TPMDC Saturday Roundup

Obama: We Have Rationed Care And Bureaucracy Right Now
In this weekend’s YouTube address, President Obama set out to debunk the attacks against his health care proposals — and put the blame squarely on insurance companies with a vested interest in the status quo, who commit the same abuses that opponents of reform are warning against:

“If you’re worried about rationed care, higher costs, denied coverage, or bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor, then you should know that’s what’s happening right now,” said Obama. “In the past three years, over 12 million Americans were discriminated against by insurance companies due to a preexisting condition, or saw their coverage denied or dropped just when they got sick and needed it most.”

Hatch: Town Hall Protestors Are Not “Un-American”
In this weekend’s Republican address, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that Republican do support meaningful reforms in health insurance — and attacked Democrats over their health care plans and for belittling protestors at town halls:

“I am disappointed about the attempts to characterize the behavior of Americans expressing their concerns as ‘un-American,'” said Hatch. “Although I strongly encourage the use of respectful debate in these town halls, we should not be stifling these discussions. There is nothing ‘un-American’ about disagreements. In fact, our great nation was founded on speaking our minds.”Obama’s Day Ahead
President Obama and the First Lady will tour Yellowstone National Park at 1:30 p.m. ET, will depart at 4:35 p.m. ET, and will arrive in Grand Junction, Colorado, at 5:40 p.m. ET, where Obama will hold a town hall on health insurance reform at 6:25 p.m. ET. They will depart from Grand Junction at 8:10 p.m. ET, and will arrive in Phoenix, Arizona, at 9:35 p.m. ET.

Conrad’s Office: He Is Not Committed To Opposing Public Option
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) has moved to shoot down reports that he has promised to oppose a health care bill with a public option. His spokesperson Sean Neary told Salon that Conrad had told constituents that he won’t let the government run their health care, but that this position does not preclude the option.

Webb Wins Release Of U.S. Prisoner In Burma
Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) won the release of John Yettaw, an American who had been imprisoned by the Burmese government for attempting to meet with democratic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Webb also met with Suu Kyi, as well as with the junta leader Gen. Than Shwe. “It is my hope that we can take advantage of these gestures as a way to begin laying the foundations of goodwill and confidence building in the future,” Webb said in a statement.

AP: Republicans Back Away From End-of-Life Counseling
The Associated Press has caught on that Republicans who previously backed living wills and end-of-life counseling are now backing away from it, and standing by Sarah Palin’s “death panel” remarks to slam President Obama. “Until last week this was basically a nonpartisan issue,” said John Rother, executive vice president of the AARP. Sen. Johnny Isakson previously called the death panel idea “nuts,” but now says of Palin: “I would never question anyone’s defense of their child.”

Kennedy’s Absences Raise Concern For Health Vote
The Hill reports that some people in Washington are worried that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) may not be able to make it to the Senate to vote on health care reform. This worry is especially pertinent after Kennedy was unable to attend his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s funeral yesterday.

Hillary Finishes Tour Of Africa
Sec. of State Hillary Clinton finished up her tour of Africa on Friday, saying that she was even more committed to helping the region than she was before. “The Obama administration has delivered a message of tough love,” said Clinton. “We’re not sugarcoating the problems, we’re not shying away from them. We are investing time and effort in the people of Africa.”