The daily Progressive Breakfast serves up what progressive movement members need to know to start their day.
Obama Targets Right-Wing Health Care Lies
The Treatment’s Jonathan Cohn on the latest false conservative ad: “Produced by an increasingly notorious organization called Conservatives for Patient’s Rights, the ad claims that health reform will ‘squeeze’ Americans with rising taxes, skyrocketing premiums, huge deficits, and lousy medical care. And how accurate is it? Jenny Gold, Kaiser’s correspondent, concludes: ‘…the facts are largely taken out of context, come from biased industry groups or have been discredited. “There’s absolutely nothing here that’s right. It’s unbelievable,” says John Holahan, director of the Health Policy Research Center at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.’”
STILL GOING: OurFuture.org’s Health Care Reform Fact Check
Schumer ratchets up pressure on Baucus caucus. Politico: “[Schumer] said Democrats are prepping back-up plans if Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) fails to strike a bipartisan deal by Sept. 15. But while Schumer described this path as ‘more than fair,’ Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), a top negotiator, disputed that there was even a Sept. 15 deadline in the first place. And Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said she did not like the deadline, given that ‘every day you have one step forward and maybe 10 backwards.’”
Bloomberg reports Schumer put simple majority vote in play, negating need to court GOP: “Schumer said Democrats may invoke the practice of ‘reconciliation,’ which requires only 51 votes for Senate passage … The reconciliation procedure ‘is clearly one of the contingencies on the table,’ said Schumer…”
Durbin tells Wonk Room he could vote for a bill without public option to move the process forward, still assumes need for 60 votes: “Well, reluctantly, I would support such a bill through the Senate because I want this process to go forward and know the House of representatives has a bill with the public option. But we have the reality of 60 votes in the Senate and two Senators who are sick. Senator Byrd, who may be able to return. We hope he can. Senator Kennedy, we hope he can return. Without them, we need at least two, maybe three Republicans to support our effort and there seems to be universal opposition to a public option among all Republican Senators. That’s the political reality. So I’ll support what it takes to get a bill through the Senate, but if you want to know my personal preference, I support the public option.”
Pelosi pressure on progressives gets (some) pushback: “House liberals are offended that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mocked their threats to oppose a Democratic healthcare bill, saying leaders are underestimating their frustration over a deal cut with centrist Blue Dogs … The Progressive Caucus is working on a statement protesting Pelosi’s comments … at least one of the 60 lawmakers who signed the letter [opposing the Blue Dog compromise] admitted he might not be able to follow through on his threat.”
CQ on WH grassroots and message strategy: “Beginning Wednesday with a return trip to economically devastated Elkhart, Ind., the president and his proxies will launch a monthlong blitz of town hall meetings, grass-roots lobbying and television advertising designed to rally public support for quick votes on health plans in the House and Senate following the August congressional recess … Central to the pitch is explaining how ‘health insurance reform,’ as the White House now refers to the effort, will actually create a better system and improve people’s lives. The president offered a preview during appearances in Charlotte, N.C. and Bristol, Va., last week, by outlining a series of consumer-protection measures aimed at curbing some less-savory insurance company practices, such as dropping coverage for individuals who become seriously ill or charging unlimited out-of-pocket expenses.”
HHS Sec Sebelius takes to W. Post oped page to make the case for more choice: “The current health-care system gives insurance companies all the power. They get to pick and choose who gets a policy. They can deny coverage because of a preexisting condition. They can offer coverage only at exorbitant rates — or offer coverage so thin that it’s no coverage at all. Americans are left to worry about whether they’ll get laid off and lose their insurance or wake up from surgery with a $10,000 bill because they didn’t read the fine print on their policy. By giving Americans choices, health reform will switch the roles. Americans will get peace of mind and insurance companies will start getting nervous. They will know that if they don’t deliver a great value, their customers will flee. So they will start offering better coverage.”
Is there a deal to kill Medicare negotiations for lower drug prices? LA Times: “If a package passes Congress, the pharmaceutical industry has pledged $80 billion in cost savings over 10 years to help pay for it. For his part, [drug lobbyist Billy] Tauzin said he had not only received the White House pledge to forswear Medicare drug price bargaining, but also a separate promise not to pursue another proposal Obama supported during the campaign: importing cheaper drugs from Canada or Europe … White House officials acknowledge discussing the importation question with Tauzin but had no comment on whether there was an agreement to block future Medicare price negotiations.” NOTE: House compromise bill includes empowering public plan to negotiate drug prices.
