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Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) pulled in an impressive haul this past quarter, but he's still at least a few million behind his primary opponent, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA).

Specter had $6.7 million on hand at the end of the first quarter, after raising about $1.2 million--just about the same amount Sestak raised this quarter. But remember, that money was collected when Specter was a Republican. Since then he's become a Democrat, and has won the backing of almost the entire Democratic establishment. With that in mind, we eagerly await Specter's forthcoming financial disclosure.

This spring, TPMDC broke the news that Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) was raising money from supporters ahead of an intended Senate candidacy. Now, with the fiscal quarter over, we know how well that effort worked.

"Many have doubted that we would be able to raise sufficient money for our upcoming race against Arlen Specter," Sestak writes in a letter to supporters, "but we raised over $1 million last quarter ... thanks to you ... and now have over $4.2 million cash-on-hand, making us the number one Senate challenger in the nation!"

The letter, though, is also a fundraising appeal. "But we can't stop there; here's why we need to raise additional funds to continue this extraordinary momentum -- Arlen has decided to start running his 'GOP negative style campaign' against us!"

Sestak's referring to a recent dust-up, which touched off last week when Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) launched his first attack against his new rival.

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Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, is at odds with some of his liberal colleagues. Unlike Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Harkin thinks it may be hard to keep the 60 members of the Democratic caucus united against Republican filibusters--and that means the party may pass health care reform through the budget reconciliation process.

"I think Democrats being Democrats -- like Will Rogers once said, 'I'm a member of no organized political party: I'm a Democrat' -- I think that holds true today," Harkin told the Iowa Gazette.

Under those circumstances--and with Republicans largely united against all of President Obama's agenda items--how will Democrats possibly pass a major initiative like health care reform? In a budget reconciliation bill, it seems, which can't be filibustered. Harkin called that a "distinct possibility."

Democrats in both chambers are hoping to pass a health care bill through regular order by the beginning of August, and have it ready for the president to sign by October, ahead of the budget reconciliation bill--but time is running out.

House leaders have proposed financing about half the cost of a health care reform bill with a surtax on wealthy people--and something like that might fly in the lower chamber. But in the Senate? Here's Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, now trying to figure out how to pay for it's own reform legislation.



Translated, once again, from Grassley's famous twitterese, that reads: "Charles Rangel [chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, who first announced the tax proposal] the wealthy one percent make 27 percent of total income and pay 40 percent of collected income tax. You suggest a five percent health care surtax. How much will the beleaguered wealthy have to pay to satisfy you? Let's talk."

Grassley's committee was expected to propose taxing employer-provided health benefits benefits to finance a health care system overhaul, but that idea seems to have been put on ice, leaving the taxation averse panel without a funding mechanism for their incomplete bill. The House's bill will be unveiled today.

Palin Plans To Stay Involved In Politics Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) told the Washington Times that she'll be staying involved in politics: "I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation." She did not rule out a presidential campaign in the future. "I'm not ruling out anything - it is the way I have lived my life from the youngest age," she said. "Let me peek out there and see if there's an open door somewhere. And if there's even a little crack of light, I'll hope to plow through it."

McCain: Palin Will Continue To Be A Major Factor Appearing on Meet The Press, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was asked about Sarah Palin's resignation. "Obviously I was a bit surprised, but I wasn't shocked," said McCain. "I love and respect her and her family, I'm grateful that she agreed to run with me." He added: "I'm confident that she will be a major factor in the national scene and in Alaska as well."

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Obama: Stimulus Designed To Work Over Two Years -- Not Four Months In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama answered stimulus opponents who say that it has not restored the economy -- as well as those who say it didn't go far enough -- by saying that it has saved the economy from greater disaster, and calling for patience:



"But, as I made clear at the time it was passed, the Recovery Act was not designed to work in four months - it was designed to work over two years," said Obama. "We also knew that it would take some time for the money to get out the door, because we are committed to spending it in a way that is effective and transparent. Crucially, this is a plan that will also accelerate greatly throughout the summer and the fall. We must let it work the way it's supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity."

Cantor: "This is now President Obama's Economy" In this weekend's Republican address, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) blasted President Obama and Congressional Democrats for producing a stimulus program that he said has failed to create jobs:



"In fact, they said that unemployment would stay under eight percent. Yet just months later, they are telling us to brace for unemployment to climb over ten percent," said Cantor. "They promised jobs created. Now they scramble to find a way to play games with government numbers by claiming jobs saved. Simply put, this is now President Obama's economy and the American people are beginning to question whether his policies are working."

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Pope Benedict XVI greets President Obama at the Vatican on Friday, July 10.

White House/Pete Souza

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are escorted by Swiss Guards and Vatican ushers.

White House/Pete Souza

President Obama and Pope Benedict XVI enter the Pope's study at the Vatican.

White House/Pete Souza



White House/Pete Souza



White House/Pete Souza

President Obama at the final press conference of the G8 in L'Aquila.

G8/ANSA

Brazilian President Lula da Silva gave President Obama the gift of a Brazilian soccer jersey at the summit.

Newscom/Zuma

President Obama and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Newscom/Sipa

Italian President Napolitano, President Obama, and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi.

G8/ANSA

President Obama at the leaders' final working session.

G8/ANSA

Egyptian President Husni Mubarak and President Obama.

G8/ANSA



G8/ANSA



G8/ANSA

Brazilian President Lula da Silva and President Obama.

Newscom/Zuma

Despite opposing cloture on a previous cap and trade bill, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) says that--whether he supports the underlying bill or not--he won't support a filibuster of climate change legislation this Congress.

"I'm not going to be part of a filibuster on climate change," Brown told me today. Brown voted against ending debate on the Lieberman-Warner bill in 2007, but he says he did that because the bill had no real chance of making it to the floor, and opposing cloture was his way of expressing his objection to aspects of that legislation.

"I was not blocking the bill from having a hearing on the floor, because it wasn't gonna get to that," Brown said. "I wanted to show that I don't support this bill unless you take care of American manufacturing."

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This great catch by Marcy Wheeler might be the most shocking nugget of all from the IGs report on surveillance.

The report goes into some detail about that famous visit made by Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales to then-AG John Ashcroft, when Ashcroft was in the hospital, and essentially incapacitated, after gall bladder surgery. The White House needed the Attorney General's sign-off to continue its warrantless wiretapping program.

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