TPM News

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) insisted a few minutes ago on CNN that the public option is not -- not -- dead. Even though the Senate Finance Committee rejected a public health insurance option today, not once, but twice when amendments by both Rockefeller and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that called for a public option were voted down -- 15-8 and 13-10, respectively.

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Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who lost by a very narrow margin to Democrat Al Franken in the heavily-litigated 2008 Minnesota Senate race, doesn't appear to be done with politics just yet.

In a possible sign that Coleman could still be trying to maintain his profile among the Minnesota GOP grassroots, he has reportedly authored a fundraising letter for a real hero of the GOP base, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN):

Make no mistake about it -- this opposition isn't coming from the Minnesotans she represents in Washington. It's coming from the liberal netroots in places like San Francisco, Manhattan and Vermont. It's coming from the same people who bankrolled Al Franken's race against me and his legal battle to deny honest Minnesotans a fair vote last November.

(Emphasis in the original.)

The Bachmann campaign did not return our requests for comment.

(Via Dump Bachmann and Checks and Balances.)

I just spoke to Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life conservative organization the Susan B. Anthony List, and she indicated to me that the national Republican Party will be facing a backlash for supporting a pro-choice Republican candidate in the upcoming NY-23 special election, a swing seat formerly held by Republican Rep. John McHugh, who is now President Obama's Secretary of the Army.

I started off by asking Dannenfelser, whose organization has endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, whether she's worried about splitting the conservative vote and handing the election to the Democrat.

"Normally in many situations that certainly can be the case, and we wouldn't want to have somebody that will end up voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, that's for sure," said Dannenfelser. "But in this case it's just such a different district, and their self-identification is so in line with Hoffman. It's a shame he didn't get the Republican nomination, because he actually seems like a Republican, and the Republican nominee doesn't seem like a Republican."

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A mailer being sent by health insurers to seniors, and obtained by TPMmuckraker, seeks to exploit fears about Congressional changes to the health care system to sell supplemental insurance. And it contains false claims about "new" reductions in Medicare benefits imposed by Congress.

Yesterday, 66-year-old Donna Price of Battle Ground, Washington, received this official-looking mailer in a pull-apart envelope from direct mail firm Target Leads (aka TL Service Center).

It announces: "IMPORTANT: NEW MEDICARE CHANGES." And continues:

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The Senate Finance Committee can't even endorse a modest public option like Chuck Schumer's. Citing his belief that a public option can't pass on the Senate floor "at this time," Finance chairman Max Baucus joined two Democrats and all Republicans in voting down the amendment, which failed 10 to 13.

Joining Baucus on the Democrats' side of the dais were Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and, by proxy, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) who wasn't present for the vote.

There will be no public option in the Finance Committee's health care bill.

In the period after 9/11, law-enforcement agencies around the country suddenly made rooting out anyone with possible ties to terrorism a top priority. But did one Bush appointee take that zeal too far by targeting people based on little more than an Arabic-sounding name?

The Convenience Store Initiative was the farcical-sounding name of a program launched by the office of Jim Greenlee, the US attorney for Mississippi's northern district, according to documents obtained by the state's Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

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The Associated Press has tracked down the son of the Bill Sparkman, the Census Bureau worker found dead earlier this month in rural Kentucky. And Josh Sparkman, 19, has no doubt his father was murdered.

"I look at it as disrespectful to be still throwing suicide and accident around," he said. "He didn't do this to himself. That's dishonorable. My dad was a good man. No person on this planet is going to fight cancer like he did, then turn around and kill himself a year or so later."

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Yesterday, HarperCollins announced that Sarah Palin's much-anticipated memoir will now be released on November 17. Originally slated for spring 2010, the 400-page book's release was moved up after a quick finish by Palin and ghostwriter Lynn Vincent.

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In an interesting statement ahead of a public option vote earlier today, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) said he opposes a Medicare-like public option on the grounds that North Dakota providers get low Medicare reimbursement rates.

That's a parochial concern and one that would be easy to fix in theory. In practice he voted against the Rockefeller amendment. But here comes the Schumer amendment, which would not be tied to Medicare at all. That completely undercuts his objection. So let's see how he votes.