Positive Cash For Clunkers Results Persuading Senate
NYT reports strong fuel-efficiency numbers bringing around key Senators: “Dealers estimated that they moved a quarter-million cars with the rebate money. The Transportation Department reported that of 120,000 rebate applications processed so far, the average gas mileage of cars being bought was 28.3 miles per gallon, for SUV’s 21.9 miles per gallon, and for trucks, 16.3 miles per gallon, all significantly higher than required to get a rebate. ‘The statistics are much better than anybody dreamt they would be,’ said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who, with Senator Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine, was the author of an early version of a ‘cash for clunkers’ bill that would have required bigger improvements. The actual mileage gain seen so far, she said was not due to the details of the law but ‘the good judgment of the American people.’”
Bloomberg adds: “‘This program has done much better than we ever thought it would for the environment,’ Feinstein told reporters. ‘The best solution is to continue the program as-is.’ Vehicles to be scrapped under the cash for clunkers, aimed at boosting U.S. new car sales, averaged 15.8 miles per gallon, compared with 25.4 miles per gallon for the new vehicles purchased, according to Transportation Department data.”
Climate Progress endorses: “A 9 mpg gain translates into annual savings of 3.8 million barrels of oil per year and nearly $1,000 for consumers at the pump -– not to mention that it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 660,000 metric tons a year. Okay, not a cost-effective emission reducer, but still, given the multiple benefits of the program, pretty darn good. Indeed, the environmental gain is even greater because the trade-ins are not resold to the public or shipped to the developing world — but recycled.”
Streetsblog’s Elana Schor has a negative takeaway: “Even if $2 billion in new ‘clunker’ rebates were offered … the total resulting decline in America’s daily oil consumption would be 0.05 percent:”
Republicans maintain opposition: “Senate Republican leaders railed against it Monday, calling the program a model of government inefficiency and out-of-control spending … ‘We were told this program would last for several months. As it turned out, it ran out of money in a week, prompting the House to rush a $2 billion dollar extension before anybody even had time to figure out what happened with the first billion,’ said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.”
Calls To Investigate Coal Lobbyist For Forged Letter
The controversial business of selling grassroots political campaigns is getting the spotlight treatment as details continue to emerge about the source of fake letters sent to a first-term member of Congress urging him to vote against the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill.
The Sierra Club on Monday petitioned the Department of Justice to investigate letters that were received by Rep. Tom Perriello, a Democrat representing central Virginia. In a letter sent Monday to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Sierra Club asked the department to look into whether the letters, which came to light on Friday, constitute fraud. The liberal activist group MoveOn, meanwhile, is asking its members to sign an online petition urging the DOJ to “conduct a thorough investigation” into Bonner & Associates, the firm responsible for producing the forged letters that were faxed to Perriello’s office.
Bonner & Associates has admitted that one of its employees was the source of a letter to Perriello that purported to come from Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that represents the Hispanic community of Charlottesville, Va. Bonner said it has fired the temporary employee who sent the letter.
On Monday, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity admitted that it had contracted with Bonner & Associates to do “limited outreach” on the climate issue. The group denounced the fake letters and said it was considering legal action against Bonner.
Boxer and Kerry to draft Senate bill after one more hearing Thursday. ClimateWire: “Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is the lead witness for three star-studded panels Thursday that also include top officials from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Energy Department, Environmental Defense Fund and MidAmerican Energy Co. The EPW Committee is at the center of the Senate effort to pass cap-and-trade legislation, with Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) pledging to produce a draft bill when lawmakers return Sept. 8 … Environmentalists have been standing outside the EPW Committee room at recent hearings dressed up in big muscle costumes, urging her to strengthen the bill by setting a 40 percent cut in emissions by 2020. Others would like her to go in the other direction, including most major electric utility companies and some of the very moderate House Democrats who helped push their bill across the finish line, including Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) …”
W. Post on Senate’s self-imposed deadline: “Senate leaders say it will all be assembled by Sept. 18. That’s the deadline that Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has set for five committees to pass portions of the bill. ‘It’s a date that’s doable,’ Reid said in a conference call with reporters last week. ‘We can’t let that slip.’ But other legislators wonder if, when the health-care debate finally ends, the Senate will have the stomach or the attention span for another complicated fight.”