TPM News

Here's the latest development in the Snowestakes: Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) says that though she'd prefer health care reform legislation to have broader Republican support, she's not going to let her party dictate her vote on the issue.

"Obviously, I'm a Republican, but I'd like to have more Republicans," she told CNBC's John Harwood.

But asked whether having more Republicans is a requirement, she said, pointedly, "no...I'm going to support the right policy."



Yesterday, I noted that Snowe believes her party has changed, leaving her an isolated moderate. And it's sounding more and more like she's resolved herself not to cave to pressure from the right to stand with the GOP in opposition to health care reform.

Earlier this week, Roland Burris (D-IL) became the first member of the Senate to definitively say he'll vote against health care reform legislation unless it includes a public option.

That's an important development, but, looking at the math in the Senate, it would be a really important development if Burris was saying he'd help filibuster the bill if it omitted a public option. So I asked for a bit of clarification from Burris' staff, and his spokesman Jim O'Connor said "the Senator was very serious in saying he will vote against any bill that doesn't include a public option."

But, he added, "[h]is goal is not to be an obstructionist, but as his statement said, to build consensus among his colleagues for a public option."

So it doesn't seem likely that he'd block a health care bill from coming to the floor for a vote over this issue. But he could still pave the way for other liberal senators to take a similarly strong stance. We'll keep an eye out for that.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is looking for a reason to support health care reform, according to MSNBC correspondent Chuck Todd -- a very good sign for the Democrats.

"Every sign Olympia Snowe is giving is that she wants to find a reason to support this legislation, not oppose it," Todd said this morning.

"This isn't just about getting her. But getting her guarantees those last four or five, some of the more conservative Democrats," he said.

Yesterday, Snowe signed a statement with conservative Democrats Joe Lieberman, Claire McCaskill and Ben Nelson commending the proposal put forth by Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus (D-MT), a sign that they'll likely support similar legislation.

It's also "more likely than less likely" that if Snowe supports the bill, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) will also fall in line, Todd said.

The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the Virginia gubernatorial race has Republican Bob McDonnell still leading Democrat Creigh Deeds by a healthy margin.

The numbers: McDonnell 50%, Deeds 43%, with a ±4% margin of error. This is essentially unchanged from the last Kos/R2K poll in early August, when McDonnell was ahead 51%-43%.

This differs from yesterday's Rasmussen poll, which put McDonnell ahead by only 48%-46%, and suggested that his hard-right college thesis was hurting him.

It's long been known (reported at TPMDC and elsewhere) that, among the now defunct Gang of Six, two senators were advocates for giving poor and middle class taxpayers greater government assistance to buy health insurance: Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and, unexpectedly Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

But now Snowe says that, if she's to support the final package out of the finance committee, the subsidies in the bill will have to be strengthened. "[T]here would have to be more subsidies," she told the New York Times.

That's something liberals support to, though it would require more revenue, which likely means new taxes. And Snowe's been less forthcoming about how to pay for the subsidies than about her general support for them.

Still, reformers on the left probably won't be too excited by this. Despite advocating for greater government assistance, Snowe also opposes a public option unless it's affixed to a trigger mechanism, and supports the "free-rider" provision, which would make it profitable for employers to discriminate against poor people.

Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) is the first candidate to come out with a TV ad in the special election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. In Capuano's new ad, he very strongly ties himself to Ted Kennedy's legacy, and puts himself forward as the truly progressive candidate.

"Only one candidate stood with Ted Kennedy against Bush's Iraq War, and mirrors his progressive record," the announcer says. "Mike Capuano: passionate, progressive, supports a strong public health care option, equal marriage, middle class tax cuts, ethics reform, pro-choice, and against the death penalty."

After courting Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) for months--making concession after concession and coming up empty, and angering Democrats who were shut out of negotiations--Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus may be preparing to make amends by undoing some of the damage he made in the name of consensus.

A new report out from Roll Call suggests the new goal is a bill that can win each of the panel's Democrats plus, perhaps, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

"I think there's a view on the part of the chairman and on the part of just about everyone who was there to try and come up with a consensus that every Democrat, and perhaps Olympia Snowe, could support," after meeting with committee Democrats. "I would say, just about everyone in the room thought it's doable."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) opposes the bill as it stands from the left, and has said that other Democrats on the panel were infuriated by the length and failure of the process. Snowe, meanwhile, hasn't said one way or another what she'll do. Democrats were initially skeptical that she'd sign on, but a number of signs yesterday suggest that she's leaning toward supporting the bill as it moves out of committee.

If Snowe opposes the bill, Baucus can afford to lose no more than one Democrat. So consensus--or near consensus--within the party will be critical for him.

Values Voters Summit Begins Today, To Feature GOP Presidential Straw Poll The Values Voters Summit is kicking off today in Washington, and will feature such conservative politicians as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and others. Most notably, the event will have a 2012 presidential straw poll, which will test the current appeal of various Republican politicians among religious right activists. The results of the straw poll will be announced on Saturday.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama does not have any public events scheduled today. At 1 p.m. ET, he will have a closed-press meeting with recipients of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Read More →

President Obama is filming his unprecedented five Sunday show interviews today with ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Univision.

The interviews, which will focus on health care reform, are being taped in the White House.

Fox is not included in the lineup, possibly because the network ran "So You Think You Can Dance" during last week's address to a joint session of Congress.

LiveWire