TPM News

A foundation closely linked to Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) has collected over $800,000 in donations, much of it from industry sources with stakes in legislation moving through Buyer's committees, but has given out just $10,500 in six years and spent a whopping $258,136 in operating expenses, the Lafayette Journal & Courier reported Sunday.

Buyer's daughter is the president of the Frontier Foundation, which was set up purportedly to give scholarships to Indiana students, Buyer himself was described as "honorary chairman" in a 2004 solicitation letter, and the organization in June listed Buyer's district office as its office.

Despite all of that, Buyer's office told the newspaper, "It's not Congressman Buyer's foundation," and declined an interview request.

The Journal & Courier reports:

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview with NBC this weekend in Switzerland (and broadcast on Today this morning) that President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize won't influence "some of these tough decisions" he has to make on the war in Afghanistan.

Clinton said the prize was a recognition of Obama's "attitude toward America's role in the world, his willingness to challenge everyone to kind of step up and take responsibility" and that it "really restores an image and an appreciation of our country."

On Afghanistan, Clinton made an interesting comment -- in response to a question from NBC's Ann Curry -- implying that if the U.S. doesn't send more troops to Afghanistan, it might be immoral to keep any troops there at all.

"If the President decides not to send more troops to Afghanistan, morally, can he still keep 68,000 U.S. troops there?"

Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) made a similar point on CNN yesterday, saying that if Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal doesn't have enough troops, "that gets very difficult in terms of a moral dilemma, asking the troops to do something that you believe is going to fail."

Will be interesting to see how the proposed troop increase gets cast in "moral" terms in the coming days.

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The spokesman for the Democratic majority on the Senate Finance Committee pulled no punches in his response to a new health insurance lobby study that's critical of the reform bill drawn up by the committee.

"This report is untrue, disingenuous and bought and paid for by the same health insurance companies that have been gouging too many consumers for too long as they stand in the way of reform yet again," Scott Mulhauser said. "It's a health insurance company hatchet job, plain and simple."

Read his full comment after the jump.

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The White House is pushing back on the new study commissioned by America's Health Insurance Plans suggesting health care costs would increase under the bill the Senate Finance Committee is voting on this week.

White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass called the report a "self-serving analysis" from an opponent of any kind of health insurance reform.

"It comes on the eve of a vote that will reduce the industry's profits," Douglass told TPMDC. "It is hard to take it seriously. The analysis completely ignores critical policies will lower costs for those who have insurance, expand coverage and provide affordable health insurance options to millions of Americans who are priced out of today's health insurance market or are locked out by unfair insurance company practices."

AHIP is a D.C.-based association representing more than 1,000 insurance companies and has been fighting the administration's efforts all year.

We'll have more on this throughout the day - if you hear members of Congress citing the report, let us know.

Late update: Evan has the Senate Finance Committee Dems' response here.

Later update: An AHIP spokesman responded on Fox this morning and we have the clip.

Hillary Clinton: Obama Given Nobel For Restoring 'Image And Appreciation of Our Country' Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Today show that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of "his attitude toward America's role in the world." "His willingness to really kind of challenge everyone ... restores a kind of image and appreciation of our country," said Clinton.

Baucus Bill Committee Vote Will Require Leap Of Faith For Several Senators The Hill reports that the Baucus bill is likely to clear the Finance Committee, with the votes of Democratic members who are in fact critics of it -- but are taking a leap of faith that they can improve it on the Senate floor: "The fact that critics of the Baucus bill such as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are already strategizing for the floor debate is a strongest indication that Baucus will have the support he needs on Tuesday."

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Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network -- an organization that assists those affected by "don't ask, don't tell" -- released a rather lukewarm statement in response to President Obama's speech Saturday night at a Human Rights Campaign event.

We were heartened to hear the President say, "I will end 'don't ask, don't tell.'" But an opportunity was missed tonight. SLDN was disappointed the President did not lay out a timeline and specifics for repeal. The 65,000 gay and lesbian service members -- who put their lives on the line and who remain impatient with the pace of progress -- deserve to know when their commander in chief and Congress plan on getting rid of this law.

We received a similar statement from Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out -- a nonprofit that seeks to defend "the GLBT community against anti-gay misinformation campaigns through media advocacy and university outreach."

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This weekend, the DNC launched a new ad touting the support of "more and more leading Republicans" for health care reform. The ad claimed health insurance reform has the support of former GOP Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, former Republican Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and former Senator and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.

"Bob Dole said, 'I want this to pass, we've got to do something,'" the ad says.

Well, Bob Dole's not too happy about that.

Dole's spokesman told The New York Times this morning that "he believes it is deceptive, it was not authorized, and he asked that it be pulled."

To Dole's credit, the DNC did carve out an important part of Dole's original quote, which appeared this summer in the Kansas City Star.

"I want this to pass," he said. "I don't agree with everything Obama is presenting, but we've got to do something."

The emphasis is mine. But the DNC seems to have significantly changed the meaning of the quote by omitting that qualifier.

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Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed optimism Sunday on Meet the Press that President Obama would be able to keep his promise on ending the military ban on gays.

"I think he will and he can," Levin said. "I think it has to be done in the right way, which is to get a buy-in from the military, which I think is now possible."

Levin said definitively that he believes the President has the resolve to overturn "don't ask, don't tell," but seemed slightly less certain when asked about the resolve of Congress.

"I think we will gain that resolve," Levin said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) coauthored an op-ed with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in today's New York Times calling for bipartisan action in the Senate on a climate change bill.

We are confident that a legitimate bipartisan effort can put America back in the lead again and can empower our negotiators to sit down at the table in Copenhagen in December and insist that the rest of the world join us in producing a new international agreement on global warming. That way, we will pass on to future generations a strong economy, a clean environment and an energy-independent nation.

If Graham really does join with the Democrats, it would seemingly increase the chances of climate change legislation passing the Senate -- where 60 votes might very well be needed to pass a bill.

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