TPM News

In a speech to the Center for American Progress today, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer will make the economic case for health care reform.

"Some view health insurance reform as something we should do before or after tackling the deficit. My plea today is to view it as the most significant act we could take to tackle the deficit," Romer says in her prepared remarks.

She also says a public option "would serve as a competitive, alternative choice, constraining the ability of insurers to raise premiums, and thus containing the growth rate of costs."

More excerpts, released by the White House, after the jump.

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A former Fox News contributor, appearing on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, said she left the organization partly because Glenn Beck's "scary" and "over the top" language made her uncomfortable.

"The reason I left, in part, is because I think they have less debate than they used to," said Jane Hall, a professor at American University and a former journalist who covered the media.

"I'm also frankly uncomfortable with Beck, who I think should be called out as somebody whose language is way over the top and scary," she added.

Video after the jump.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will send a health care legislation to CBO today, and details of his proposal will be unveiled shortly thereafter, TPMDC has learned. A highly placed source suggests that Reid's preference remains to include a public option with an opt out clause, despite the fact that the White House is skeptical that this is the most politically viable strategy.

As TPMDC has reported, the move would make it much less likely that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will ultimately support the bill, and the White House conveyed skepticism to Reid last week that he was making the right call.

However, a senior White House official tells TNR's Jonathan Cohn that the White House will ultimately back whatever Reid decides to do. Sounds like we'll know for sure pretty soon.

Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA), who is running for Senate in 2010 against Republican Sen. David Vitter, is now stepping up his attacks on Vitter -- declaring that "we can only guess" why Vitter voted against a Senate amendment to crack down on rape.

In a new campaign e-mail, Melancon slams Vitter for voting against the Franken Amendment, which would cut off money for military contractors that force employees into arbitration, rather than a court of law, if they are raped:

If a company wants to receive taxpayer dollars, they should not be able to force victims to give up their constitutional rights as a condition of employment.

David Vitter has refused to explain why he voted to allow taxpayer-funded companies to sweep rape charges under the rug. We can only guess what his reasons were.

Tell David Vitter that sexual assault victims deserve their day in court.

(Emphasis in the original.)

Check out the full e-mail, after the jump.

Late Update: NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh sends us this comment: "If Charlie Melancon is truly 'shocked' that David Vitter would vote against this amendment, one can only imagine his thoughts on President Obama and Obama's Department of Defense having the exact same position on this amendment as the Republicans - which they do. Considering Charlie Melancon's strong endorsement of Obama in last year's election, it's fair to ask how Melancon squares this cheap partisan attack today with the Obama Administration's own position on the Franken amendment? Is Charlie Melancon seriously suggesting that President Obama does not care about victims of sexual assault because that would be news indeed. We look forward to his response."

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A new Suffolk University poll gives Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) a nine-point lead over Republican Chris Christie -- his largest lead in any survey during this whole race.

The numbers: Corzine 42%, Christie 33%, independent Chris Daggett 7%. In this poll, all 12 candidates on the ballot were listed, in addition to the main three, with other independents also garnering a total of 3% support, and 14% undecided. There is no prior Suffolk poll for direct comparison. The margin of error is ±5%.

The pollster's analysis shows that this race has become all about the unpopularity of all the candidates, but that Corzine is now coming out the best: "Thirty-five percent of likely voters said that they would be extremely or very comfortable with Corzine, compared to 20 percent for Christie and 9 percent for Daggett. All candidates struggled with personal popularity, with Corzine viewed favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 46 percent. Christie polled 34 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable, while Daggett scored a 20 percent favorable and 25 percent unfavorable. All three candidates had higher negatives than positives."

The White House wants everyone to know President Obama "completely supports" the Senate leadership as a final bill emerges this week.

In response to TPMDC and other outlets reporting that the White House is pushing back against efforts to include a public option in the merged bill, the White House press shop issued a rare late-night blog post from Dan Pfeiffer.

But Obama himself is unlikely to chime in for several days. He's meeting with his national security team about whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, then heading to Florida for a meeting with troops.

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The DCCC is taking notice of Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the three-way special election in NY-23, with a new ad attacking him an out of touch millionaire.

"Millionaire Doug Hoffman has a waterfront island home -- even a classic car collection," the announcer says. "But on our street, it's lost jobs, foreclosures and record debt. Hoffman supports more of the economic policies that failed us: Tax breaks for the wealthy, which added billions to the deficit. Doug Hoffman: Looking out for himself, not us."

Democrat Bill Owens currently has a narrow lead in this race, with moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava and Hoffman splitting the Republican vote. The question is what effect a Democratic attack on Hoffman will have: Will it turn voters off of him, or will it cause conservative voters to rally to his side even more than they have already?

Late Update: Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan gives us this comment: "Growing up, Doug Hoffman was the poorest kid in his class. Through hard work, he earned every cent he has. The Democrats should stop waging class warfare. If Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress have their way, we will all be poor from their high-taxing and big-spending ways."

Creigh Deeds (D) may have President Obama by his side this week (well, kind of), but Bob McDonnell (R) has a big name of his own coming to Virginia in the final days of the gubernatorial contest. Mitt Romney is heading to the state for a day of joint appearances with McDonnell on on Wednesday, the day after Obama stops over in the state for a single appearance with Deeds.

Romney will stump for McDonnell in Virginia Beach, Richmond and Roanoke, meeting the press at each stop. The tour continues the list of GOP heavy hitters who have campaigned for McDonnell in Virginia so far this year, including John McCain, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee.