TPM News

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has set up a new Web site, Names of the Dead, to memorialize Americans who died because they had no health insurance:

Every year, more than 44,000 Americans die simply because have no health insurance.

I have created this project in their memory. I hope that honoring them will help us end this senseless loss of American lives. If you have lost a loved one, please share the story of that loved one with us. Help us ensure that their legacy is a more just America, where every life that can be saved will be saved.


Grayson announced this new Web site on the House floor:

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The new survey of Maine by Public Policy Polling (D) finds that Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe is overwhelmingly popular with the state's Democrats, in the wake of her vote for the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill -- and not too well liked among Republicans.

A whopping 70% of Maine Democrats approve of Snowe's job performance, with only 17% disapproving. Republicans, by contrast, are tied at 45%-45%. Independents approve of Snowe by 51%-33%, yielding an overall top-line approval of 56%-31%.

"With less than half of Republicans approving of Olympia Snowe now it's going to be interesting to see if she's challenged from the right come 2012," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the polling memo. "Is she going to be pushed into a corner the way Arlen Specter was where her only prospect for political survival is a party switch? It's certainly something political observers across the country will be watching."

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In an interview broadcast on Bloomberg TV this afternoon, Peter Cook asked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi about the public option.

"Do you have a bill right now that would generate the support of 218 members of Congress that includes a robust public option, something tied to Medicare reimbursement?"

Pelosi:

We have had, I've said for months, we will have a public option in our legislation. We have the votes to do that and we always have. The question now is what form will it take.

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At a small archiving business in Maryland today, President Obama announced that small banks will have access to TARP money if they increase lending to small businesses.

"I continue to believe that the success of our small businesses will be a foundation upon which our future prosperity is built," he said. "So we will continue to do whatever we can to help these businesses grow and thrive. "

Obama said he's asking Congress to increase how much money entrepreneurs can borrow through the Small Business Administration.

He also said that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and SBA Administrator Karen Mills will hold a conference "in the coming weeks" with lawmakers, lenders, small business owners and regulators "to determine what additional steps we can take to get credit flowing to small businesses."

Read his full remarks, as prepared for delivery, after the jump.

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So far, the charges that Chris Christie turned the U.S. attorney's office into a "branch office" of his campaign for governor, as Jon Corzine put it yesterday, have centered on the relationship between Christie and Michele Brown, a close friend and top aide to Christie when he was US attorney. Brown reportedly took several actions this year that benefited Christie's GOP bid for governor, and in 2007 got an undisclosed $46,000 loan from him.

But did another of Christie's former top aides also put the prosecutor's office in the service of his one-time boss's political aspirations? Ralph Marra, who until this month was the acting U.S. attorney, has several times appeared to insert himself into the political back-and-forth over the race, appearing to pointedly criticize a request by the Corzine campaign for public information, and even triggering a Justice Department probe into whether he made inappropriately political public comments that may have boosted Christie.

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An FBI agent has been poking around in southern California looking at a lawsuit over land bought by a group including Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Friday. But Calvert says he has not been contacted by the FBI and the dispute that is the subject of the lawsuit has nothing to do with his group.

The Press-Enterprise reported:

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Senate hopeful Linda McMahon (R-CT) has bought airtime for a statewide campaign ad Friday aimed to compete with President Obama's fundraiser for Sen. Chris Dodd.

Dodd (D-CT) and Obama are doing a $1,000 per plate fundraiser as part of the president's political push this week.

McMahon, a billionaire who is the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, will speak to the camera for the 30-second ad. It will run throughout the state and also reach into the New York media market.

Campaign spokesman Ed Patru said:

"Chris Dodd has spent a career chasing special interest cash and looking out for their interests. He was asleep at the switch while the banking system crashed, then he rewarded his special interest friends in the financial industry with taxpayer-funded bonuses. He's created a mess and it's time for him to go. It's important for Connecticut voters to know that just as another 6,600 people in the state have lost their jobs, and the state's unemployment rate hits a 33-year high, Chris Dodd is calling in every last political favor he's built up over 30 years as a career politician, and scrounging for every last special interest dollar in an attempt to save his job. Linda will remind Connecticut's families of that Friday."


McMahon is one in a crowded field of Republicans hoping to unseat Dodd next fall, and we posted last week about the Connecticut Democrats going after her WWE ties.

As we noted this morning, Republican NY-23 candidate Dede Scozzafava held a press conference today at Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman's campaign office -- and as it turns out, this photo opportunity had a horrible unintended consequence.

Scozzafava simply ended up being surrounded by a crowd of Hoffman supporters, holding up their signs in back of her as she tried to speak to the cameras.

As Dave Weigel says: "Little-known fact: There are lots of campaign workers, and signs, in such offices, ready to be deployed."

On Monday, we noted that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has not yet commented on a Louisiana justice of the peace who made national news by refusing to marry an interracial couple. Now, Vitter has actually been asked about the incident and dodged the question. Watch the video below.

Mike Stark asked Vitter about being "the only senior official" from the state not to have commented on the story, to which Vitter responded, "I don't think that's the case." Both Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have called for Hammond justice of the peace Keith Bardwell to be removed. When Stark pressed Vitter for a comment, Vitter smiled, thanked him, and left.

Watch:



(h/t Think Progress)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the power player right now, negotiating a careful merger between two bills with a goal of reaching 60 votes in his chamber. But the two other major players - the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House are left in a bit of a holding pattern.

Top White House staffers are helping with the merger, but sources tell TPMDC it's a more hands-off approach (for now) as Reid (D-NV) builds something that his caucus will fully support. Meanwhile, Pelosi (D-CA) is presenting the "robust" public option as the more fiscally responsible choice in hopes of pushing the conservative Blue Dogs closer to support it.

Pelosi is working hard to hit the 218 votes needed for passage by bringing together the most divergent factions in her caucus.

President Obama, for his part, urged Democrats last night to consider unity over the perfect bill, highlighting good things in "the bill you least like."

Progressive Democrats learning of the president's comments this morning were baffled since there seems to be growing support for the public option and the Congressional Budget Office is expected to score the bill with that included as less costly than originally anticipated.

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