TPM News

It looks like the oil lobby's bamboozlement habit is so ingrained that it extends even to cosmetic touches.

The website Astrotruth.org notes that an American Petroleum Institute pamphlet given out at a forum last week appears to show oil and gas industry employees as a racially diverse group of people.

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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) tells Politico that he's not totally on board with a proposal to expand Medicare.

"I am increasingly troubled about the proposal," Lieberman said. "I am worried about what impact it will have on the Medicare program's fiscal viability and also what effect it will have on the premiums paid by people benefiting from Medicare now and whether the whole thing is viable. If you separate it from Medicare, it will be an extremely expensive program."

Lieberman had remained neutral on the buy-in proposal since it was brought up Tuesday night, saying he would wait to make a decision until he saw legislative language and a score from the Congressional Budget Office.

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The Family Research Council is doing a robo-call on health care reform suggesting the bill includes taxpayer funded abortions but also asking about malaria. TPM readers have flagged a handful of calls coming in the last few days.

Reader WK of Northern Virginia said the call was an ABBC survey sponsored by the Family Research Council and reader PC in South Dakota said it was from UMBI.

FRC spokesman JP Duffy told TPMDC the calls are part of a "very expensive campaign."

He said they are going into every home in Arkansas, Louisiana and South Dakota, and to pro-life households in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

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Republicans in the Missouri state legislature are trying to opt the Show Me State out of any health care changes passed by the U.S. Congress.

The St. Louis Beacon reported about State Sen. Jane Cunningham's effort to secure enough votes to put an opt-out proposal on the 2010 ballot.

"We want to shield Missouri from unconstitutional mandates,'' Cunningham said.

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The retirement of Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), the third Democrat to do so in the last three weeks, has opened up a new swing sweat for Democrats to defend. So what's the outlook for the seat -- and for the party environment itself?

"It's a tough district," a Democratic source in Washington state told us, also adding: "It's a rural district and a suburban district. It's a swing district, but it's been trending Democratic."

Baird's district voted twice for George W. Bush by narrow margins -- 48%-46% in 2000, and 50%-48% in 2004 -- before switching to Barack Obama in 2008 by a 53%-45% margin.

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Since the details of a looming public option compromise have begun to leak out, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has reiterated his opposition to a triggered public option--which is reportedly part of a new health care agreement. I asked him today whether he still intends to filibuster, even if the Congressional Budget Office says it's unlikely to be filled. He drew a line in the sand.

"I've told them that I can't support a trigger--no, actually, to be more explicit: If they say that it's unlikely to be [pulled] then it's unnecessary," Lieberman said. "It's an irritant. And I keep saying to my colleagues: the underlying bill, that I would say 60 of us in the caucus support, that is, the parts that we support in the underlying bill, are so full of progress--let's get that done, and stop trying to squeeze in things that some of us, respectfully, just won't accept."

The trigger being considered would be pulled, according to a Senate aide briefed on the compromise, if private health insurers, managed by the federal government, do not offer nation-wide non-profit plans starting in 2014. If pulled, it would create a national public option. The measure was added to the agreement at the last moment at the insistence of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). But it may still prove an obstacle to passage of the health care bill.

Former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke, his family announced.

Burns, age 74, was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, after suffering the stroke at about 9 p.m. Wednesday night, at his home in Arlington, Virginia.

Burns was first elected to the Senate in 1988, defeating incumbent Democratic Sen. John Melcher. He was re-elected in 1994 and 2000, but was narrowly defeated in 2006 by Democrat Jon Tester, by a margin of 49%-48%.

Hey tea partiers, you say you want a revolution? Well, you know Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) understands.

At a recent town hall meeting in his Montross, VA-area district, Wittman told an angry constituent he sees where conservatives looking for an actual fight with their government are coming from. Told by a tea partier that the government is "gang-raping" the people and that it's getting close to time when "people will have no recourse but to take things into their own hands," Wittman wasn't fazed.

His response to the tea partier's call for revolt? "Good point."

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Pro-choice House members are reaching out to certain pro-life Democrats and co-ordinating with members of the Senate ahead of a potential clash over abortion that threatens to kill far-reaching health care legislation.

At her weekly press conference this morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she's not worried that divisions among Democrats over abortion will imperil the push for reform. "I think that will be worked out," she said.

The House health care bill includes a provision--known as the Stupak amendment--that would prevent millions of people from buying insurance policies that cover abortion. The Stupak amendment was adopted at the last minute, when a group of Democrats joined with the Republican party in a threat to kill the whole reform bill if the adoption language wasn't added to it. The Senate bill contains much more neutral abortion language, but one Democrat--Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE)--has in the past threatened to filibuster the bill if Stupak-like language isn't included in the bill.

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