," King said.

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After a month-long period of hibernation, health care reform is suddenly awake and in the headlines again, signaling that the Democrats' signature policy initiative is far from dead. So what happened? Was a new breakthrough reached? And is health care reform now on the fast track? The answer to both questions is, basically, No.

There's one main reason for the flurry of activity, and that is Thursday's health care summit. In advance of that event, the White House has unveiled a proposal--a series of tweaks to the Senate health care bill--which it hopes can push health care reform over the finish line. But that package isn't a new way forward. Rather, it's the result of weeks of negotiations between House and Senate leaders and the White House.

"We had a lot of momentum going in to the [health care summit]," says a Senate leadership aide. "Everyone knew this was the only option in front of us but Obama really forced the hands, of everybody, to come together."

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House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement today regarding President Obama's health care proposal. Here's the full text:

"The President has crippled the credibility of this week's summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected.  This new Democrats-only backroom deal doubles down on the same failed approach that will drive up premiums, destroy jobs, raise taxes, and slash Medicare benefits.

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued a statement today regarding Thursday's bipartisan health care summit. Here's the full text:

"Over the course of the last year, the House and Senate thoroughly and publicly debated how best to make health care more affordable and accessible. The resulting bills are comprehensive solutions that would provide greater security in cost, access and quality to all Americans.

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The Torture Memos will forever be known as the work of John Yoo, the former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer who took the lead in preparing them. But the internal Justice Department report on the memos, released Friday, reveals that a less experienced OLC attorney, working under Yoo, played a key role in the process -- in some cases writing initial drafts of the opinions before getting feedback from Yoo and others.

The name of that lawyer is redacted throughout the report. But in what appears to be an oversight in the redaction process, a footnote identifies her as Jennifer Koester. (The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the reason for the redaction, and about the oversight.)

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Here's the good news: reforming the filibuster -- technically speaking -- isn't that hard.

The bad news: It's unlikely Democrats have the political will to do it.

Threatened use of the parliamentary delaying procedure -- which requires 60 votes to overcome -- has become increasingly common since Republicans returned to the minority. And there's been quite a bit of talk of reforming it. Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) for it. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) reportedly is too. Cal Cunningham, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Senate in North Carolina, is making filibuster reform a campaign issue. And a majority of Americans want the filibuster gone.

So what can be done about it?

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