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This idea sort of came and went a few weeks ago, but some legislators just can't let it go. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)--a potentially key moderate on the Senate Finance Committee--hasn't forsworn signing on to a health reform bill that includes a public option. But she's holding out to see it affixed to a "trigger mechanism," which would, in theory, give insurance companies a years-long window to lower costs on their own and only "trigger" the public option if they failed to do so.

"If you establish a public option at the forefront that goes head-to-head and competes with the private health insurance market ... the public option will have significant price advantages," Snowe said. But this was her argument against making the public option available as soon as the bill becomes law.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the committee's Democratic point man on the public plan, has basically ruled this option out, as has the health reform campaign Health Care for America Now. Their principles call for a public plan available "on day one."



Shari Barman, the homeowner who was arrested at this past weekend's fundraiser for Democratic Congressional candidate Francine Busby (CA-50), put out a statement yesterday evening. She condemns the sheriff's department's raid as having been based on a non-legitimate noise complaint by a politically-motivated neighbor, who had allegedly yelled anti-gay slurs towards the event, and she accuses the arresting deputy of having committed unprovoked brutality.

Key quote:

Contrary to what has been reported, I did not in any manner strike Deputy Abbott. He and I had only been conversing for a minute or two when he grabbed my arm, twisted it behind me and threw me on the floor. His actions were completely unexpected, excessive and I believe, unwarranted. The remaining guests who witnessed what occurred and who were pepper sprayed were stunned and outraged.

Also contrary to what has been reported, this was the first time any deputy had been to my home that evening. I believe the noise complaint to the police may have been politically motivated based on the shouting we heard during Ms. Busby's speech.

In my opinion the charges brought against me are unfounded and were brought only in order to cover up Deputy Abbott's unprofessional behavior. What happened in our home was shocking and I don't believe would have happened had the situation been handled properly.


Full statement after the jump.

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Last fall, James Ross, a New York City resident and a donor to several Democratic organizations, received an unusual letter. "Your name has been put in our database," Ross was told. "We are monitoring all reports of a wide variety of leftist organizations. As your name appears in subsequent reports, it is our intent to publicize your involvement in your local community. Should any of these organizations be found to be engaged in illegal or questionable activity, it is our intent to publicize your involvement with those activities."

The letter was signed by Howard Rich, a publicity-shy New York real-estate investor and the founder of the conservative activist group Americans for Limited Government. Rich and his group were accused by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee of illegally using Federal Election Commission disclosure reports to obtain the names and addresses of political donors in order to discourage them from making contributions -- a violation of election law. In April, three of the FEC's six commissioners voted to open an investigation into the matter. But the commission's three Republicans opposed a probe. The FEC deadlocked 3-3, and no action was taken against Rich.

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Iraqis Gain Control Of Cities As U.S. Troops Pull Back U.S. combat troops have officially pulled out of Iraqi cities and towns, handing control over to the Iraqis. "This day, which we consider a national celebration, is an achievement made by all Iraqis," said Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. At the same time, there was a significant increase in violence over the last few weeks, in the run-up to the pullback, leaving questions as to what the future will hold.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will speak at 2 p.m. ET from the East Room, highlighting innovative nonprofit programs from across the country. At 3:15 p.m. ET, he will meet with Sec. of Energy Steven Chu.

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President Manuel Zelaya attends a press conference June 27, the day before he was seized in his home by the military and flown out of the country. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, wearing his pajamas, Zelaya maintained that he is still president of Honduras.

David /Xinhua / Sipa Press




Roberto Micheletti, who had been the president of Congress, is sworn in by Congress as Zelaya's successor after the June 28 coup.

David De La Paz




Soldiers guard the presidential office in Tegucigalpa after the military ousted President Zelaya.

David De La Paz /Xinhua /Sipa Press




Zelaya supporters block the way for soldiers trying to enter the presidential home June 28.

David /Xinhua/Sipa Press




Protesters rally at the presidential home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, June 28.

David /Xinhua/Sipa Press




A demonstrator passes by graffiti that reads, "Micheletti garbage. Get out of Honduras."

EFE/Roberto Escobar




Supporters of Zelaya hold a rally June 28 to protest the coup and call for the president's release.

David /Xinhua/Sipa Press




Zelaya hugs Venezuela President Hugo Chavez at an emergency meeting of Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas, or ALBA, June 28.

