TPM News

Appearing on MSNBC a few moments ago, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) seemed quite pleased by the news that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) would vote for the Senate Finance Committee health insurance reform bill.

"It'll now be a 14-9 vote coming out of Finance Committee," he said. "That's a huge margin. Olympia makes it bipartisan. This is a first step in a long process, but it's an extremely important first step."

Nelson also had a prediction:

"Susan Collins now will likely come with her fellow Maine senator once they vote on the floor."

Yesterday, [we told you]( about the foundation closely linked to Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) that's taken nearly a million dollars from companies with interest in legislation moving through his committees, but given out nothing for its stated purpose, college scholarships for Indiana students.

Here's a closer look at who has donated to the Frontier Foundation, and how some of the money has been spent.

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Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) held a town hall meeting on health care in his district last night -- and seemed to be doing his best to avoid controversy.

Grayson stuck to policy specifics -- though at one point he was confronted by a man who tried to turn Grayson's "die quickly" attack on the Republicans right back at him. "I'd like to know if he's aware that it was actually Richard Lamm, Democratic Governor of Colorado, in 1984, who said it's your duty to die if you get sick," the man said. "And I think that that's a hypocritical statement of yours, to tar other people with something that the Democrats said."

"You have mischaracterized what I said, you've mischaracterized what Gov. Lamm said," Grayson replied. "Our time is limited tonight, and I'm not gonna debate politics, I'm gonna debate health care. So we're gonna go on to the next question." He then proceeded to talk about the need for a public option to create health care competition:

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It's been called a "bombshell," but Democrats are saying the America's Health Insurance Plans report has helped unify the party around the health care bill(s). They say it's much easier to fight the big, bad insurance lobby that burned the White House than, for example, a Congressional Budget Office report showing increased costs and insurmountable debt as the American people are wary of skyrocketing deficits.

However, a key Democratic Senate leadership aide told TPMDC that while the report angered Democrats, it is highly unlikely to move any votes for the final bill. Another Democrat agreed the report "should" galvanize the party but doubted Democrats would take full advantage of the report, which left out some key elements in its analysis.

Responding to that news, the DNC's Brad Woodhouse referred to it as the "AHIP Hatchet Job" and warned that anyone using the "phony" report will be subject to one of the party's "Call you out" campaigns.

"This should lay to rest any notion that the AHIP report has any credibility whatsoever or that it should be used by members of Congress in their deliberations over health insurance reform," Woodhouse said.

Organizing for America, the spinoff of the Obama campaign housed at the DNC, hasn't planned any formal pushback yet but is making sure volunteers have the talking points so they can shoot the report down if they are asked while knocking on doors and making calls.

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On the day the Senate Finance Committee is expected to take up its final vote on its version of a health care reform bill, small business leaders are rallying across the country in support of the inclusion of a public option in any reform package passed by the committee.

The Main Street Alliance -- a coalition of small business owners across the country -- is sponsoring today's rallies, which will bring business owners and lawmakers together in 11 states.

The group says the goal of the rallies is to "urge" members of the committee "and leaders in both chambers to include a public option, true affordability measures, and to replace the flawed 'free rider' proposal with fair employer contribution."

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Reached on her cell phone by TPMmuckraker and informed of the $20,000 fine imposed on her by a federal judge this morning, Birther attorney Orly Taitz responded, first, with laughter.

"So he didn't recuse himself?" Taitz asked, after letting out an extended, nervous-sounding chuckle.

Still defiant after months of legal wrangling and, by our count, three written denunciations by federal district court Judge Clay Land, Taitz said she had absolutely no plans to pay the $20,000 fine.

"Are you kidding? Of course not," she said, asked whether she planned to send a check. "This is a form of intimidation."

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The Center for American Progress issued a statement today from "leading health care experts" on the "misleading AHIP report" about the Senate Finance Committee health insurance reform bill. The statement is signed by Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution; David Cutler of Harvard University; Judy Feder of Georgetown University, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress; Elliott S. Fisher of Dartmouth Medical School; Arnold Milstein of the Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine; Len Nichols of the New America Foundation; and Meredith Rosenthal of Harvard University. Here's the full text:

Recently America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) released a study that claims the reform plan being developed by the Senate Finance Committee would dramatically raise the cost of health insurance. We believe the study is flawed and that the results are not credible.

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The newest TV ad from Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) continues the attack against Republican nominee Chris Christie, for supporting the legalization of insurance policies not subject to state mandates to cover certain procedures -- and in the latest ad, some of those mandates are listed one by one.

"Where's Chris Christie on health care? With the insurance industry," the announcer says. "He'd let them drop coverage for mammograms. For prostate cancer screenings. Autism screenings. They could force new mothers and their babies out of the hospital sooner."

The announcer later adds: "The insurance industry doesn't need a governor. We do."

The RNC launched a new version of its homepage this morning and in a statement, party chair Michael Steele said the homepage was the reflection of his vision for the GOP:

"When I ran for RNC Chairman, I committed to improving the Republican Party's online ability to inform our grassroots supporters and mobilize them behind important issues, while also electing our great candidates. With the new that went live today, the RNC will be able to accomplish exactly that."

Just a few hours after the launch, though, Democrats are claiming the site reflects the party's current state more than its future. Flying around Twitter this morning is a link to the new site's "Future GOP leaders" page. Instead of fresh faces, it the page lists "404 Error: This page could not be found."

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The new survey of New Jersey from Public Policy Polling (D) confirms the trend of this gubernatorial race coming down the wire, with Republican Chris Christie ahead of Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine by just one point.

The numbers: Christie 40%, Corzine 39%, and independent Chris Daggett 13%, with a ±4.1% margin of error. A month ago, Christie had a much bigger lead of 44%-35%-13%.

The pollster also asked respondents about an emerging question in this race: Is Corzine attacking Christie for his weight?

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