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Politics Today: A "Bipartisan" Health Bill?

Politics Today is CBSNews.com's inside look at the key stories driving the day in politics, written by CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris:

** A "bipartisan" bill angers the left and the right…

** The president goes on a media blitz…

** Questions of racism keep the Joe Wilson controversy alive…

(AP)
HEALTH CARE: Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., unveils his committee's long-awaited "bipartisan" health care reform proposal today at Noon ET. There's only one problem, however: there's no "bi" in "bipartisan." And it's not just Republicans who have issues with the proposal; there are plenty of Democrats who have voiced their concerns as well.

"Senate Democrats' most concerted quest for a bipartisan compromise on healthcare collapsed Tuesday as finance committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced he would move ahead with his long-delayed proposals without any guarantee of Republican support," report the Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook and Peter Nicholas.

"Baucus also took a blow from his own party's left, as a senior Senate Democrat declared that too many concessions had been made and that he would not support the emerging bill because it did not include a public insurance option.

"'I cannot agree with [Baucus] on this bill,' said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), a senior finance committee member who has been briefed on the proposal. 'There is no way, in its present form, that I will vote for it.'..

"After the negotiations broke down, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the finance committee, accused Senate Democratic leaders of lacking a commitment to bipartisanship.

"'I'm disappointed because it looks like we're being pushed aside by the Democratic leadership so the Senate can move forward on a bill that, up to this point, does not meet the shared goals for affordable, accessible health coverage that we set forth when this process began,' said Grassley in a written statement."

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a moderate who Democrats were wooing hard, said she's not on board either, according to The Hill's Alexander Bolton and Jeffrey Young.

"Snowe (Maine), who was one of three Republicans who backed the $787 billion economic stimulus package, was being lobbied heavily by the White House, and some centrists view her refusal to strike a deal with Baucus as troubling. But concerns about how the plan would be paid for prompted her to back away in the hours before its release.

"'I do have concerns and I'm not sure they can be addressed before he issues [legislation] tomorrow,' Snowe said."

5305933"The lack of Republican support — at the outset, at least — suggests Democrats will need to make more concessions if they hope to produce a bipartisan bill. Otherwise, the Senate leadership may have to use a last-ditch procedural maneuver known as reconciliation to move the bill through the chamber with 51 votes," adds Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown. "The absence of Republicans could also damage President Barack Obama's efforts to convince Americans that his reform plan has broad support."

"Four other Congressional committees have approved health care bills drafted by Democrats and passed without any Republican support," write the New York Times' Robert Pear and David M. Herszenhorn.

"Democrats expressed a variety of concerns. Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said Mr. Baucus, by paring the cost of the bill, had also cut the subsidies that would help people buy insurance.

"'This is reducing coverage for poor and working people,' Mr. Rangel said, adding that such cuts 'could destroy the bill.'

"The House bill, in its current form, is expected to cost more than $1 trillion over 10 years, while Senate Democrats said the price tag for the Baucus proposal would be $880 billion or less.

"Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said he doubted that subsidies in the Baucus bill would be enough to enable middle-income people to buy insurance without straining family budgets, and he vowed to seek changes."

Washington Post's Alec MacGillis, "Obama Rallies Labor in Fight for Health-Care Reform"

Wall Street Journal's Vanessa Fuhrmans, "Mandated Health Insurance Squeezes Those in the Middle"

Washington Post's Shailagh Murray, "Young Adults May Pay Big Share of Reform's Cost"

(CBS/ AP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The president's first public event today is a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a time when Harper is facing political issues at home.

"Harper says his political opponents lack the will to defeat his government and force an election," reports the Toronto Star's Richard J. Brennan and Les Whittington. "He was reacting to word that the minority Conservatives will survive a confidence vote Friday and Canada will be spared another election, for now at least, thanks to Quebec's separatist party."

The CBC reports that during his U.S. visit, "Harper is expected to urge U.S. President Barack Obama and legislators to stand down on the "Buy American" clause... Harper's visit to Washington is the prime minister's first trip to the White House since Obama assumed office in January. He is also scheduled to meet with the leadership of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday.

"An oval office discussion on Wednesday is expected to primarily focus on the economy ahead of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh this weekend. Trade issues, restrictions on charter flights to U.S. cities, energy, national security and Afghanistan are already expected to be high on the agenda."

