Obama: "Outlandish Claims" About Health Care Bill Are "Simply Not True"
In this week's YouTube address, President Obama rebutted what he called "outlandish claims" that have been made against his health care plan:
"So, let me explain what reform will mean for you," said Obama. "And let me start by dispelling the outlandish claims that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid, or bring about a government takeover of health care. That's simply not true. This isn't about putting government in charge of your health insurance; it's about putting you in charge of your health insurance.
Virginia Gubernatorial Race Takes Center Stage In GOP Address
This weekend's Republican address was delivered by Bob McDonnell, the GOP nominee for Governor of Virginia. He delivered a standard conservative message, with a focus on how these issues affect his own state as well as the country at large:
"As I travel throughout Virginia, I listen to our people who are concerned about the jobs they have, worried about finding the jobs they need, and concerned about what jobs will be available for their kids in the years ahead," McDonnell said, later adding: "As Republicans, we believe you create jobs by keeping taxes and regulation low, and litigation at a minimum."
Greg Sargent reports that, in a meeting with key liberal interest groups, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel went on quite the tirade, letting it be known just how he feels about progressive groups targeting House Blue Dogs and conservative Senate Democrats.
Among other things, he called them "fucking stupid."
In the past, White House objections to infighting have been effective. And though a number of groups have insisted that they're not changing their game plans, it'll be interesting to see if the tone or intensity of these campaigns changes.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus might have gotten an earful from President Obama yesterday at a White House health care meeting. Why? Because now he's publicly acknowledging that bipartisan negotiations could collapse forcing Democrats to advance a bill on a party-line basis.
"If Republicans aren't there, it could get to the point where sometime after the recess... Democrats may have to go in a different direction," Baucus said. "I hope not, but we have to face facts."
Baucus has been one of the chief boosters of the idea of passing a consensus bill. That commitment has vexed liberals, but that's part of what makes his statement today significant.
As we told you earlier, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) was viciously booed at a town hall Thursday for telling the audience to turn off Glenn Beck.
Now, Inglis is pretty right-wing, and opposes the president's health care reform plans. But, as he told local blogger Jason Spencer after the town hall, he finds Beck -- a pretty strong voice for conservatives these days -- a fear-monger.
I don't listen often to Glenn Beck, but when I have, I've come away just so disappointed with the negativity... the 'We've just gone to pot as a country,' and 'All is lost' and 'There is no hope.' It's not consistent with the America that I know. The America I know was founded by people who took tiny boats across a big ocean, and pushed west in tiny wagons, and landed on the moon.
The America that Glenn Beck seems to see is a place where we all should be fearful, thinking that our best days are behind us. It sure does sell soap, but it sure does a disservice to America.
Will Inglis repent to Beck, the way Michael Steele, Eric Cantor and other Republican luminaries repented to Rush Limbaugh a few months ago?
Maybe PhRMA CEO Billy Tauzin should've thought more thoroughly through his scheme to blab to the New York Times about a deal he seemingly struck with President Obama.
As Tauzin tells it, the White House assured him that the pharmaceutical industry would only be on the hook for $80 billion worth of the $1 trillion cost of health care reform--effectively tying Congress' hands if legislators want drug manufacturers to pitch in for more.
But now, White House officials are telling members of Congress that there is no deal. Does this mean PhRMA will drop out of an industry coalition in support of health care reform? Stay tuned.
So what exactly happened at the Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) town hall event last night, in the St. Louis suburb of Mehlville, where six people were arrested outside after a confrontation between a Tea Party activist and some labor union guys? The picture is still murky. Here's a video that has circulated, appearing to show the Tea Party activist on the losing end of a fight, as well someone with SEIU who is on the ground:
The problem, however, is that a recording of a fight or an eyewitness account usually begins after the first punches get thrown, and people just begin to notice that something is going on. As such, we remain in the dark on what exactly happened.
Three people were arrested on suspicion of assault, two for interfering with the police and one for a peace disturbance -- including a reporter who the police believed was getting in the way of their effort to restore order.
For his part, the conservative activist who came out badly in this brawl -- indeed, he was treated at a hospital -- has identified himself as Kenneth Gladney, who claims he was attacked for being a black conservative while he was peacefully handing out signs that said "Don't Tread On Me." The local Tea Party organization has now announced that they'll be holding a new protest tomorrow -- right outside the local SEIU office.
In a new posting on her Facebook account, former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) made a dire statement about health care reform -- that it could result in an Obama-created "death panel" killing her infant son with Down Syndrome:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
And she pointed Americans' attention to a recent speech by none other than Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), warning of the dastardly involvement of Rahm Emanuel's brother, who is a doctor, in the health care debate:
Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president's health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.
Could this be an early trial balloon for a Palin/Bachmann ticket in 2012?
A Senate source tells me that Linda Douglass, Communications Director for the White House's Office of Health Reform is encouraging members of Congress to carry out their town halls, despite the risk that those events will be disrupted by anti-health care reform protesters.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Though the weeks events have forced Democrats to rewrite the script for August recess, the administration's involvement suggests that they're not so concerned about the threat--both physical and political--to urge members to cut back on their public appearances.
Late update: In a statement, Douglass says her message to members was motivational. "[W]e hope supporters of health reform will be out in force in August doing everything from town halls to tele-town halls to visiting hospitals--speaking to people in their home states about how they are being affected by rising health care costs and unfair insurance regulations."
A Senate ethics panel today told Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) it found "no substantial credible evidence" they broke Senate rules with their Countrywide mortgages.
In letters to each senator, the Select Committee on Ethics said the two should have been more "vigilant" to avoid the appearance of receiving preferential treatment and rates.
After reviewing 18,000 pages of documents, the committee found that Countrywide's VIP program for friends of ex-CEO Angelo Mozilo offered expedited service and some discounts. But, since the discounted rates still weren't the best at Countrywide or in the industry, the program doesn't violate Senate rules, the committee found.
SEIU says it has now received an apparent threat involving gun violence from a right-winger in reaction to the union bringing their own people to town halls, Greg Sargent reports.
A woman identifying herself as Diana from Oregon left a voicemail with the union, denouncing their "thuggish" tactics, and then ending on a doozy of a punch-line:
"I suggest you tell your people to calm down, act like American citizens, and stop trying to repress people's First Amendment rights," said Diana. "That, or y'all are gonna come up against the Second Amendment. Stop the violence."