TPM News

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and RNC Chairman Michael Steele appeared back-to-back on MSNBC today to talk about the health care summit. When asked, neither of them could specify any concessions their side might make today.

Sebelius, when asked if the president would "try to grease the wheels for some kind of bipartisan deal," listed things that are already in the proposal: crackdowns on fraud, prevention measures, high risk pools and new rules for insurers.

"Those are already in the measures and were proposed by Republicans in the House and the Senate. So he has actually put a lot on the table. He wants to know what else they want to talk about," Sebelius said.

Neither could Steele name anything specific.

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Democrats finally seem ready to act on health care reform, and for perhaps the first time in the entire year-long health care reform debate, they're speaking--openly--about the likelihood that they'll invoke the budget reconciliation process to make some tweaks to the Senate's health care bill. But there remains no clear path forward, with the House and Senate still jockeying over who will make the first move, and even Senate Democrats divided on how the process should work in their chamber and who among them gets to decide on it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she won't pass the Senate bill until the reconciliation process is complete. And Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) says the Senate can't do reconciliation until after the House acts on the Senate bill. Has an unstoppable force just met an immovable object?

Not necessarily.

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Jon Stewart has been watching Republicans complain about President Obama's health care reform summit, and thinks "there really is no winning at this carnival game is there?"

"Mr. President," he said, imitating GOPers, "we cannot talk about health care until you grow a mustache! A handlebar mustache! I refuse to talk health care reform with a man in a silly mustache!"

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The White House is about to kick off a bipartisan health care summit that the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats hope will be the closing chapter in their long fight to pass the legislation and prepare for the midterm elections.

The summit starts at 10 a.m. at the Blair House across Lafayette Park from the White House. There are 38 Congressional attendees, administration staffers and Cabinet secretaries.

In trying to be transparent, the White House has detailed the agenda and even the seating arrangement, and will stream the event all day at

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The New York state police intervened with a woman who had accused a top aide to Gov. David Paterson of assaulting her, in what she says was an attempt to harass her to drop the charges, the New York Times reports.

And Paterson himself had a brief phone conversation with the woman earlier this month, though the details of the call are in dispute. Paterson told the Times the woman "initiated" the call, whereas her lawyer says Paterson called her. The lawyer, Lawrence Saftler, says the governor told her, "If you need me, I'm here for you."

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Today: The Health Care Summit Today's big event will be the health care summit between President Obama and members of Congress from both parties. The Associated Press does not have high expectations for success: "Expect them to collide, not come together. Without a no-nonsense referee to slam the gavel on mind-fogging jargon, not to mention apocalyptic rhetoric, some viewers might wish Judge Judy was presiding."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:15 a.m. ET. Obama will walk to the Blair House at 9:50 a.m. ET, and at 10 a.m. ET will host the bipartisan health care summit. At 4 p.m. ET, Obama will walk back to the White House. At 4:30 p.m. ET, Obama will deliver remarks and present the awards for the 2009 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal.

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Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio charged grocery bills, car repairs and a number of other personal expenses to a GOP-issued credit card during his tenure as speaker of the state's House, according to a report in the Miami Herald.

Records obtained by the newspaper show that during his time as speaker, from 2005 to 2008, Rubio charged $13,900 in personal expenses on the American Express the party issued him. That includes $1,000 for repairs to the Rubio family car. Among the other charges, which were covered by the party as "political expenses":

• $765 at Apple's online store for ``computer supplies.''

• $25.76 from Everglades Lumber for ``supplies.''

• $53.49 at Winn-Dixie in Miami for ``food.''

• $68.33 at Happy Wine in Miami for ``beverages'' and ``meal.''

• $78.10 for two purchases at Farm Stores groceries in suburban Miami.

• $412 at All Fusion Electronics, a music equipment store in Miami, for ``supplies.''

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Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman who's considering a challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), spoke tonight before the Stonewall Democrats' New York City chapter, one of the largest gay political organizations in the state. For Ford, who in 2004 voted for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, it was a test of his mettle in the face of those who may be his most fervent opponents.

Ford now says he supports marriage equality and tonight -- despite boos, chants and signs reading "Snake Oil Harry" -- he defended his change of mind.

"I freely admit there are issues I've evolved on," he said.

"The position I hold now is the right one," he said later, and pointed out that over the last 10 years, public support for gay marriage has increased.

"The reason the numbers and the support continues to go up is because of people like me, who change their minds," he said.

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Attorney General Eric Holder has "the utmost confidence" in the Justice Department's ethics office, despite the fact that it was recently overruled by a top Holder aide in its most high-profile case in years, a DOJ spokeswoman tells TPMmuckraker.

The 290-page torture memo report produced by the Office of Professional Responsibility, which is tasked with investigating misconduct by DOJ attorneys, found that Bush-era attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee had committed professional misconduct in writing the legal opinions that authorized torture.

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