TPM News

Vice President Joe Biden says he's confident Sen. Joe Lieberman will come around, but says everyone is engaging in "gamesmanship" to get the maximum leverage from the bill.

Today Biden appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," defending his old Senate colleague as "a great guy."

But Biden said "honest to god" he doesn't know what is up with Lieberman (I-CT), whose opposition to elements of the health care bill has put Democrats in a major jam. But he added he learned from his own senate service, "never question another man's motive, question his judgment."

"I think Joe's judgment is wrong on this," Biden said.

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The Obama administration and two good government groups yesterday announced, with some fanfare, that they'd come to an agreement on those missing emails from the Bush White House.

But if you think the news means we're finally about to get the full story on the Valerie Plame leak, or the deliberations that took us to war in Iraq, think again. Many of the roughly 22 million emails secured through the deal likely won't be made public until 2022. And even the ones that can be released sooner won't see the light of day for around three years.

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Late last night news broke that the Obama administration plans to transfer detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to a correctional center in Illinois.

An administration official told TPMDC last night:

On Tuesday, the administration will announce that the president has directed that the federal government proceed with the acquisition of the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois to house federal inmates and a limited number of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Closing the detention center at Guantanamo is essential to protecting our national security and helping our troops by removing a deadly recruiting tool from the hands of al Qaeda. Tuesday's announcement is an important step forward as we work to achieve our national security objectives.


Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Dick Durbin will get a White House briefing Tuesday afternoon on the decision. They are among the supporters who say using Thomson would create new jobs.

Like everything, there are political consequences here as Senate candidate Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has been the most vocal opponent to the idea. Other Republicans are balking as well.

But as we reported a few weeks ago, an unlikely coalition of conservatives are backing the plan.

The White House has released a "progress report" on clean energy efforts as detailed in a memo from Vice President Joe Biden to President Obama on the eve of Obama's trip to Copenhagen.

"I'm pleased to report that the administration is laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that will create a new generation of jobs, reduce dependence on oil and enhance national security," Biden writes.

Read the memo, titled Progress Report: The Transformation to A Clean Energy Economy here.

White House climate czar Carol Browner said the administration has shown a commitment to clean energy in a way that has sparked investment from the private sector.

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December 13, 2009: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel lights the National Menorah in front of the White House. The ceremony marks the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, which commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 B.C. after its destruction by the Syrian-Greeks.

Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com




Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy.

Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com




A man dressed as a dreidel, a traditional Hanukkah toy, entertains the crowd.

Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com




Batsheva Shemtov and Rabbi Avraham Shemtov.

Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com




Rabbi Levi Shemtov speaks to the crowd, flanked by costumed soldiers.

Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com




The Three Cantors sing, accompanied by the US Air Force Band.

Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com






Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com




Emanuel addresses the crowd before the ceremony.

Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com




Rahm lights the menorah.

Photo by Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com

Obama administration officials were not pleased when word leaked out earlier today that the White House was leaning on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut a deal with Joe Lieberman on a public option alternative--and they gave their counterparts on the other end of Pennsylvania Ave. an earful about it. But in the end, sources are unanimous: The White House wants Reid to hand Joe Lieberman the farm.

An aide briefed on discussions with the White House says that there would be no story if Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel hadn't interceded. The aide confirmed an account, reported by Huffington Post, that Emanuel visited Reid personally, telling him to cut a deal with Lieberman.

Then the aide provided more detail.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid emerged from tonight's Democratic caucus meeting all smiles as he approached waiting microphones with several caucus leaders in tow. But in a short press conference where he took no questions, Reid and the other Democrats gave little information about what was accomplished in the emergency party meeting.

"This is like a steeplechase race with a couple of hurdles left," Reid said. "Democrats are not going to let the American people down."

Reid said a health care bill will pass the Senate next week, but he didn't say what would be in it. Neither did anyone else who spoke.

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Joe Lieberman is the man of the hour. But though he's threatening to filibuster the Democrats' health care bill, he did not speak at an impromptu caucus meeting on the legislation this evening. Perhaps that's because he appears to have won this round: The Medicare buy-in--the key feature of a public option compromise reached tentatively last week--is now being discussed in the past tense by some of its most ardent proponents.

One member who did speak, according to a source briefed on the meeting, was Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who offered an impassioned plea. "Don't let these obstructionists win," Specter reportedly said. "I came to this caucus to be your 60th vote." His words were met with a loud applause, which was audible through the doors of the LBJ room, and down the hall toward the Senate chamber.

But that applause may belie the reality--that the chief items on the Democrats' wish list appear to be dead or dying. The public option is gone from the Senate bill. The Medicare buy-in, which was supposed to take its place, is on life support at best.

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Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) just walked walked into the Democrats all-important caucus meeting tonight sounding defeatest about the chance that a Medicare buy-in or public option trigger will survive Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) decision to block the compromises this weekend.

Asked by a reporter if the Medicare buy-in will be pulled out, Harkin said "looks that way," before praising a Democratic health care bill without the two public option compromises.

"There's enough good in this bill that even without those two, we gotta move," he said. "All the insurance reforms, all the stuff we wrote so hard for prevention and wellness in there, the workforce development issues that we have in there, the reimbursement based on quality not on quantity -- there's good stuff in this bill. It's a giant step forward, changing the paradigm of health care in America."

With that, Harkin turned and walked into the caucus meeting. Shortly after him came Lieberman, dashing into the room and taking no questions from the reporters swarmed around him.

While en route to a meeting of the Democratic caucus this evening, where members will discuss his threat to filibuster health care reform, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) addressed charges of hypocrisy over an alternative to the public option. Sort of.

"I didn't change my mind," Lieberman insisted. "I've been in this position for the last few weeks."

"We've got this very strong network and system of subsidies for people, including people who are 55-65 so the idea of the Medicare buy in no longer was necessary because they're taken care of very well under the Finance Committee proposal," Lieberman said.

For years, Lieberman had supported the idea of a Medicare buy-in as a promising vehicle for reform, including, as TPMDC first noted this morning, as recently as three months ago. Asked specifically about his position this past September, Lieberman now says that the Senate Finance Committee bill, finalized in October, dealt with the problem of the uninsured so well that the buy-in became redundant.

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