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After delaying and delaying health care legislation, and then missing the deadline to complete work on a bill by August recess, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) now says the new deadline for health care reform is September 15--one week after Senate returns to work.

Crucially, though, he says his committee will begin marking up legislation with or without GOP support. In other words, it's put up or shut up time for Republicans.

Baucus may have little choice. Mid-September would leave precious little time for the bill to be merged with the Senate HELP committee's legislation, debated, and passed on the floor before October when Congress is set to pass a budget reconciliation bill. A budget reconciliation bill can't be filibustered, and Democrats have kept alive the possibility of passing reform legislation (or certain aspects of reform legislation) via reconciliation, if Republicans don't allow a vote on a stand-alone reform bill by the fall.

At his press conference just now, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) made it clear that despite his early-stage cancer diagnosis, he will still be running for re-election in 2010.

"I'm running for re-election. Now I'll be a little meaner and a little meaner, but I'm running," said Dodd.

He explained that he'll be a bit lighter, too: "I'll be running without a prostate."

Dodd also said that he's known for weeks about his diagnosis, and was working out a course of treatment, and did not go public because he did not want to make himself an exhibit in the health care debate that he was working on. "It's not about me," said Dodd. "It's about people who are without health care."

That may have been Dodd's intention. But the fact is, now that he has gone public, he is an exhibit in the debate, and his illness is sure to be brought up in future discussions.

Late Update: In a new Twitter post, Dodd incorporates the political angle to all this: "I'd like to thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. I'm going to be fine. We caught this early thanks to my great health insurance."

That was quick.

A Democratic lawmaker has announced an investigation into the forged letters sent by a Washington lobbying firm to a member of Congress. The letters, which purported to come from Hispanic and African-American groups, urged Rep. Tom Perriello to oppose the recent climate change bill.

Rep. Ed Markey, who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, just sent out the following release:

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If I were on the board of directors of the Kaplan test prep company, and discovered that the people running a money-losing Kaplan subsidiary affiliate (better known as the Washington Post) had greenlighted a feature called "Mouthpiece Theater," I would demand that either they be fired, or that the Post itself be liquidated.

In today's episode, Dana Milbank suggests "Mad Bitch" beer would be appropriate for Hilary Clinton. Get it?

If you can't stand to click over, fast forward to about 2 min 35 seconds below.

Late update: The embed seems not to be working, but for now at least you can still see the video here.

Later update: I've replaced the WaPo's embed with a Youtube clip of the same segment.

Latest update: The Post has pulled the video.

Released by the White House Press Office:

The President had lunch with the following business leaders today in the Private Dining Room:

Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon and Chairman of the Business Roundtable

Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart

Dan DiMicco, CEO of Nucor

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has become a prominent critic of President Obama and the Democrats recently, appearing on TV and writing newspaper columns warning against a government takeover of health care. "When government bureaucracies drive the delivery of services -- in this case inserting themselves between health-care providers and their patients -- quality degradation will surely come," Jindal wrote in a recent column for the Wall Street Journal.

But underneath the air of expertise -- he's a former state health secretary -- it's important to consider that that there is a long-running ideological commitment here. The thing about Jindal is this: Over his public career, he has consistently opposed any expansion of government health care, and has even tried to cut, eliminate or partially-privatize existing programs.

For example, his budget plan this year calls for cuts to existing services; he used his line-item veto to force the closure of the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital; and he successfully opposed an increase in the state's relatively low cigarette taxes, which would have funded state healthcare.

And this also goes back to before he was governor, too.

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OK, this is a good one...

Via The American Prospect: Freshman Democratic congressman Tom Perriello -- whose Virginia district leans Republican -- faced a tough decision last month over whether to support the climate change bill. As he was weighing the issue, he got a letter from a non-profit group in his district that focuses on issues of importance to Hispanics. The letter urged Perriello to oppose the bill because it could raise low-income members' utility bills. "Many of our members are on tight budgets and the sizes of their monthly utility bills are important expense items," it read in part.

Read More →

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and will undergo surgery in August, he told the Hartford Courant in an interview.

Dodd told the paper he feels fine and intends to run for re-election in 2010. He said he will return to the Senate after a "brief recuperation" at home.

"As you have probably noticed, I'm working some long and hard hours lately,'' Dodd told the paper. "And that will continue."

Dodd is holding a news conference at 2 p.m. ET in Hartford to discuss the diagnosis.

Late Update: The senator's top aide wrote in a letter to other staffers Dodd's "prognosis is excellent -- we expect a full recovery," Roll Call reports. "He will have surgery after the Senate adjourns next week, and after a couple of weeks of recuperation, he will be back at work when we reconvene."

Just as a bit of an update, since there have been so many ups and downs, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) says health care legislation is still on track to pass his panel, probably before day's end.

Waxman says he's managed to mollify progressives on his panel by restoring some subsidies to uninsured, middle-class Americans who, under the terms of the bill, will have to buy health care on the individual market. At a glance, this mini-bargain doesn't seem as if it will placate the 57 progressive signatories to this letter, who say they won't vote for the final bill unless minor changes to the public option, made at the behest of House Blue Dogs, are reversed.

But I'll look into it.