Later, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host an Olympics-related event, in part to promote Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

Mrs. Obama will be heading to Copenhagen, Denmark in two weeks to represent Chicago's bid.

"Much of the recent talk is that President Barack Obama won't go himself to make a last-minute pitch for Chicago, even though the leaders of the other finalist countries: Spain, Japan and Brazil will go," reports WBBM-TV's Rob Johnson.

"First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the Chicago delegation, a move Mayor Richard M. Daley is pleased with; even though he says it's not just a Chicago bid, it's a bid of the United States, and he holds out hope the president will reconsider…

"Athletes that will be on hand Wednesday at the White House include three- time Olympic gold medal winner in track and field Jackie Joyner-Kersee, 1996 gold medal gymnast Dominique Dawes, gold and silver medal winning triple jumper Mike Conley and 1988 volleyball gold medalist Bob Ctvrtlik. Each athlete has had high profiles when it comes to supporting the Chicago bid."

(CBS)
Meantime, Washington Post's Anne E. Kornblut reports, "As Right Jabs Continue, White House Debates a Counterpunching Strategy": "Facing a near-daily barrage of attacks from conservative opponents, White House officials are engaged in an internal debate over how hard to hit back, even as they have grown increasingly aggressive in countering allegations they deem to be absurd.

"After brushing aside criticism during the presidential campaign that they tried to keep candidate Barack Obama too far above the fray -- and with memories of the abundance of media coverage during the Clinton years -- administration officials are accelerating their efforts to anticipate and respond to the most sharp-edged charges.

"The White House officials are eager to avoid the perception that the president is directly engaging critics who appear to speak only for a vocal minority, and part of their strategy involves pushing material to liberal and progressive media outlets to steer the coverage in their direction, senior advisers said."

The president himself will be saturating the airwaves with TV interviews beginning on Sunday.

"President Barack Obama will appear on five news programs on Sunday, followed by a comedy show Monday night, in what is turning into a wall-to-wall bid for support of his embattled effort to overhaul the U.S. health-care system," writes the Wall Street Journal's Elizabeth Williamson.

"The president's heavy media schedule raises questions about whether his ubiquitous presence will dilute his effectiveness as a pitchman. Previous administrations have reserved presidential appearances for big occasions, compared with the current White House, which views Mr. Obama as its strongest policy advocate. ...

"Mr. Obama has granted 117 media interviews since he took office, 66 on television, according to Mark Knoller of CBS Radio, a veteran White House correspondent who has tallied presidential TV appearances over the past 15 years…

"On Sunday, the president is scheduled to appear on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and the Spanish language network Univision. The five Sunday appearances, to be filmed Friday at the White House, are unprecedented for a sitting president.

"On Monday, Mr. Obama will be the sole guest on David Letterman's 'Late Show.' CBS said this is the first time a sitting president has appeared on the show; as a candidate, Mr. Obama was a guest four times.

"The appearances follow a Sept. 13 interview on '60 Minutes,' the president's third on that show in a year, and two major televised speeches in a week."

Washington Post's Joel Achenbach, "Partisan Heat Shows No Sign of Cooling"

Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher and Brady Dennis, "Obama Many Policy 'Czars' Draw Ire From Conservatives"

5302808REP. JOE WILSON: The House of Representatives voted 240-179 on a "resolution of disapproval" to rebuke Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., for his outburst last week during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress. So, the story's over now, right? Not a chance...

"A resolution of disapproval is the softest form of punishment that the House administers. But the debate over Wilson grew far beyond a remark by a back-bench minority-party lawmaker. It encapsulated the increasing partisan tensions of the health-care debate, while igniting tensions among many black lawmakers who suggested that Obama is being treated harshly because some voters cannot accept him as the nation's first black president," writes the Washington Post's Paul Kane. "In the past six days, Wilson and his likely Democratic opponent in his 2010 reelection battle, Iraq veteran Rob Miller, have each raised more than $1.5 million through a frenzy of small donations to their campaigns, according to Democratic and Republican aides."

The New York Times' Carl Hulse adds, "While some lawmakers have suggested that Mr. Wilson's outburst had a racial component, top Democrats played down that view and said they were acting strictly to uphold proper order in the House.

