TPM News

Before House Democrats unveiled their health care bill, the caucus huddled in the basement of the Capitol to get fired up. As the meeting broke, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) darted down the hall and a reporter asked him how many votes he had.

"All we need," Clyburn shouted back, cheekily.

Inside the caucus room, members broke into applause.

Unsurprisingly, optimism was the theme of the morning among House Democrats, though some progressives aren't completely pleased with the outcome.

Rep Lynne Woolsey (D-CA)--co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus--said, emphatically, that when she and other liberal leaders meet with the President tonight, she wants to hear him say "that he supports a strong public option and he will take that over to the Senate." As for whether she can support the bill in the House with a somewhat weakened public option, Woolsey told me she needs to learn more.

"We're looking at what they've put in the bill to make up for it not being Medicare-plus-five, to see if it covers...our same goals," she said.

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In a speech this morning to the Chamber of Commerce, small business owners and other organizations, President Obama pitched health care reform as something that would benefit small businesses.

"The bottom line is that too many Americans like you can't afford to build the kinds of businesses you'd been hoping to build," Obama said. "And too many budding entrepreneurs can't afford to take a gamble on a smart idea because they can't give up the health insurance they get in their current job. That's bad for our economy, it's bad for our country, and it's what we'll change when health insurance reform becomes law."

He called the unveiling of the House version of the health care bill a "critical milestone."

Many business organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, have lobbied against health care reform.

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

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The White House sends over a lengthy statement from President Obama on the house health care bill.

He says he's sure there will be more debate but congratulated Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House leadership for "countless hours of hard work" and for forging "a strong consensus that represents a historic step forward."

Compare that with the White House response to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's reveal Monday. Obama was "pleased" with public option but not as effusive in that statement.

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the NY-23 race finds this to be a dead heat between Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman -- and moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava in third.

The numbers: Owens 33%, Hoffman 32%, Scozzafava 21%, with a ±4% margin of error. Last week, Owens had 35%, Scozzafava 30%, and Hoffman 23%.

Two other polls commissioned by groups backing Hoffman -- the Club For Growth and the Minuteman PAC -- have shown Hoffman with a lead over Owens, and Scozzafava in third.

Special elections are notoriously difficult to poll, due to low and unpredictable turnout patterns, and the nature of a three-way race makes it all the more complicated. At this point, though, we have enough evidence to say with a reasonable level of confidence that the race is probably between Owens and Hoffman.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), champion of a nonprofit coop over a government-run public option, told CNBC today that Senate leadership asked him months ago to come up with an alternative. The leaders, he said, didn't think they could get 60 votes for a public option.

"The reason I was asked to advance an alternative was it was clear at the time ... that there were not the votes for a public option," he said. With Sens. Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd ill, and one of the Minnesota seats not filled, "we only had 57 votes."

"So I was asked to come up with something that would be a not for profit competitor that was not government run," he said.

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Steve Miller of ACCCE just told the Markey committee that his firm never opposed the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation.

But look at this Greenwire story, via the New York Times, from last month ... and especially this "clarification."

Clarification: This story was changed to state that ACCCE opposed Waxman-Markey. An ACCCE spokeswoman in an interview Wednesday said that ACCCE was not opposed to Waxman-Markey but later in the day said that was an error and ACCCE at the time of the vote opposed the bill.

So clearly there's been confusion about this before. But it looks like Miller just said something that's flatly not true.

NRCC communications director Ken Spain released this statement on the House Democrats' unveiling of their health care bill, making it clear that the GOP will try to keep on using this issue as a cudgel against Democrats in swing districts:

"The lasting image coming out of today's press conference is one of dozens of House Democrats standing proudly behind an incredibly unpopular Nancy Pelosi as she prepares to lead them off a political cliff. Not only will the Democrats' government takeover of healthcare lead to increased costs, higher taxes, and cuts to Medicare, it also feeds into the emerging narrative that Nancy Pelosi and her puppets are more interested in creating government even if it comes at the expense of creating jobs."

Rep. Inslee is now telling Steve Miller of ACCCE that as "penance" for the forged letter fiasco, his group should tell Sen. James Inhofe that we need to take serious efforts to limit global warming legislation.

And that they should run an ad that says at the top: "We need CO2 regulation in America and we need it fast."

Miller, unsurprisingly, is unwiling to do this.

It certainly wasn't the "flash mob" organizers were hoping for, but a small but determined group of Tea Party Patriots gathered on the Capitol Lawn this morning to protest the announcement of a final House health care reform bill.

TPMDC counted about 10 Tea Partiers holding signs denouncing a "government takeover" of health care and looking with disdain as House Democrats gathered on the Capitol Steps. They stood in a larger group of protesters from other groups, mostly focused on abortion rights.

Joann Abbott, a grandmother from Northern Virginia, made the drive to the protest this morning after seeing the email sent by Tea Party leaders last night. When asked if she was part of the "flash mob," she laughed. "I'm here on my own," she said, looking around at the scattered protesters around her. "If this is organized, we suck."

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