TPM News

It's a big day for health care and the reactions will be flooding the zone today.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed his health care bill last night, with a $849 billion price tag. He's holding a big event at 12:15 at the Capitol Visitors Center (and the White House is reacting via a noon conference call).

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding her weekly press conference at 11 on Capitol Hill, Minority Leader John Boehner will talk about health care at 11:45.

Republican Sens. Judd Gregg and Lamar Alexander are briefing reporters this afternoon.

Volunteers from Organizing for America and pro-reform groups plan to attend Reid's event and show their health care spirit.

Sen. Chuck Schumer was on MSNBC this morning and predicted the bill will get the needed votes to pass.

He added, "When we get this done, poll numbers will go up."

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The National Right to Life Committee blasts the Senate health care bill for allowing people who receive federal premium assistance to purchase insurance that covers abortion.

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) has rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment and has substituted completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs," reads a statement from NRLC director Douglas Johnson. "Reid seeks to cover elective abortions in two big new federal health programs, but tries to conceal that unpopular reality with layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping requirements."

The key: "the bill creates new tax-supported subsidies to purchase private health plans that will cover abortion on demand."

The Stupak amendment to the House bill would prevent anybody who receives such subsidies from buying insurance that covers abortion, except in rare instances.

You can read the entire statement below the fold.

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The CBO has posted its first analysis of the Senate's health care bill, which you can access here.

As advertised, the bill reduces the deficit considerably in both the near- and long-term, while expanding coverage to 94 percent of Americans. By 2019, 25 million people would be buying insurance through a health insurance exchange.

However, it's not all roses. For instance, based on an assessment of the political popularity of the public option, the CBO has concluded that enough states will "opt out" to prevent a full third of consumers from purchasing government insurance.

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President Obama issued the statement regarding the Senate health care reform bill this evening. Here's the full text:

Today we passed another critical milestone in the health reform effort with the release of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I was particularly pleased to see that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill will reduce the deficit by $127 billion over the next ten years and as much as $650 billion in the decade following, saving hundreds of billions while extending coverage to 31 million more Americans.

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Gov. Bobby Jindal will give $10,000 in contributions that he received from accused fraud attorney Scott Rothstein (and from his law firm) to a victims' compensation fund once one is created, says Kyle Plotkin, the governor's press secretary.

The move comes just four hours after TPMmuckraker first reported the news of the donations from Rothstein. The money was given at a pre-game reception held in Jindal's honor before the UF-LSU game in Florida in October 2008. Rothstein was one of nine co-chairs for the event.

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After meeting with the Democratic caucus to unveil the details of his merged Senate health care reform bill, Senate Majority Harry Reid held a press conference to announce the bill.

The bill "saves lives, saves money and protects Medicare, makes Medicare stronger," Reid said, flanked by several Democratic senators, including Chris Dodd, Debbie Stabenow, Al Franken and Chuck Schumer.

"Ninety-eight percent of the American people, those that have Medicare will be included in that number, will have health insurance," he said,

Earlier today, Reid's office briefed reporters on the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the bill, which will require $849 billion over 10 years in new spending and will reduce the deficit by $127 billion. The CBO had a slightly different percentage of Americans who will be insured, saying the number would come in at 94 percent.

"We're proud of these figures," Reid said.

"Not only do we make [health insurance] affordable for every American, we certainly do it in a fiscally responsible way," he said.

"This is about winning," he added.

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At a special evening meeting of the Democratic caucus tonight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid outlined, in broad strokes, the details of his health care bill, which the CBO has found, in a preliminary analysis, will expand coverage to 94 percent of Americans while reducing the deficit. And earlier in the day, during a separate meeting about floor procedure, Reid let three of his party's key skeptics know that if they join Republicans at any stage of the process to block the bill, he still retains the option of passing major parts of it through the filibuster proof budget reconciliation process.

In response to a question from TPMDC Nelson told reporters that, at a meeting this afternoon with Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Reid "talked about process, procedure, discussion about reconciliation and a whole host of issues of that sort."

"Nobody's really jumping up and down to push for reconciliation," Nelson said, "he's not threatening that, but anybody can conclude that if you don't move something on to the floor, that is one of the possibilities."

Nelson said he has still not committed to vote for even the first procedural vote, but in a sign that he's leaning toward bringing a bill to the floor, he emphasized his view that the floor debate is a chance to improve the legislation. "I wanted to make it clear that that is, unlike some are suggesting, is not the vote...it's a motion to enter into the debate and possible amendments and improvements of the legislation" Nelson said. "The vote is the second cloture vote, and that is the cloture on a motion to cease debate, and I wanted that clear, because I've already begun to see people out there say, 'oh no, no, if you vote [to take it up] you've voted for health care."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has explicitly stated that the Republican party will treat Democrats who vote for any procedural motion as if they've voted for the entire health care bill.

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A memo from new Washington Times Publisher Jonathan Slevin, obtained by TPM and set to run in the paper tomorrow, says "limited resources and fiscal constraints" will likely prompt more changes at the paper, which has been in a period of crisis since three top executives were fired and its head editor resigned last week.

Responding to a discrimination complaint filed by editorial page editor Richard Miniter with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Slevin says that the newspaper "does not discriminate and does not tolerate discrimination. ... I am confident that once the charges raised by Mr. Miniter, are investigated, the company will be fully vindicated."

Of the state of the newspaper, Slevin writes: "I anticipate that the coming weeks and months will bring additional changes to The Washington Times, yet rest assured that no matter what changes occur, we will continue to maintain the same spirited reporting on our news pages and online, and a robust alternative voice on our opinion pages."

When its publisher and two other executives were fired 10 days ago, the Times, which was founded by Unificiation Church leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon and is controlled by his son Preston, said the new management team would be working on a sustainability plan. Payments to employee 401(k) accounts were suspended last week. And sources have told TPM that politics within the Moon family have played a part driving the turmoil at the paper.

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The Hill reports that the Rev. Jesse Jackson criticized Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) for voting against the House health care bill, saying, "You can't vote against health care and call yourself a black man."

Jackson was speaking at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation reception commemorating the 25th anniversary of Jackson's presidential run.

"We even have blacks voting against the health care bill," Jackson said.

All of Alabama's representatives voted against the bill. After the vote, Davis released this statement explaining why he voted no, and saying he would prefer something closer to the Senate Finance Committee version of the bill.

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