TPM News

Earlier this week, we reported that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina had recently sent out mailers that urged recipients to lobby Sen. Kay Hagan to oppose a public option, which it called "a slippery slope to single payer." (You can see the mailer here.)

The story was picked up by the Raleigh News & Observer, which added an additional key fact: Just before sending out the mailer, BCBS of North Carolina had informed its customers that their rates would rise by an average of 11 percent next year.

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A new Frank Luntz strategy memo may provide some insight into the Republican's playbook as the fight over reform enters its final stages.

The memo, which you can read here, is one of many similar memos that have been circulated to politicians and activists over the last several months, including by Luntz himself.

In his previous memo, Luntz warned conservatives not to tie health care reform efforts to President Obama--the President's name, he warned, helped buoy the overall level of support for reform. Luntz now says that's not true--but he nonetheless counsels reform opponents not to use the term 'Obamacare.'

"[y]ou can talk about opposing "President Obama's Plan," Luntz writes. "But don't. While you no-longer [sic] shoot yourself in the foot by criticizing the President, you would do much better to criticize Congress."

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We asked Jim Manley, the spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whether Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) position in the Democratic caucus was still secure, in light of his declaration that he will probably campaign for some Republican candidates in the 2010 election -- or as Lieberman said, "I'm going to call them as I see them."

Manley told us: "Senator Lieberman may call them as he see's them, but for Senator Reid, the only thing that he is focused on right now is delivering on the president's promise of comprehensive health care reform."

Did a federal prosecutor just make the inflammatory accusation that top government scientist Stewart Nozette has admitted to giving classified information to the Israeli government?

By our reading of this AP story, that's exactly what happened at a hearing in U.S. district court in Washington yesterday.

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Liz Cheney called out President Obama for his early-morning trip to honor fallen soldiers arriving at Dover Air Force Base yesterday, suggesting President Bush honored America's heroes with a bit more class than his successor.

Cheney, on Fox News Radio's John Gibson Show yesterday:

"I think that what President Bush used to do is do it without the cameras. And I don't understand sort of showing up with the White House Press Pool with photographers and asking family members if you can take pictures. That's really hard for me to get my head around...It was a surprising way for the president to choose to do this."

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The trend continues: a new Research 2000 poll, commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, finds that a Democrat from a red state may not be doing herself any favors by standing in the way of a public option.

The poll asked Arkansans "Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan -- something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get -- that would compete with private health insurance plans?"

The findings are in line with other statewide and national polls that find the public option to be broadly popular. 56 favor, 37 oppose.

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Mary Beth Buchanan, the Bush-appointed federal prosecutor who had a cameo in the U.S. attorney firings scandal and was charged with pursuing politically motivated prosecutions, is stepping down.

Buchanan, a Republican, is said to be mulling a run for Congress against incumbent Democrat Rep. Jason Altmire. In a statement yesterday, she said she was "looking forward to the next chapter of my professional career," without elaborating.

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More Republican endorsements are piling up for Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in NY-23, instead of the moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava, with the most prominent being former three-term Gov. George Pataki.

In his endorsement, Pataki declares that electing Scozzafava would give "another vote to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. This run to the right is especially interesting, considering that Pataki himself used to have a reputation as a moderate, socially liberal Republican.

Hoffman has also been endorsed by an additional 11 House Republicans: Todd Akin (MO), Paul Broun (GA), Mary Fallin (OK), Jeff Flake (AZ), John Fleming (LA), Trent Franks (AZ), Steve King (IA), Tom McClintock (CA), Jerry Moran (KS) John Shadegg (AZ) and Mark Souder (IN). From that list, Moran is currently running for Senate, and his opponent in the primary, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, endorsed Hoffman a week ago.

Last year, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) broke with his former colleagues in the Democratic party to stump for Republican candidates all across the country, including John McCain. Yesterday, Lieberman said he's planning a repeat performance on the congressional campaign trail in 2010.

Lieberman, from an interview with ABC News:

"I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the election in 2010. I'm going to call them as I see them."

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Vice President Joe Biden at noon will be announcing a new report showing the $787 billion economic stimulus plan so far has "created or saved" at least 1 million jobs.

He will be joined by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

Administration officials tell TPMDC the new report will credit the Recovery Act with directly creating or saving about 650,000 jobs from its February start through Sept. 30.

The new report, to be posted in full here today, will detail about half the spending so far. The figures "confirm government and private forecaster's estimates that overall Recovery Act spending has created and saved at least 1 million jobs," officials said. Obama aides tout this as history making since it will offer for the first time ever "more information about the Recovery Act at work than with any previous government program."

These reports are focused on education funding, highway repairs and construction projects reported by officials in state governments.

They say the data will show for each project who received the funds, when they received them, how they began to spend them and the jobs they have supported so far. It will be searchable by state, ZIP cod or Congressional district.

The administration says "analysis by both the Council of Economic Advisers and a wide range of private and public-sector forecasters indicates the Recovery Act contributed between 3 and 4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the third quarter, suggesting that in the absence of the Recovery Act, real GDP would have risen little, if at all, this past quarter."