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Politics Today: Health Reform Meets New Resistance

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:

** Waiting for the last health care bill to drop…

** Obama visits a GM plant…

** Does Joe Wilson represent simmering racial tension?...

5058008HEALTH CARE: Washington is quickly approaching the moment it's been waiting for all summer: the Senate Finance Committee's health care reform proposal – the final of five congressional committee bills – is likely to released Wednesday by chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

"The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Monday that he will propose an overhaul of the nation's health-care system that addresses a host of GOP concerns, including blocking illegal immigrants from gaining access to subsidized insurance, urging limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and banning federal subsidies for abortion," report the Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray.

"But even after Max Baucus (D-Mont.) spoke optimistically of gaining bipartisan backing, lawmakers continued to haggle over a question at the heart of the debate: How can the government force people to buy insurance without imposing a huge new financial burden on millions of middle-class Americans? ...

"Under the Baucus plan, described in a "framework" he released last week, as many as 4 million of the 46 million people who are currently uninsured would be required to buy coverage on their own, without government help, by some estimates. Millions more would qualify for federal tax credits, but could still end up paying as much as 13 percent of their income for insurance premiums -- far more than most Americans now pay for coverage."

Furthermore, "Some rank-and-file Senate Democrats are voicing concerns about sweeping health legislation being crafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, citing what they describe as excessive burdens placed on some families and concerns over financing for the $880 billion package," add the Wall Street Journal's Greg Hitt and Jonathan Weisman.

"Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) complained the legislation would ask working Americans to commit as much as 13 percent of their income to buy basic insurance. 'Additional steps are going to have to be taken to make coverage more affordable,' he said. 'That's a real hit on middle-class families.'..

"Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) raised concerns about Mr. Baucus's mix of new taxes and other means of paying for the plan. Among other things, Mr. Baucus is proposing to levy a new tax on so-called gold-plated health policies. He also wants to levy new fees on health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and other health-care industries."

5305933Meantime, report the New York Times' Robert Pear and David M. Herszenhorn, Two of the three Republicans working on a bipartisan compromise on health care in the Finance Committee have requested numerous major changes to Baucus' framework, including scrapping the individual mandate, restricting abortion coverage, limiting availability to legal immigrants and limiting state responsibility for Medicaid expansions.

"The Republicans, Senators Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, have catalogued their concerns in documents sent to the chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana...

"A summary of the senators' views, prepared by the Finance Committee, says Mr. Enzi believes that the federal government should pay '100 percent of the cost of the Medicaid expansion, in order to avoid an unfunded mandate' for states, which ordinarily share Medicaid costs with the federal government.

Mr. Enzi and Mr. Grassley have also objected to the fees that Mr. Baucus wants to impose on health insurance companies, clinical laboratories and manufacturers of medical devices. Such fees would help finance coverage of the uninsured…

"Mr. Baucus and other senators agree that illegal immigrants should not benefit from the health care overhaul in any way. Mr. Enzi and Mr. Grassley want a five-year waiting period for legal immigrants to receive tax credits, or subsidies, to help them buy insurance…

"[Grassley] believes that 'the individual responsibility to have health coverage should be reconsidered and replaced with a reinsurance policy to ensure that affordable health coverage is available to everyone in a voluntary system, with a lower overall cost for the package,' one document says."

The Associated Press' Erica Werner adds, "The action is being closely watched by Democrats in the House, many of whom want to see the direction the Senate Finance Committee takes before moving forward with floor votes on their bill, which three House committees approved in July."

This afternoon, President Obama is in Pittsburgh to speak to the AFL-CIO, which is "set to approve a resolution that says the nation's health care system is badly broken and that backs a far-reaching overhaul that would include a government-run option to compete with private insurers," writes the New York Times' Steven Greenhouse. "The resolution strongly backs the public option, saying it would force private insurance to cut costs and premiums."

CBSNews.com's Kevin Hechtkopf, "Obama Plans Sunday Health Care Blitz": "President Obama will appear on five Sunday morning political talk shows this weekend in order to make his case for health care reform. CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller calls this kind of simultaneous presidential blitz 'unprecedented.'"

Washington Post's Spencer S. Hsu, "Immigration, Health Debates Cross Paths"

5302328ECONOMY: This morning, the president heads to Lordstown, Ohio – near Youngstown – to visit a GM plant and talk about the economy.

"He added the Lordstown stop to a previously scheduled address that he will make later today at an AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh," reports the Youngstown Vindicator's Don Shilling.

"Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 in Lordstown, noted that the president's stop at the plant follows visits last year by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

"Obama is expected to note that Lordstown is calling back a second shift of workers Oct. 5 to boost production of the Chevrolet Cobalt and prepare for the launch of GM's next small car, the Chevrolet Cruze, in April."

Meantime, Mr. Obama "said job losses are 'bottoming out' and the U.S. economy looks to be growing again even as he warned against cutting off government aid 'so soon that the recovery doesn't take flight,'" report Bloomberg News' Rich Miller and Julianna Goldman

(AP)
"Obama, speaking to Bloomberg News one year after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. crippled the economy, voiced confidence that his plan to overhaul regulation to forestall another crisis would pass Congress this year.

"He vowed 'to do everything I can' to fight banking industry efforts to kill his proposal for a financial products safety agency and stuck by his call to make the Federal Reserve responsible for ensuring the stability of the overall system…

"'I don't think we're out of the woods yet,' he said. 'What we have to be careful about is taking the crutches away from the patient too early.' He said that was the mistake the U.S. made during the Great Depression. ... Still, Obama told CNBC television in a separate interview that he had a 'strong inclination' against a second stimulus package on top of the $787 billion program passed by Congress in February."

NY Times' Stephen Labaton and Jeff Zeleny, "For Obama, a Chance to Reform the Street Is Fading": "[W]ith the markets slowly healing, Mr. Obama's plan to revamp financial rules faces a diminishing political imperative. Disenchantment by many Americans with big government, along with growing obstacles from financial industry lobbyists pressing Congress not to do anything drastic, have also helped to stall his proposals."

5302808REP. JOE WILSON: House Democrats will move forward today with a resolution to rebuke Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., after his outburst during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress last week.

Bloomberg News' James Rowley and Jonathan D. Salant: "'The rules and standards of the House are clear,' said Kristie Greco, a spokeswoman for House Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. She briefed reporters on the proposal after a meeting of the party leaders yesterday in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California…

"The resolution isn't 'about speeches, it's not about politics, it's not about extraneous issues, it's about conduct,' and is aimed at expressing 'nonpartisan, direct disapproval of his breach of decorum,' said Greco.

"The resolution likely will spark a contentious, and partisan, debate.

"House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement yesterday he planned to oppose the measure. He contended it was motivated by 'petty partisanship.'"

The Washington Post's Paul Kane adds, "The vote on punishment will resolve the issue in the House, but behind the incident some see a broader question: Is racism a factor in the way the president is being judged? …

5133203"[House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.)] has said behind closed doors that many black voters saw Wilson's actions as part of the heated rhetoric from conservative activists whose protests, including one on the Capitol grounds Saturday, have included depictions of Obama as Adolf Hitler and the comic-book villain the Joker, according to those attending the meetings. It was one thing to have such remarks at town hall meetings during the summer recess but completely different during a presidential address to a joint session of Congress, Clyburn and other black Democrats argued, and Democrats needed to stand up for the nation's first black president.

"Clyburn has not publicly called Wilson's remark racist, but he told reporters immediately after the speech that Obama is the only president to have been treated in such a manner.

"Some black lawmakers were more direct.

"Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), who received hate mail from constituents during Congress's August break, said Wilson had just returned from the rowdy town hall forums at which the most heated accusations were leveled at Obama.

"'I think he was caught up in a moment. The issue is: Would he have done that if the president were white?' Scott said, adding that few Republicans opposed the 'level of rhetoric' against Obama in August. 'We've got to realize racism is playing a role here. I'm hopeful that this will be a wake-up call for us to get it off the table.'"

However, "There is also some uneasiness among rank-and-file Democrats, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, that by singling out Wilson, party leaders will make him a martyr or cause célèbre for the right," adds Politico's John Bresnahan.

"'I would not make Joe Wilson the martyr he is not,' Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) told POLITICO. 'If the House proceeds, they can make the mistake of appearing to want to humiliate a member who has indeed apologized to the president...We ought to think strategically about what there is to gain... I would not want to vote to humiliate him, rubbing it in.'

"But senior party officials said that it's too late, that Wilson is already an icon among conservative activists and other Obama critics for what he did. By sanctioning Wilson, Democrats demonstrate they won't tolerate such disrespect from other GOP lawmakers for Obama."

McClatchy Newspapers' James Rosen, "Tourism boycott threatened over Wilson's 'You lie' outburst"

(CBS)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: President Obama will make time to attend a fund-raiser for party-switcher Specter, who became a Democrat in April and is running for re-election next year.

"The event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center is already close to netting the five-term incumbent $2.5 million, according to Specter's campaign manager," reports the Harrisburg Patriot-News' Laura Vescey.

"The event is expected to draw about 1,000 guests, one of whom will not be U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, who is challenging Specter in the 2010 Democratic primary.

"Specter switched parties in April after delivering a key vote on the $787 billion stimulus bill, prompting Obama and other Democratic party leaders to pledge their support to Specter. But instead of facing Republican challenger Pat Toomey, Specter faces pressure from the progressive-leaning Sestak."

"Next month, Vice President Joe Biden will headline a Specter fundraiser in Pittsburgh," adds the Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas and Josh Drobnyk.

"Although a president may not want to take sides in such contests, the Specter case is different, said Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Specter supporter.

"'The president feels an obligation because he and the vice president worked hard to get Sen. Specter to switch parties, and that's not your normal situation,' Rendell said. 'I think they feel obligated.'

"The move carries risks for Obama. Should Sestak prevail as an insurgent candidate lacking establishment backing, it would be an embarrassment for a president who ran much the same kind of campaign in 2008."

(CBS)
2010 MA SPECIAL ELECTION: Associated Press' Glen Johnson, "Kennedy race shaped by those not running": "With the clock running on a shortened election calendar, the campaign to succeed Sen. Edward Kennedy has become notable for who's not running, instead of who is.

"Not his wife, Vicki Kennedy. Not his nephew Joseph P. Kennedy II. Not Martin Meehan, a former congressman with a mother lode of $5 million in the bank. Not Andrew Card, a former White House chief of staff with the capacity to raise millions himself.

"On Monday, Rep. John Tierney said he wouldn't run because he was more valuable to the state as a House veteran than as a Senate freshman. That was the same rationale his fellow Democrat, Rep. Edward J. Markey, gave Friday when he bailed on a campaign.

"So far, the field includes an attorney general not three years into her first statewide term, a state senator and a town selectman. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has talked about running, and Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics, is said to be weighing a campaign."

Wall Street Journal's Peter Lattman, "Stephen Pagliuca May Run for Kennedy's Senate Seat"

Boston Globe's Andrea Estes, "U.S. Senate candidate asks Patrick to investigate": "State Senator Scott Brown, the Republican frontrunner for Edward M. Kennedy's US Senate seat, asked Governor Deval Patrick yesterday to investigate whether state employees spent public time and resources researching if Brown could run for office while serving in the National Guard."

2009 VA GOV: Roanoke Times' Michael Sluss, "NRA throws support to McDonnell"

Newport News Daily Press' Kimball Payne, "Deeds, McDonnell have two debates this week"

2009 NJ GOV: Associated Press, "Christie, Corzine trade jabs"

ALSO

CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli, "Jody Powell, Former W.H. Press Secretary, Dies": "Powell, who was 65, served as President Jimmy Carter's press secretary from 1977 to 1981."

Associated Press' Anne Gearan, "White House postponing hard calls on war": "The Obama administration is holding off major decisions that could put its military forces on a firmer war footing in Afghanistan even as doubts grow about whether the United States can win there."

New York Times' John Harwood, "Obama Rejects Afghanistan-Vietnam Comparison"

Washington Post's Garance Franke-Ruta and Anne E. Kornblut, "The Presidents' Power Lunch": " After President Obama delivered a speech to New York City's financial sector Monday, he headed to Greenwich Village to grab lunch. His tablemate: Bill Clinton. Earlier this year, the former president said he had been in touch with the current chief executive only occasionally -- their relationship had been frosty and at times contentious as Obama battled Hillary Rodham Clinton during the primaries. But now they are seeing each other on an almost regular basis."

Wall Street Journal's Corey Boles, "Senate Acts to Deny Acorn Aid": "The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday to prevent Acorn, an umbrella group of community organizers, from being able to bid for federal grant money. The 83-7 vote came as Acorn -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- has been in the spotlight for hidden-camera videos in which Acorn employees give tax advice to a couple posing as a prostitute and her pimp."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Melody McDonald, "Six days after drawing fire for not showing President Barack Obama's speech to schoolchildren, Arlington Superintendent Jerry McCullough announced Monday that he also will not be allowing 600 fifth-graders to attend a Super Bowl event next week featuring former President George W. Bush."

Washington Post's Garance Franke-Ruta, "Tweeted and Deleted: Obama Rebukes Kanye West": "President Obama called musician Kanye West a "jackass" during an interview Monday with CNBC, an ABC News anchor reported to his followers on Twitter. But the tweet caused some red faces at ABC, and the network soon apologized for publicizing what had apparently been an off-the-record comment."

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