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In the latest development of Democratic House members' town hall meetings being disrupted by the Tea Party crowd, House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) office is now applauding this turn of events.

"Back home for the August recess, rank-and-file Democratic Members of the House are facing a backlash from their constituents, who are already fed up with Washington's job-killing agenda and don't support Democrats' government takeover of health care," says a press release posted on Boehner's official blog.

The release then recounts the nasty reception that Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) has gotten, and declares that "Rep. Doggett is not alone."

The posting concludes: "Unless Democratic leaders agree to work with Republicans on a bipartisan plan that achieves real reform that Americans are seeking, it will be a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

Rep. Peter King made an interesting declaration today on MSNBC -- that health care is "not a major issue," and that people are not concerned about it as a top issue:



Democrats were quick to pounce. "This latest display of Peter King's erratic behavior proves that he is out of touch with his constituents and the American people," said Shripal Shah, Northeast Regional Press Secretary for the DCCC. "Everyone but Peter King seems to recognize the need to bring down the cost of health insurance. It's time for him to get his head out of the sand and live up to his responsibilities to his constituents by working for health insurance reform that will lower costs and increase access to care."

So is King right, or the DCCC? As it turns out, it's all a matter of what poll you cite -- and what exactly they were asking. The bottom line is that health very much is an important issue -- but because the economy is so rotten right now, people will more likely list that as the most important issue.

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MSNBC says it will now tell viewers that Richard Wolffe -- who is a regular commentator on the network, and last week guest-hosted Countdown -- works for a corporate P.R. firm.

Network spokesman Jeremy Gaines told TPMmuckraker in an email:

We should have disclosed Richard's connection to Public Strategies. We will do so in the future.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was of course President Obama's Republican rival in the 2008 general election, has announced that he will vote against Sonia Sotomayor, Obama's first nominee to the Supreme Court.

In his floor statement, McCain harshly criticized Sotomayor as an activist judge who does not respect the legislative branch, the written law, or the will of the people -- and who is now trying to hide from that record:

I know of no more profoundly anti-democratic attitude than that expressed by those who want judges to discover and enforce the ever-changing boundaries of a so-called 'living Constitution.' It demonstrates a lack of respect for the popular will that is at fundamental odds with our republican system of government. And regardless of one's success in academics and government service, an individual who does not appreciate the common sense limitations on judicial power in our democratic system of government ultimately lacks a key qualification for a lifetime appointment to the bench.

Though she attempted to walk back from her long public record of judicial activism during her confirmation hearings, Judge Sotomayor cannot change her record.

If you've been paying attention to the political fight over health care reform, you've likely heard something or other about the importance of the August recess. Politicians will be making the case for or against reform. Activists will be supporting and opposing them. Interest groups will be muddying the waters in various ways and turning up the heat on members they hope to influence. It can be so confusing!

So here's what you need to know. Below, I've broken down August activities and events by venue. Key politicians, and outside groups, will take to districts and states, newspapers and airwaves, and backroom meetings to influence reform over while Congress is in recess. And you'll probably have to crawl in a hole for the rest of summer if you want to escape the coming flurry of activity.

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Breaking his silence today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters that Democrats won't hesitate to pass reform legislation as part of October's filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill--if, that is, Max Baucus and Senate Finance Committee negotiators don't come to agreement on a bipartisan package before their new September 15 deadline. Schumer said he wants a bipartisan agreement, but if that proves impossible, "it is not going to stop us from moving forward with health care."

"[W]e will have contingencies in place," Schumer said "Health reform is just too important to let this window pass by."

Schumer's been the public face for the idea of creating a public option on a level playing field with private insurers. But he's also the chairman of the Rules Committee, and in that regard his affirmation of the reconciliation process should carry a great deal of weight.

Still, he says, he'd prefer a bipartisan solution. And on the question of those negotiations, Schumer says that despite the fact that the Senate Finance Committee is likely to endorse a co-op system instead of a public option, he's confident that the final bill will contain the latter.

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Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has announced that he will vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the Lincoln Journal Star reports -- bringing her one of the last conservative Dem holdouts who hadn't yet stated a position.

"The record shows she is not an activist," said Nelson, adding that Sotomayor has "a great respect for the law."

This means that not only is Sotomayor on track for an easy confirmation, but that the National Rifle Association's last-ditch effort to demand that Senators vote against her has fallen flat. Pro-gun Democrats from across the country are voting for her, anyway. Nelson had previously indicated that the NRA's grading would not be a factor: "I'd probably have a good rating regardless."

President Obama will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for health care reform, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today. Questions arose about raising taxes after two administration officials seemed to leave such a possibility open during Sunday show interviews.

"The president has made a clear commitment to not raise taxes on middle class families," Gibbs said at his daily press briefing. When pressed, he said, "I don't know how much clearer about his commitment I can be."

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers didn't rule out a tax hike during the interviews.

"We have to bring these deficits down very dramatically," Geithner said on ABC's This Week. "We're not at the point yet where we're going to make a judgment about what it's going to take."

"Oh, there's a lot that can happen over time," Summers said on CBS's Face the Nation. "It's never a good idea to absolutely rule things out no matter what."

The Associated Press described the remarks thusly: "Two of President Barack Obama's economic heavyweights said middle-class taxes might have to go up to pare budget deficits or to pay for the proposed overhaul of the nation's health care system."

The possibility of rising taxes for the middle class has become the health care meme of the day.

It's been pretty clear for a while that Democrats will be running against George W. Bush's legacy for years and years to come, and this year's gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia have been no exception. Whether this will work remains to be seen. But for now, how are Republican responding?

Check out this item from the Washington Post, reporting on the use of the Bush attack by Democrats in Virginia:

"I'm sure what happens is they sit around the table and poll George Bush and find that he's still unpopular," said Phil Musser, former executive director of the Republican Governors Association and a political strategist. "Shocking! But it's a tired argument that reflects an old playbook. Didn't America just vote to change the negative politics of the past?"


He's right. The people voted in 2008 for change, to get rid of the negative politics of the past -- which means not saying bad things about George W. Bush!



As Rachel Slajda reported earlier this afternoon, there seems to be a growing incidence of members of Congress being shouted down at town hall events by tea party protestors. Those tactics will likely become much more common. As Think Progress first reported, one tea-party friendly group has disseminated a strategy memo for other anti-reform and anti-government groups, outlining what they consider best-practices for protesters who plan to enter and disrupt town hall events hosted by members of Congress over the August recess--practices that, according to the memo, "could be useful to activists in just about any district where their Congressperson has supported the socialist agenda of the Democrat leadership in Washington."

The memo, authored by Robert MacGuffie, who runs the website rightprinciples.com, suggests that tea partiers should "pack the hall... spread out" to make their numbers seem more significant, and to "rock-the-boat early in the Rep's presentation...to yell out and challenge the Rep's statements early.... to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda...stand up and shout and sit right back down."

MacGuffie is a volunteer for FreedomWorks, the industry funded group that helps organize and support the tea party protests. But he denies that his small group has any direct affiliation with FreedomWorks. "We are recommending with that memo that other grassroots groups that share our view should go to the townhalls of their members and use the strategy that we did," MacGuffie told me, confirming the memo's authenticity. "We are trying to get into that town halls to make them understand that they do not have the unanimous support from people in their communities."

If these tactics catch on, and August recess health care events are characterized by organized agit-prop, it could have a dramatic impact on the tenor of the health care debate, and the media coverage of the events this month. Buckle your seatbelts.

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