TPM News

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who is challenging the party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, is taking a bold step to cast himself as anti-establishment politician -- putting up a new Web video directly attacking President Obama, for supporting the incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat Specter.

The video is set to a repeating acoustic guitar riff, which sounds similar in feel to the "Yes We Can" music video produced during the 2008 campaign by from the Black Eyed Peas. (Though it doesn't sound exactly the same.) A black and white montage of Obama supporters -- again, similar to the "Yes We Can" video -- express their profound disappointment at Obama's support of Specter.

"I believed in you," says one supporter, followed by another: "Mr. President, I don't understand why you support Arlen Specter."

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this afternoon announced which Senate Democrats will attend the bipartisan health care summit at the White House this Thursday.

Reid will attend, joined by Sens. Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Patty Murray, Max Baucus, Chris Dodd, Tom Harkin, Jay Rockefeller and Kent Conrad.

The White House invited Democratic and Republican leadership in both houses, and allowed the leaders to invite a handful of colleagues.

Reid also praised President Obama's health care proposal, released today.

"The President's health reform proposal brings together the best of the Senate bill and the best of the House bill in a fiscally responsible way," he said in a statement.

Reconciliation was okay under President George W. Bush, but people will take to the streets if Democrats try it for health care reform, Rep. Steve King told TPMDC.

I interviewed King (R-IA) at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, and he specifically railed against the potential Democrats would use reconciliation which needs just 50 votes and the vice president as a tie breaker.

He offered a tough ultimatum in the form of a double-dog-dare and warned of consequences during the midterm elections.

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today that it's up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid whether to try to pass a public option via reconciliation.

Gibbs was asked for comment on the letter urging Reid to pass a public option with 50 votes. The letter has been signed by 20 senators so far.

"I think they've asked for a vote on the floor of the Senate, and that's up to those who manage the amendments, and to Leader Reid," Gibbs said.

A Senate leadership aide told TPMDC last week that such a measure can't pass without explicit support from the president.

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State Del. Bob Marshall (R-VA) declared last week that an increased number of disabled children are a punishment from nature, taking "vengeance" for prior abortions by their mothers.

"The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children," Marshall said at a press conference on Thursday, calling for an end to state funding of Planned Parenthood, the Capital News Service reports.

"In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord," Marshall added. "There's a special punishment Christians would suggest."

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Democrats will hold a high-stakes test vote on a jobs bill this afternoon, and will need at least two Republicans to break from their party if they hope to debate (and ultimately pass) an initial package of legislation. Can they do it? Time will tell, but as of this morning, leadership aides had little read on what would happen.

According to one aide, the vote--on the motion to proceed to debate the bill--is, "very up in the air."

The hope, Democrats say, is that most of the provisions in the package have historically enjoyed GOP support. As they point out on their twitter feed, for instance, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) co-sponsored the original Build-America Bonds Act of 2009--legislation that would be renewed by the jobs bill.

Likewise last year's extension of the highway trust fund passed the Senate with 79 votes. This jobs bill would extend it for another year.

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For the first time, the CNN/Time poll shows more Americans don't think homosexuality is morally repugnant than do. For more than 30 years, since 1978, a majority of respondents to the poll have said "homosexual relationships between consenting adults is morally wrong," while a minority have said homosexuality "not a moral issue."

That is, until this Presidents Day Weekend, when 50% of respondents said homosexuality is not a moral issue, while 48% said that it was morally wrong. Two percent said they had no opinion.

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The new White House health care bill doesn't change the more lenient Senate-passed abortion provisions, and now the pro-life group known as Susan B. Anthony's List is saying that it will pressure pro-life lawmakers to oppose the compromise.

More than 30 pro-life organizations have called for the final plan to include language written by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), and signed a letter to President Obama and Republican Congressional leadership asking that "protection of life" be the top priority at the health care summit.

The Stupak plan would prevent people getting federal assistance to purchase plans on the newly created insurance exchanges if they cover abortions. The Nelson plan allows people to buy whatever policies they want, but if a policy covers abortions, the person purchasing it would need to write a separate check for the portion of the plan that provides for abortion.

Obama has said more than once the health care legislation is not an abortion bill, and Democrats insist it does not include direct federal funding for abortions.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement today calling President Obama's health care proposal a "partisan, back-room bill:"

It's disappointing that Democrats in Washington either aren't listening, or are completely ignoring what Americans across the country have been saying. Our constituents don't want yet another partisan, back-room bill that slashes Medicare for our seniors, raises a half-trillion dollars in new taxes, fines them if they don't buy the right insurance and further expands the role of government in their personal decisions.

Republicans will continue to offer the kind of step-by-step reforms to lower costs that our constituents have been asking for in the hundreds of town halls and constituent meetings we have had across the country. But the longer Washington sticks with its failed approach to health care, the longer Americans have to wait for the real, step-by-step reforms that will actually lower costs and lead to a better system. That's what Americans have wanted all along.