TPM News

Alberto Gonzales has taken a break from his teaching load at Texas Tech to give a remarkably unselfconscious interview with Esquire, saying the Bush Administration should have dropped its plan to purge U.S. attorneys in 2006 because "at that point we could really not count on Republicans to cut off investigations or help us at all with investigations."

By Gonzo's reasoning, the problem was not the firings themselves, but rather the prospect that the Bush Administration would get caught:

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Before heading to Oslo to scoop up his Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama will talk to members of Congress about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will huddle in the Cabinet Room with key lawmakers to outline "next steps for growing the economy and creating jobs."

Yesterday Obama detailed ways to spend some of the leftover TARP funds to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

He said the money would go to small businesses, for infrastructure investment to improve highways, bridges and airports and a new rebate for homeowners dubbed "cash for caulkers" to reward people who retrofit their homes to be more energy efficient.

Obama's economic adviser Christina Romer told reporters yesterday that jobs is the constant refrain at the White House.

"The president asks us nearly every day are we doing enough on jobs," she said.

The White House's list of today's expected attendees after the jump.

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Last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed Richard Cohen, an author who claims he can cure homosexuality.

Maddow argued that such claims are being appropriated in the persecution of gays, particularly in Uganda where a bill to make homosexuality punishable by death is being considered.

According to Maddow, American groups -- including The Family, a Christian group made up of lawmakers that runs the C Street house -- are pushing the Ugandan law.


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This was the year to invest in a TiVo -- if you didn't have a fast-forward button on your TV, chances are you wished you did during the health care debate. A leading expert in political advertising says $1 billion was spent on political ads this year, with the vast majority of that coming from issue advocacy groups.

The health care debate fueled much of the spending this year, according to Evan Tracey of TNS Media Intelligence. But, ironically, the stepped up pace of political advertising may not continue through to next year's midterm election In an interview with Media Life magazine yesterday, Tracey said economic factors could keep candidates next year from passing 2006's midterm election record of $3.4 billion in ad spending.

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The White House health care team sends over a brief statement from communications director Dan Pfeiffer on what senators say is a tentative deal tonight:

"Senators are making great progress and we're pleased that they're working together to find common ground toward options that increase choice and competition."

There has been a lot of debate tonight on whether the public option is dead. Sen. Russ Feingold doesn't sound thrilled, and the other senators in the gang of 10 who held the private negotiations aren't saying anything.

Reading between the lines here in a statement from a team who knows President Obama has been accused of not standing firm enough for a public option, they think what happened in the meeting may strike the right political balance.

An aide briefed on the negotiations among the gang of 10 offers up the rundown of the most important aspects of the public option compromise being sent to CBO.

If this trade-off carries the day, the opt out public option is gone.

In its place will be many of the alternatives we've been hearing about, including a Medicare expansion and a triggered, federally-based public option, the aide said.

As has been widely reported, one of the trade-offs will be to extend a version of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan to consumers in the exchanges. Insurance companies will have the option of creating nationally-based non-profit insurance plans that would offered on the exchanges in every state. However, according to the aide, if insurance companies don't step up to the plate to offer such plans, that will trigger a national public option.

Beyond that, the group agreed--contingent upon CBO analysis--to a Medicare buy in.

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Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has won the Democratic nomination in the special election for Senate -- close to a win in the general election itself, in this Democratic state, in the race to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

With 94% of precincts reporting, Coakley has 47%, well ahead of her nearest opponent, Rep. Mike Capuano, with 28%. Coakley will face Republican state Sen. Scott Brown in the general election, which will be held on January 19, and in which the Democratic candidate will be heavily favored.

Coakley, who was elected attorney general in 2006 after having previously been Middlesex County District Attorney, was the only statewide official in the race. She began the primary as the clear frontrunner, and easily fended off efforts by Capuano to out-flank her on the left.

It should be noted that Capuano is not done with politics or out of office -- this was a special election, and he did not have to risk his current House seat for the race.

Other news outlets are walking back reports that the public option has been scotched from the Senate health care bill, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted the popular provision is still alive.

Apparently the confusion isn't just among the news outlets.

We hear from a Senate Democratic aide that offices are being deluged with calls after the "tentative deal" the health care gang of 10 reached tonight.

The aide tells TPMDC even Reid senior staff are trying to piece it together.

The bottom line is they "swear" the public option is "not dead," the aide said.

"Few outside ten members themselves have details, including Reid," the aide said, adding that staffers were kicked out of the negotiating room when they neared a deal.

Late Update: The White House team says they are pleased.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) issued a short statement about negotiations on a public option in the health care bill that suggests he's not happy:

"While I appreciate the willingness of all parties to engage in good-faith discussions, I do not support proposals that would replace the public option in the bill with a purely private approach. We need to have some competition for the insurance industry to keep rates down and save taxpayer dollars. I will base my vote on the bill on the entirety of what is in the bill, and whether I think the bill is good for Wisconsin."


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