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Axelrod: Obama May Get More Specific In Health Care Rhetoric White House senior adviser David Axelrod told the Associated Press that President Obama is considering a speech that would be more specific about health care reform, which could be delivered before the September 15 that the White House has given the Senate negotiators. "The ideas are all there on the table," said Axelrod. "Now we are in a new phase, and it's time to pull the strands of these together."

Obama's Day Ahead: Back on Vacation President Obama will depart from the White House at 12:30 p.m. ET, and will head to Camp David to resume his vacation.

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Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge continued backpedaling last night on his new book's assertion that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumseld "strongly urged" him to raise the terror alert level -- possibly for political reasons -- just before the 2004 election.

In The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege, Ridge wrote that although Rumsfeld and Ashcroft wanted to raise the alert level, "There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None. I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?'" As we reported yesterday, Ridge is now scrambling to recast that statement.

On Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show last night, Ridge continued to contradict himself. "At no time, at no time, at no time did politics enter, in my judgment, anybody's equation," Ridge said.

Ridge went on to say that "politics was not involved" and that "I was not pressured."

Maddow then read to Ridge directly from his book's jacket: "'He recounts episodes such as the pressure that the DHS received to raise the security alert on the eve of of the '04 presidential election.' That's wrong?"

"Those aren't my words," Ridge said. "Read the book." But not the book's jacket. That stuff just can't be trusted.

Here's the video:

In an interview with Ezra Klein over at the Washington Post, DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) shot back at the current Republican arguments about protecting Medicare from the Democrats:

The hypocrisy is shameless. I won't go through the history of Medicare, but for Republicans to say that you should trust us on Medicare is like Colonel Sanders guarding the chicken coop. I think most seniors know that, and these scare tactics will boomerang. I don't think people will buy it, since the guys peddling this stuff are the very people who have been trying to undermine and weaken Medicare for years and years. There was a budget alternative put forward by Paul Ryan this year that would have ended Medicare as we know it and given all seniors a voucher to get their health care on the private market. And they voted for it. So we know what they wanted to do with Medicare.

That GOP base is sure a tough crowd to please.

A new Rasmussen poll finds that only 18% of Republican voters believe the party's elected officials have done a good job representing their views. Also, 55% of GOP voters say the average Republican in Congress is more liberal than the average Republican.

At the same time, 84% say it is more important for the party to stand up for what it believes in, rather than work with President Obama. But isn't that what the GOP is already doing -- and they still can't get a thumbs-up from the base?

AFL-CIO's position on the health care debate is clear. To those who might obstruct the public option, "do so at your peril," AFL-CIO secretary treasurer Richard Trumka said.

"If you're not willing to do what you promised to do, you'll have a tough time convincing our members at election time."

"It is an absolute must," he said. "[W]e won't support the bill if it doesn't have a public option in it."

Trumka is expected to be named AFL-CIO president this month. His remarks echo similar comments he made in August, but seem to really turn up the temperature on public option foes and skeptics, who'll be getting no love from labor if they block it.

As Republicans walk away from bipartisan health care negotiations and Democrats prepare to pass reforms on their own, the GOP is sharpening its rhetorical swords ahead of a big legislative fight.

"I think that would wreck our health care system and wreck the Democratic Party if they did that," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told reporters during a Tuesday conference call. "[T]here would be a minor revolution in the country."

He's beginning to sound like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). Which is telling for a senator who's normally thought of as one of the GOP's less abrasive members. And though Alexander probably isn't the best source of information for what will or will not wreck the Democratic party, his dramatic words signal that the Republicans take the threat seriously.

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A new CNN poll has a curious result: President Obama now has a net disapproval among independents -- but his overall top-line approval is still in positive territory.

Obama's top-line approval is 53%, with 45% disapproval. Among independents, however, he's at 43%-53%. Nine out of ten Democrats approve of Obama, with the large amount of Dems keeping him up.

Obama also attracts a majority approval on foreign policy and terrorism, but majority disapproval on other key issues: Health care, taxes, the economy and the budget deficit.

And you wonder why people are confused about the health care debate.



What's particularly striking about this exchange is that, when offered the most clear and concise possible explanation for why 44-year old Anthony Weiner isn't on a government plan that's only open to people aged 65 and over, she just whoops it up as if she's caught him in some sort of damning contradiction.

Obviously, the real punchline is that many of the people criticizing the Democrats' health care plan don't have the foggiest idea how any of it works. And Bartiromo in particular reveals--however inadvertently--that she thinks elements of the proposal make perfect sense. Yes, she's wrong to assume Weiner could buy into Medicare, and she's wrong to assume that he chooses not to because the coverage is sub-par. But ironically, the idea that Weiner should be able to buy into Medicare seems totally uncontroversial to her. And that, of course, is the whole point of the public option.

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