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Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) wasn't on hand in the Finance Committee hearing room to oppose against the public option in person. But below is her official statement with respect to the "no" vote she issued by proxy.

Arkansans have told me they support health care reform that forces insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and prevents them from dropping coverage when you become seriously ill. We can achieve these goals, stabilize the cost of coverage for Arkansans who have health insurance, and expand coverage to the uninsured and underinsured without creating a purely public, new government program, which most Arkansans do not support. I have promised my constituents that I will fight for health insurance reform that is deficit neutral, now and in the future, and that creates more choices for small businesses and their workers and the self-employed. These are important priorities that I believe we can achieve.


In addition, I am working to ensure that requiring Americans to purchase health insurance does not result in a personal windfall for health insurance company executives. My amendment would cut the tax shelter, from $1 million to $500,000, of what businesses are able to deduct for executive compensation. This is a fair policy change aimed at lowering insurance costs to consumers and reassuring them that insurance companies are not receiving excessive tax breaks while at the same time profiting from a government mandate.


Not very good news for reformers. The key questions down the line will be whether she's willing to filibuster a public option amendment or an entire health care reform bill on the grounds that it contains a public option.


During Barack Obama's Martha's Vineyard jaunt in August, the frustrations of a game of golf claim yet another victim.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




Jump shot! Obama also took to the court with White House staffers during his vacation.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




Bo hitches a ride on a helicopter flight to Martha's Vineyard.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




Obama and his niece, Savita, harvest the dandelions of Martha's Vineyard.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




Campers from NASCAR driver Kyle Petty's Victory Junction Gang meet the President on August 19. The camp is for terminally and chronically ill children; the kids visited the White House as part of a NASCAR special event.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




The President addressed the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Phoenix, AZ, on August 17.

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton




President Barack Obama and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak prepare for a working lunch on August 18.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones after lunch with Mubarak.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




Surprise! Economics gurus Austan Goolsbee and Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner share birthdays (August 18) and cupcakes.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




President Barack Obama and reigning NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson wait before a ceremony honoring Johnson.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




Brynja Hammer, daughter of Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, flashes her best birthday smile at the President. Brynja visited the Oval Office on her 8th birthday.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, just before the President nominated Bernanke for a second term.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




The Martha's Vineyard journey takes the President and his family up to the Gay Head lighthouse.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




A general store in Chilmark played host to the President and daughter Malia.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




Obama and niece Savita at Martha's Vineyard.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




The Black Congressional Caucus Foundation's annual awards dinner played host to the President and the First Lady on Saturday, September 26. This was the dinner in which the President relayed the story of a G20 leader asking why anti-health reform activists compare him to Hitler. "'We don't understand it,'" Obama quoted the anonymous G20 leader as saying. Watch the video here.

Newscom/Oliver Douliery/SIPA Photos




Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and the First Lady share the stage.

Newscom/Oliver Douliery/SIPA Photos




The extended First Family visited the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC on Sunday, September 27. From left to right: Suhaila Ng (Obama's niece), Maya Soetoro-Ng (Obama's sister), Konrad Ng (Obama's brother-in-law, holding his other daughter Savita), the President, Sasha Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, and Michelle's mother, Marian Robinson.

Newscom/Ron Sachs/CNP Photos




The First Lady and Bo on the South Lawn of the White House on September 26.

Newscom/Oliver Douliery/CNP Photos




Bo, the President and the First Lady depart Malia's soccer game on September 26.

Newscom/Oliver Douliery/UPI Photos

President Obama will meet with his national security team Wednesday afternoon to talk about the war in Afghanistan. Obama is working on a new strategy for the conflict there, which he says is essential to U.S. national security.

The White House released who will be in the meeting tomorrow:

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A new Rasmussen poll has some bad news for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who is up for re-election in 2010: She's trailing all four of her Republican challengers in a state that has been trending more to the GOP.

Republican state Sen. Kim Hendren leads Lincoln by 44%-41%. State Senate Minority Leader Gilbert Baker is ahead of her by 47%-39%. Businessman Curtis Coleman edges her out by 43%-41%. And finally, businessman Tom Cox leads her by 43%-40%.

In a further bad sign, Lincoln's favorable rating is only 45%, with 52% unfavorable. The Republican candidates are all hardly known, with undecided numbers of 34%-40% for their own personal ratings -- meaning this is basically Lincoln against generic Republicans. And for now at least, she's losing.

The campaign of Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) is now accusing its political opponents -- and he has many, considering he has to deal with not only Democrats but also a Republican primary challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison -- of sabotaging his Web site and causing it to break down!

The Austin-American Statesman reports that the Perry campaign was hosting a live video Webcast, which crashed. "This planned and coordinated attack was political sabotage, and we are working to identify those responsible for this illegal activity," said campaign spokesman Mark Miner.

The thing is, it appears quite possible that there might not have been any malicious attack at all. The Statesman's reporter notes: "I logged in about 10 minutes before the Webcast and was able to see it, but another Statesman staffer who attempted to log in after it started got an error message that said: 'Unable to connect to database server ... This could mean your hosting provider's database server is down.'"

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President Obama will visit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast for the first time since taking office to see rebuilding progress firsthand, the White House announced today. Four years have passed since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita first devastated the area.

The visit will take place in mid-October. Obama has also signed an executive order extending the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding for another six months, an office first created in response to Hurricane Katrina on November 1, 2005. According to NOLA.com, the office was set to expire tomorrow, September 30.

Read the full White House announcement after the jump.

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Kentucky Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, who is running in a two-way Democratic primary for Senate in 2010, appears to have been caught on tape saying some nasty things about Gov. Steve Beshear -- who has endorsed his campaign.

A YouTube was first posted online last week by KY Revolution, a site supporting underdog Republican candidate Rand Paul (a son of Ron Paul), containing what sounds like Mongiardo accusing Beshear of doing nothing to help his campaign:



"Who's doing a fundraiser this quarter? Steve Beshear is -- for Steve Beshear, one in Lexington, and one in Louisville," Mongiardo is heard saying. "He is trying to dry my money up. He (Beshear) is screwing me every way possible, and what do I get out of it? "We finally begged him to show up for one in Northern Kentucky. He is not going to lift a finger, he is not going to do a damn thing, he is just going to show up and his name is going to be on the invite."

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The reform campaign Health Care for America Now is out with the following statement in the wake of today's votes on the Senate Finance Committee against the public option:

Today, a vast majority - more than ¾ - of the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee joined with all of the Democrats on the Senate HELP Committee to support giving us the choice of a strong public health insurance option. Now four of the five committees that have tackled health care legislation have included a public health insurance option, and the Senate Finance Committee as a whole has proven it's out of step with the rest of Congress, the President, and a large majority of the American public. As Senators Schumer and Rockefeller said, the public health insurance option is clearly gaining momentum, and we are confident it will be in the final bill that lands on the President's desk.

The Democratic Senators who spoke out in support of the public health insurance option today made it very clear they understand we cannot leave Americans out in the cold without real choice and competition and at the mercy of the private health insurance companies which will only continue to put their corporate profits before people's health care needs.

Echoing Sen. Jay Rockefeller's (D-WV) insistence this afternoon that the public option is not dead, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) declared on MSNBC's Hardball that the 13-10 vote rejecting his public option amendment to a Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill is a kinda-sorta victory.

"This was really good news for us," he said. "We're clearly not there, but not a single Democrat has said, 'I'm absolutely against the public option.' Chairman Baucus said he likes it but wants to see if it can get 60 votes, and we're feeling that we might get there."

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