TPM News

Whether he's in Connecticut or Washington, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) won't be able to hide from his controversial position on the public option. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee will run the below ad in Lieberman's home state and the District of Columbia, starting tomorrow.

"Joe Lieberman promised Connecticut voters in 2006 that he would support core Democratic issues like health care reform," said PCCC co-founder Adam Green in a statement. "This tongue-in-cheek ad holds Lieberman accountable for putting his own ego ahead of the overwhelming will of Connecticut voters who demand a public health insurance option."

The initial buy is $40,000, to be supported by additional online fundraising.

Former President Bill Clinton is wading into the race to replace Sen. Ted Kennedy, backing Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley before Tuesday's Democratic primary.

The Coakley campaign said Clinton recorded a robocall for 500,000 primary voters asking them to choose the Democratic candidate and saying, "You can trust her to get results in the Senate."

"Martha Coakley will go to Washington to fight every day to create good jobs with good benefits and to get health reform with a strong public option," Clinton says on the call, which you can listen to here.

The jury is still out on whether President Obama has cinched 60 needed votes for health care legislation. But before there's any clarity liberal and conservative Democrats will have to reach accord on the public option--an issue Obama eschewed in his presentation to the caucus this afternoon. So where are things now?

With the blessing of leadership, and the help of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), liberal and conservative Democrats are continuing to meet to find a solution. "I called and personally asked five moderates and five progressives to work things out and the issues that they care a lot about: Public option, small business," Reid said at a press conference after a rare Sunday caucus meeting. "And they've had, I don't know how many meetings, but many."

"Progress is being made and that's not just talk. They've made a lot of progress."

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President Obama evoked Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the creation of Social Security today in a rare weekend meeting with the Democratic caucus, in a bid to keep his party united behind a historic health care reform bill currently being debated on the Senate floor. But liberal and conservative members, who are struggling to reach an agreement on the public option and other issues, didn't sound as if they were any closer to resolving their differences.

"He reminded us why we're here," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). But, he cautioned they're not quite there on the public option and abortion. "Close on both, not quite there," he said.

A number of senators suggested Obama's remarks provided the party and the legislation with much-needed momentum.

"I think it helped, more than significantly," said Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT).

"I can tell you, it would be very hard to have listened to the president's presentation and not have been persuaded of the historic importance of what's being discussed here," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND). "It was a powerful speech."

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New York Times columnist, three-time Pulitzer winner and bestselling author Thomas Friedman compared Afghanistan to "a special needs baby" on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS today.

This is nation building. This is nation building 101 in the most fragmented country in the world. Fareed, we're talking about Afghanistan. And we're talking about America in the middle of the great recession. I feel like we're like an unemployed couple who just went out and decided to adopt a special needs baby. You know, I mean, that's really kind of what we're doing. And that's like, whoa, y'know, that terrifies me.

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On Fox News Sunday this morning, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) warned that the Democrats' plan for health care reform would create "a health care gulag."

It will limit people's choices to, in many cases, to a government-run program like Medicaid which is essentially a health care gulag, because people will not have any choices but to take that poorly performing government plan.

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President Barack Obama will meet with Senate Democrats this afternoon, to build momentum as they enter the final stretch on far-reaching health care legislation. The rare visit to Capitol Hill comes as liberals and conservatives in his party clash over the contentious issues of abortion, and, especially, the public option.

Liberals, like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would like to see the President encourage moderates to support the health care bill in its current form. Conservative Democrats, meanwhile, are hostile to the public option and are threatening to filibuster the bill if it's not modified or removed. The two factions are currently discussing various compromises, including a variation on the "trigger" compromise, and a new initiative--distinct from a government insurance plan--which would give the federal government the power to negotiate private insurance premiums for some consumers.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is currently huddling with his leadership team, and White House officials, and the two sides of his caucus will meet late this afternoon, after the President's visit, to continue negotiations. The flurry of activity suggests real developments are afoot. We'll let you know what happens.

Gates: July 2011 Not An Afghanistan 'Exit Strategy,' But A 'Transition' Appearing on This Week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the plan for Afghanistan is not properly called an exit strategy. "Well, first of all, I don't consider this an exit strategy. And I try to avoid using that term. I think this is a transition," said Gates. He further explained: "Well, from my standpoint, the decision in terms of when a district or a cluster of districts or a province is ready to be turned over to the Afghan security forces is a judgment that will be made by our commanders on the ground, not here in Washington."

Feingold: Stopping Afghanistan Surge Will Be Difficult, 'We'll Do Whatever We Can' Appearing on This Week, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said he would do what he could to fight the Afghanistan troop surge. "And what's going to happen here is that it's probably going to be difficult to stop it now. We'll do whatever we can," said Feingold. "We're already working with members of both parties in both houses to question whether this funding should be approved. We're going to fight any attempts to use sort of accounting gimmicks to allow it to be funded. If there's an attempt to have an emergency supplemental, I think that's something we're going to oppose, not only on the grounds of it being an unwise policy, but also being fiscally irresponsible."

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