TPM News

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement by e-mail today on President Obama's announcement to permit offshore drilling for oil and gas:

The Obama Administration continues to defy the will of the American people who strongly supported the bipartisan decision of Congress in 2008 to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling not just off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, but off the Pacific Coast and Alaskan shores as well. Opening up areas off the Virginia coast to offshore production is a positive step, but keeping the Pacific Coast and Alaska, as well as the most promising resources off the Gulf of Mexico, under lock and key makes no sense at a time when gasoline prices are rising and Americans are asking 'Where are the jobs?'

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President Obama spoke today at Andrews Air Force Base announcing a decision to permit offshore drilling for oil and gas. Here are his complete prepared remarks:

Thank you, Secretary Salazar. Ken and I were colleagues in the Senate, and I appointed him because I knew he'd be a faithful and pragmatic steward of our natural resources. As Secretary, he's changing the way the Interior Department does business so that we are responsibly developing traditional sources of energy and renewable sources of energy, from the wind on the high plains to the sun in the deserts to the waves off our coasts.

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The new Quinnipiac poll of Ohio shows the Democratic candidates leading in the gubernatorial race, plus the election for the open Senate seat of retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich -- with the potential for a Democratic turnaround in the wake of the health care bill's passage.

In the Senate race, Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner were each tested against Republican Rob Portman, a former Congressman and former Bush administration official. Fisher leads Portman by 41%-37%, and Brunner has an edge of 38%-37%. In February, Portman led Fisher by 40%-37%, and led Brunner by 40%-35%. The margin of error is ±2.5%. The TPM Poll Average gives Portman an edge of 39.6%-38.6% over Fisher, and a 39.4%-38.1% edge over Brunner, with recent movement in the Democrats' direction.

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Democrats in Washington have popped the champagne and are basking in the political victory of passing health care reform. But back in the states, government officials are starting the real work of implementing the plan. And it's more chaotic than celebratory.

Health care reform is barely one week old, and state health officials are scrambling to inform their citizens about what it actually means. It's a task that's not so easy when it's preceded by a yearlong political fight and comes against a backdrop of more than a dozen lawsuits across the country challenging the legitimacy of reform. Not that a massive overhaul of the health care system would ever be easy to explain.

TPMDC has been checking in with state health offices from the Mountain West to the Sunshine State to find out how officials are handling the major question of what the states must do under the new law. President Obama's administration is helping state officials learn what's in the law, and the various dates its provisions take effect. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with state health officials at a conference Monday to outline the law. Insurance commissioners gathered to talk about new regulations on insurers over the weekend. Top Congressional staffers are huddling today with aides representing state and county governments.

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Marco Rubio has picked up another big-name national conservative in his Republican primary for Senate in Florida, with his campaign announcing the support of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

The Rubio campaign's press release contains a direct attack by Coburn on Rubio's opponent, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, for having supported President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill. Rubio has capitalized heavily on this issue to turn Crist from the initial establishment favorite into a severely-trailing underdog. The TPM Poll Average currently gives Rubio a lead of 57.4%-29.1% in the Republican primary, after Crist had previously enjoyed a similar lead last summer.

"From the 'Bridge to Nowhere' to the 'Woodstock Museum,' I've fought all kinds of wasteful spending throughout my career," Coburn said. "But in my lifetime, I've never seen as wasteful a spending project as the failed $787 billion stimulus bill that Marco's opponents supported. I have full confidence Marco will stand against costly disasters like the stimulus bill and government-run health care."

In an interview on MSNBC this morning, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be brought to justice "in some form or another."

"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in one form or another, will have to answer for his crimes. And I believe he will be guilty and will have to pay the punishment for those crimes," Gibbs said, adding that he believes that punishment will be execution.

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The University of Washington tried to organize a debate on whether the health-care reform bill is constitutional. But it couldn't find a law professor to argue that it isn't, reports the Seattle Times.

"I will say that we tried very hard to get a professor who could come and who thinks this is flat-out unconstitutional," said the moderator. "But there are relatively few of them, and they are in great demand."

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As anybody who followed the year-long fight over health care reform no doubt recalls, sometimes the most turbulent part of the legislative process comes after both the House and Senate have passed different versions of a bill. Though financial regulatory reform legislation isn't as likely to twist in the wind for months a la health care, there will still be several differences between the two packages that need to be ironed out.

One regulatory reform expert, Doug Elliott of the Brookings Institution, points to two major potential flashpoints: consumer financial protection, and measures designed to give the federal government power to unwind failed financial institutions.

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Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), who recently lost a Republican primary for governor of Texas, is expected to announce today that she will serve out her full Senate term through 2012.

For the past year and more, Hutchison had challenged incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary. She had previously planned to resign her office during the primary campaign itself, but had reversed her decision in November, though she kept the door open to resigning after the March 2 primary. Had Hutchison resigned, the seat would have been filled with a temporary appointment by Perry, along with an expedited special election.

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