"'I did not take a racial connotation from Mr. Wilson's remarks,' said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, who introduced the resolution. 'I do believe that there are expressions throughout the country being made that are unusually harsh. I think the attacks being made on Mr. Obama are unusually vitriolic.'"

CBS News' Mark Strassman, "Racism Behind Wilson's Heckle?"

"Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst to President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act 'based on racism' and rooted in fears of a black president," writes the Associated Press' Greg Bluestein. "'I think it's based on racism,' Carter said in response to an audience question at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. 'There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.'

"Wilson's son disputed that. 'There is not a racist bone in my dad's body,' said Alan Wilson, an Iraq veteran who is running for state attorney general in South Carolina. 'He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won't comment on former President Carter, because I don't know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it's just not in him.'"

Washington Post's Dana Milbank, "The High Ground Feels a Little Lonely": "The record will show that Democrats prevailed in Tuesday's party-line vote to reprimand Wilson. But it would be difficult to describe what happened on the House floor as a victory for the majority. The energy was all on the Republican side, where more than 50 lawmakers sat and watched and applauded -- double the number sitting on the Democratic side. One after another, Republicans rose to defend Wilson and to declare the Democrats 'childish' and 'partisan,' while on the Democratic side, not a single rank-and-file member was willing -- or, perhaps, allowed -- to join party leaders in speaking in favor of the resolution."

(AP)
ACORN: "Seizing on an issue that has been trumpeted by conservative media, Republican congressional leaders have launched an all-out campaign to choke off any federal dollars from going to ACORN, the scandal-plagued anti-poverty group," report Politico's John Bresnahan and Michael Falcone.

"After the Senate voted on Monday to bar any new federal money for ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — from the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top Republicans began pressing President Barack Obama to use his executive authority to extend the ban to all federal agencies."

"Federal and local authorities are considering pulling back on funding Acorn, a leading community organizing group, after videos showed employees at a number of Acorn offices allegedly advising a filmmaker how to evade taxes in operating a brothel," adds the Wall Street Journal's Jake Sherman.

"New York City is 'treating this very seriously,' a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, adding that the city will await an investigation by the Brooklyn district attorney before deciding whether to curtail funding to Acorn. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn, is the landlord for some of the city's affordable housing units. One of the hidden-camera videos was shot at an Acorn office in Brooklyn.

"The district attorney in Brooklyn launched an investigation Monday into whether Acorn employees broke state racketeering laws. A spokeswoman for the New York City Council, which makes direct grants to Acorn, said it was also 'looking at this matter closely.'"

CBS News' Cynthia Bowers, "ACORN May Lose Gov't Funds after Scandal"

Politico's Michael Calderone and Mike Allen, "Divide between right, mainstream media"

52804532009 VA GOV: Washington Post's Rosalind S. Helderman and Anita Kumar, "Record Haul for Deeds, but McDonnell Has More in Bank": "R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, raised half a million dollars more than his Republican opponent in July and August, collecting more over the two-month period than any other gubernatorial candidate in state history. But Republican Robert F. McDonnell, who did not have a primary opponent, has more money in the bank -- $5.8 million, compared with Deeds's nearly $4.4 million -- as the candidates enter the final 50 days before the Nov. 3 election. McDonnell also received money from more than 6,200 donors, nearly 2,800 more than Deeds."

2009 NJ GOV: Newark Star-Ledger's Tom Moran, "N.J. governor's race offers grim choice for residents": "For most voters, the New Jersey campaign for governor seems to present a grim choice. We have Chris Christie, presented as an obese version of George Bush, challenging Jon Corzine, the clumsy incumbent who has supposedly spent the last four years wrecking the economy while his fellow Democrats looted every treasury in the land. It's almost enough to make you vote for Chris Daggett, the independent candidate whose appeal is matched only by the hopelessness of his cause."

2010 MA SPECIAL ELECTION: "Legislative leaders on Beacon Hill believe they have narrow majorities in both chambers to give Governor Deval Patrick the power to appoint an interim US senator, in a sign that the controversial measure may pass," reports the Boston Globe's Matt Viser. "But the bill must still survive Republican attempts to delay or kill it through parliamentary maneuvers."

Boston Herald's Hillary Chabot and Jessica Van Sack, "Michael Capuano jumps in Senate Race"

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