NOTIMEX/FOTO/CC-PRESIDENCIA/COR/POL

TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Climate Change: The House did its part on Friday, passing the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. And they did it in a way that could, in theory, hold a great amount of sway with fence-sitting Democrats in the Senate. (Republicans are a different story--eight GOPers voted for the bill, but the rest sided with House Minority Leader John Boehner who called it a "pile of shit.") But success (and a successful bill) will depend in large part on factors like the Senate schedule, and White House involvement, which remain big unknowns.


  • Health Care: The House of Representatives will begin the mark-up process on a health reform bill, drafted by three different committees of jurisdiction: Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, and Ways and Means. Thus far, the roll out in that chamber has been pretty seamless, especially by comparison to the action in the Senate. But figuring out how to keep things moving smoothly while three committees make changes to it independently turns out to be a bit tricky. We should know more about that process soon.


  • Congress is not in session this week.

If former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) does decide to fight on at the U.S. Supreme Court after his much-expected defeat with the Minnesota Supremes, he'll have at least one public supporter back home in the continuing litigation of this 2008 Senate race: Minnesota GOP Congressman John Kline -- who says that the courts should decide there's no winner at all!

" I encouraged [Norm Coleman] to carry this through the courts until we can get as much confidence here in Minnesota and in the nation that the results are accurate," Kline told Minnesota Public Radio. But he also added something that has been pitched by Coleman and his legal team in the past -- that we can't truly know whether Coleman or Democratic comedian Al Franken was the true winner of a race this close.

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The continuing battle between the Republican establishment and the hardcore conservative activists in the Florida Senate primary could soon be intensifying, the Washington Times reports, with the Club For Growth actively considering the idea of getting into the race in support of conservative insurgent Marco Rubio, against the moderate Gov. Charlie Crist.

"We recently interviewed Marco Rubio and were impressed," said Club president David Keating. "We are very concerned about the two major tax increases Charlie Crist recently signed and believe there's no excuse for his active support of the Obama big-government 'stimulus' spending bill. We are actively considering the race."

The Club had previously been planning on a different major project for the 2010 Senate primary season: former Rep. Pat Toomey's challenge to then-GOP Sen. Arlen Specter in the Republican primary. But now that Specter has become a Democrat in order to avoid that very same primary, Florida might now be the new Pennsylvania.

But if they do get in, they'll have their work cut out for them. A new Mason-Dixon poll has Crist ahead of Rubio by 51%-23%. However, Rubio's biggest problem right now is a lack of name recognition, with 47% of Republican voters not recognizing the former state House Speaker's name -- something that Club money might be able to help correct.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the champion of social conservatism whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal of 2007, has a new fundraising letter that warns of the liberal/socialist threats on a whole range of issues -- though one particular item is mysteriously missing.

The letter warns of the threat posed by Democrats on such issues as abortion, union card-check, the dreaded Fairness Doctrine to eliminate conservative talk-radio, and big liberal spending.

This sentence sums it up: "The left-wing blob of trial lawyers, union bosses, environmental zealots, abortion activists, socialists and gun grabbers along with the Washington Democrat establishment have already trained their sights on me."

But there is one issue that we're used to seeing from conservatives like Vitter, which doesn't show up at all: Protecting the sanctity of marriage.

An interesting bit of data from Mark Blumenthal over at National Journal puts a cherry on top of a familiar theme: Conservatives who insist that people want government out of health care are either dishonest or in denial.

Numerous recent polls have indicated this with respect to a government run public option. Voters broadly support the idea. And Medicare enrollees have long reported high levels of satisfaction with their access to and quality of care. But here are some hard numbers.

Only 40 percent of consumers report a high level of satisfaction with their insurance. Compare that to 51 percent of Medicaid enrollees, 60 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees, and 56 percent of Medicare fee-for-service recipients. That's a particularly interesting finding vis-à-vis Medicaid, which is often stigmatized as a low-quality program for the poor. Yet Medicaid recipients are, on average, happier with their care than are consumers with private insurance.

That's an interesting factoid for those who are concerned that Congress will enact a weak--and, ultimately, stigmatized--public option. Leaving aside for a moment the moral failure of leaving about 50-million people without health care, the vast majority of people (and, notably, voters) in this country already have health care, and like it at least OK. For them, a public option along the lines of Medicaid might not sound like an appealing alternative--and that's why Democrats are insistent that health reform legislation not force anybody currently enrolled on the private market to give up their plan. But for those who are uninsured, or those who are unhappy with the care they already have, even the weak version of the public option might well still be a step up from the status quo.

TPMLivewire