TPM News

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was one of the Senators who switched from voting against cloture on the jobs bill on Monday, to voting in favor of its passage today. So what was the reason for this difference?

TPM asked Alexander's office for an explanation of why he voted block the bill on Monday, compared to his vote for it today. Alexander's press secretary Jim Jeffries told us: "The senator also said of his Monday vote, 'Majority Leader Reid wouldn't allow Republicans to offer amendments.' His vote on Monday was against ending debate on the bill."

Read More →

Sparks were flying at hearings today probing an expected 39 percent rate hike for Anthem Blue Cross customers in California as Democrats pilloried the insurer as greedy and Republicans used the event another platform to oppose health care reform.

Anthem parent company WellPoint's CEO Angela Braly was the main focus of Democratic ire and members of the Oversight subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee asked her to explain why such a profitable company was increasing rates so drastically.

"It's a difficult situation," she said, detailing the costs of care on the rise in California and across the country.

Read More →

Republicans asked to negotiate health care with President Obama in front of C-Span cameras, but now slam the bipartisan health care summit at the White House slated for Thursday as nothing more than a "photo-op," "infomercial" and "a taxpayer-funded media event."

The GOP has telegraphed its strategy in recent days, saying Obama is making a mistake by attempting to forge ahead with his own compromise version of the Senate bill as Democrats say they see the finish line ahead. The Republicans also are approaching it like a debate, setting up a war room and rapid response center within the Republican National Committee.

The Democrats are eager to wrap up health care and are closely coordinating with the White House on the summit agenda. A Senate leadership aide told TPMDC the Democrats' strategy is to "leave much of the heavy lifting to the president" because he has proven to be "very skilled" in similar situations.

"[W]e're confident that we have a strong hand to play and we're going to strike a tone of compromise and willingness to sit down and listen and negotiate while pressing forward to get health care done as quickly as possible," the aide said.

Read More →

In advance of tomorrow's bipartisan health care reform summit at the White House, a new poll shows Democrats have the upper hand when it comes to what Americans want fixed in their health care system. But they remain unhappy with both bills passed in the Democratic-led Congress.

A CNN national poll out today confirms what health care reform advocates have been saying -- Americans want health care reform, and they favor (if only slightly) most of the reforms Democrats are pushing. But the poll also confirms what Republicans and reform opponents have been saying for months: Democrats are walking into the summit with a set of bills basically no one wants.

Read More →

A must-watch performance on the House floor today from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

"You gotta love these Republicans," Weiner said. "I mean, you guys have chutzpah. The Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of insurance companies."

One of Weiner's Republican colleagues asked that the Democrat's words be stricken from the record because they were inappropriate for debate. Weiner's comeback: I'd be glad to -- I'll just substitute other words.

Make no mistake about it, every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.

Read More →

Amid all the talk of what might result from tomorrow's health care summit, here's a rundown of what will actually happen tomorrow.

The summit is being held at the Blair House, an official guest house of the president, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There are lots of places to watch the summit: It will be streamed live on whitehouse.gov and broadcast on C-Span 3. The RNC and DNC are both planning to run their own live streams, as are the major cable networks. And TPM will have a live wire on the front page, as well as posts from TPMDC throughout the day.

The White House released a sketch of the schedule to the Huffington Post yesterday. President Obama will make open remarks, and so will the Democrats and the Republicans. The discussion will then focus on four issues: controlling costs, insurance reforms, reducing the deficit and expanding coverage.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) has signed Sen. Michael Bennet's (D-CO) letter calling on the leadership to pass a health care public option via reconciliation. Levin is the 24th senator (and sixth committee chairman) to sign the letter, which was originally signed by Bennet, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

At tomorrow's White House health care summit, lawmakers from both parties will sit down for six hours and, ostensibly, try to come up with a bipartisan compromise. But for the Republicans, only one compromise is acceptable: Scrap the bills we have and start over.

Minority leaders in the House and the Senate have both called for a total do-over, and other members of the Republican contingent are echoing the line.

"I and my Republican colleagues have called for the White House discussion on Feb. 25 to begin with a clean sheet of paper, rather than starting with the massive (and massively unpopular) bills passed by Congress," House Minority Leader John Boehner wrote in an op-ed yesterday in the Hamilton Journal News. "Republicans welcome discussion, a chance to start over and an opportunity to offer our ideas."

Read More →

Michael Steele paid over $122,000 from his personal political account to a Washington law firm. The Steele camp suggests there's an innocent explanation -- but the Baltimore Sun is raising questions.

The paper reported over the weekend that Steele's Maryland state campaign committee -- which dates from his 2002 run for lieutenant governor -- paid $122,195.01 during the second half of 2009 to Bryan Cave LLP, a top Beltway law and lobbying firm. That report was based on state election filings.

Read More →

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has put out a press release welcoming the passage of an extension of highway funding -- which was included in the jobs bill he'd voted to block two days ago, and then voted in favor of on final passage today.

"I am extremely pleased that after months of unnecessary delay, the United States Senate finally passed legislation that includes an extension of the Federal Highway Program," Inhofe said in the release. "Oklahoma and states across the nation have been forced to pay a steep price, in many cases with significant jobs losses and cancelled highway projects, because of the failure of Democrats and Republicans in Washington to come together sooner to get the job done."

On his Senate Web site, Inhofe also includes a YouTube video of part of his floor speech in favor of the jobs bill's final passage. Inhofe holds up his solid conservative credentials, while also discussing the importance of national infrastructure. He can also be seen criticizing a fellow Senator, Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, for voting against this bill but having been in favor of the $700 billion TARP bailout. No mention is made in the press release or this video of the fact that two days ago, Inhofe voted to block this very bill.

Read More →

LiveWire