TPM News

The first real test of health care reform won't take place before the Supreme Court, as some Republicans have promised. Instead, it will happen in the heartland, when Missouri voters take a stand on their Republican-written ballot measure dubbed the "Health Care Freedom Act."

The actual question from the Aug. 3 Proposition C measure centers around the individual insurance mandate included in the sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system. If it passes, it would amend state statutes to deny the federal government the authority to penalize people for not buying health insurance. Boosters are campaigning on the fact that it's the "first time" voters will get a chance to weigh in on health care reform passed this spring.

Repealing health care has become a central issue in the 2010 campaigns, and one we've followed closely at TPM. If this measure passes in the über-battleground state, critics with similar state ballot initiatives may feel emboldened this fall. Among those states with similar ballot initiatives are Arizona, Florida and Indiana -- all of which also have high-profile Senate races.

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Andrew Breitbart, who posted the clip of USDA official Shirley Sherrod that got her fired, said today that he feels sorry for Sherrod.

"I feel bad that they made this about her, and I feel sorry that they made this about her," he told MSNBC. "Watching how they've misconstrued, how the media has misconstrued the intention behind this, I do feel a sympathy for her plight."

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After several pen strokes, and plenty of pomp, the Wall Street reform bill became law this afternoon. At signing ceremony at DC's Ronald Reagan building, President Obama declared "These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history," adding that "unless your business relies on cutting corners or bilking customers, you have nothing to fear from reform."

Now the legislation must be implemented, which will be no small task. Some of the bills provisions are subject to years-long study by regulators before they become binding. Others are intentionally delayed for a variety of reasons. And still more simply take months to build up the capacity to enforce. At the White House yesterday, Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin told reporters he expects the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be running autonomously within a year.

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So who's the real influencer-in-chief?

A Quinnipiac poll released today suggests that the endorsements of Sarah Palin have more clout with voters than those of President Obama -- although vulnerable politicians would do well to stay away from both of them. According to the poll, a slim 12% of voters say that Obama's endorsement of a candidate would make them more likely to vote for that candidate. A slightly more sizable 16% of voters say the same of Palin's endorsement.

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The conventional wisdom may well be that the Republicans are poised to make some big gains against the Democrats in the House and Senate this fall. But for now, the Dems' campaign arms remain way ahead in cash on hand that could potentially make a difference in tight races.

The National Republican Congressional Committee just narrowly out-raised the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in June, taking in $9.15 million against the DCCC's $9.02 million. However, the DCCC has a whopping $33.78 million cash on hand, almost double the $17.04 million for the NRCC.

On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee took in $7.1 million in June, more than the $4.03 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in June. The DSCC has $21 million on hand, slightly surpassing the $19.7 million on hand for the NRSC.

Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, is now being attacked in a new third-party ad over his recent advocacy of a policy known as a "tip credit" that would keep waiters' wages low -- a flap that was best exemplified by his public complaint that some of them were supposedly making over $100,000 per year.

"Why is Tom Emmer so worried that the lowest paid workers are making too much?" says one woman in the new ad from the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, a liberal organization affiliated with labor and environmental groups. Another woman also adds: "I do not think Tom Emmer personally cares about working Minnesotans."

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Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who would have probably been the strongest potential Republican candidate in this fall's special Senate election for the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd's old seat, has decided not to run.

The news was first reported by the Washington Post, and was also confirmed to TPMDC by a Republican source.

Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin officially jumped into the race yesterday. A Rasmussen poll from a week and a half ago gave Manchin an initial lead of 53%-39% over Capito, making him the early favorite in the race despite the state's recent trends toward the national GOP. It's also interesting to note that Capito would not have had to give up her House seat to run -- the law that the state just passed in order to hold this election would have allowed current candidates for other offices such as herself to run for both simultaneously, as a concession in order to gain GOP support.