TPM News

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) -- the man best known for saying that the Republican health care plan is for Americans who get to "die quickly," and for calling former Vice President Dick Cheney a vampire with blood dripping from his teeth -- may have gone a bit too far in one of his latest rhetorical excesses, calling lobbyist Linda Robertson, who used to advise Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a "K Street whore."

The comments were made a month ago, when Grayson appeared on the radio show of right-wing talker Alex Jones, and was just discovered and circulated by the NRCC. "Here I am, the only Member of Congress who actually worked as an economist. And she's, this lobbyist, this K Street whore, is trying to teach me about economics," said Grayson.

Grayson spokesman Todd Jurkowski stood by the Congressman's comments, telling the Orlando Sentinel in an e-mail: "She attacked the Congressman and his efforts to promote a Republican bill to audit the Federal Reserve. She actually questioned his understanding of the difference between fiscal and monetary policy. This is [a] person who used to be the chief lobbyist for Enron attacking the intelligence and motives of a Congressman who used to be an economist."

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With a clearer picture on health care, the Obama administration and Congress today are pivoting toward climate change legislation.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began hearings this hour on Chairman Barbara Boxer's bill, with President Obama's Green Cabinet expected to testify.

Obama, meanwhile, is at a Florida solar power plant this morning announcing stimulus funds for a major investment in smart grid technology. An Obama aide tells TPMDC the president will talk about building the infrastructure for a clean energy economy.

Vice President Biden will be making an announcement at a General Motors plant in Delaware that is reopening to make hybrid vehicles.

With just over a month before climate change negotiations begin in Copenhagen, environmental advocacy groups have been pressuring the White House and Congress to take action so world leaders have a framework to build upon.

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The new Rasmussen poll of the New Jersey gubernatorial race finds Republican Chris Christie with some possible momentum against Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and independent Chris Daggett in the home stretch of the campaign.

As was done last week, respondents were initially asked for first preferences between Democrat Jon Corzine, Republican Christ Christie, and independent Chris Daggett. Those who answered Daggett were then given a follow-up question of whether they were sure -- an attempt to measure the usual drop-off that third-party candidates have -- and their possible new votes were then distributed, along with undecided voters who were pushed into supporting a candidate.

The initial preferences were Christie 42%, Corzine 38%, and Daggett 14%. After Daggett-supporters and undecideds were pushed, it became Christie 46%, Corzine 43%, and Daggett 7%. Last week, Corzine had led by 37%-36%-16% on first preferences, and Christie was up by 41%-39%-11% after people were pushed. The margin of error is ±3%.

AHIP, the lobbying arm of the nation's health insurance companies, took a hard line against the public option after Senate Maj. Leader Harry Reid said last night one would be included in a final health care reform bill.

"A new government-run plan would underpay doctors and hospitals rather than driving real reforms that bring down costs and improve quality," the group said in statement posted to the AHIP website. "The American people want health care reform that will reduce costs and this plan doesn't do that."

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Poll: Big Majority Of Americans Support Cap-And-Trade A new CNN poll finds 60% of Americans supporting a cap-and-trade proposal to control carbon emissions, with only 37% against it. The pollster's analysis says that independents are environmentally conscious, but Democrats would still have to work to mobilize those concerns: "Independents may not be red or blue, but they appear to be green. Earlier polls indicate that Independents believe in global warming and believe that the government can take steps to curtail the problem. But the environment is not a big priority for Independents, as it is with Democrats."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will depart from Miami at 10 a.m. ET, arriving at 10:50 a.m. ET in Sarasota. At 12:10 p.m. ET, he will tour the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida, and will deliver remarks at 12:25 p.m. ET. He will depart from Sarasota at 2:05 p.m. ET, arriving at 3:50 p.m. ET in Norfolk, Virginia. He will deliver remarks at a 4:55 p.m. ET rally for Creigh Deeds. He will depart from Norfolk at 6:05 p.m. ET, arriving back at the White House at 7:05 p.m. ET.

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A new poll of the NY-23 special election, conducted by the conservative Neighborhood Research and commissioned by the Minuteman PAC -- which is supporting Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman -- finds Hoffman in first place, and the moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava in third.

The numbers: Hoffman 34.1%, Democrat Bill Owens 29.2%, and Scozzafava 13.9%, with a ±4.8% margin of error. Among definite voters, it's Hoffman 37.5%, Owens 28.4%, and Scozzafava 13.5%, with a ±5.6% margin of error.

Neighborhood Research head Rick Shaftan told TPM: "She's [Scozzafava] going to end up in single digits and Hoffman is going to top 50%."

This runs contrary to independent polls, which have put Owens in first, Scozzafava second, and Hoffman third, while it's consistent with a poll from the Club For Growth (which also supports Hoffman). Then again, special elections are notoriously difficult to poll, due to low turnout, so there's really no telling what's going to happen on election day next week.

After Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's big public option opt-out reveal yesterday, the major players are looking pretty unified.

Check out all the reactions we posted at TPMLiveWire yesterday and see what they have in common, as Senate leadership, progressives and advocacy groups appear to be rallying behind the new strategy.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) was singing a different tune, reminding everyone in a statement that "I included a public option in the health reform blueprint I released nearly one year ago."

MoveOn, which was asking members to pressure Obama last week, is now shifting gears to make sure the Democratic Party gets in line and votes to block a filibuster.

Health Care for America Now was championing Reid for "standing up" and doing the right thing, collecting more than 20,000 signatures on a thank-you petition to the leader.

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The newest ad from Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the NY-23 special election, stars none other than former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), a presidential candidate from the 2007/2008 Republican primaries.

"Big government, high taxes, deficits, broken promises -- America is in trouble," Thompson says. "So when your grandchildren ask you why you didn't do something, be able to tell them that you voted for Doug Hoffman."

Thompson had previously endorsed Hoffman, joining a long list of conservative Republicans rebelling against the party for picking a socially-liberal and union-friendly candidate, Republican state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava. But actually starring in a TV ad is taking the right-wing uprising to a whole new level.

So how did we go from a White House at loggerheads with the Senate leadership last Thursday night over a public option, to a deal today that's exactly what the leadership wanted?

This evening I spoke with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who was in that infamous Thursday night meeting with President Obama and other Senate leaders--and who has been one of the most persistent advocates of a public option on Capitol Hill. As Schumer explains it, the disagreement between the White House and Senate wasn't substantive so much as it was tactical: The White House had its doubts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could really get 60 votes for a public option with an opt out for states.

"The President listened very carefully," Schumer said in an interview moments ago. "He wanted to make sure that the strategy upon which we were embarking had the ability to carry through."

Schumer has been at the center of the fight over the public option from the earliest days of the health care debate--always there to pull it back from the brink when it at times seemed on the verge of collapse. This situation was no different. After the Thursday meeting, four sources in different Democratic offices told me that the White House had suggested they believed a strategy of pursuing Sen. Olympia Snowe's preferred compromise--a triggered public option--might be an easier path to 60 votes. In the end, though, Schumer and the rest of leadership seem to have prevailed upon President Obama that they've picked the right strategy.

"I think substantively the White House probably preferred a stronger public option than a trigger," Schumer said. "We talked about this for a while in leadership and the White House wanted to hear our thoughts--and when they heard them they thought that this was the right strategy to get our caucus together."

Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President stands behind Reid as he builds support for the public plan.

"A lot of people around here have faith in Harry Reid's abilty to count votes," Schumer told me.

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Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) briefed reporters this afternoon on the House GOP's plans for health care this week. The party will focus on reform's effects on senior citizens, specifically through changes to Medicare. Democratic proposals include several changes to the way Medicare is funded that have long had support from the AARP, far and away the most powerful lobbying group for seniors. But Pence and Reichert suggested that support was the result of corruption inside the AARP and not based on the interests of its membership.

"What you've got here is a backroom deal," Pence said of reform measures expected to be introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this afternoon. "Democrats are protecting the salaries of the heads of groups like AARP while cutting medicare."

For its part, AARP dismisses the allegations, pointing out that it has seen this movie before.

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