The White House may be indicating to Senate allies that it is open to dropping the public plan option as part of a health reform deal. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), who has been pushing a proposal to replace the public plan with regional cooperatives, said chief of staff Rahm Emanuel indicated Obama is “open to alternatives.”
Vice President Cheney has “signed a book deal with a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster” and will reportedly receive at least $2 million in the arrangement. Cheney’s book is expected to come out in spring 2011, a few months after President Bush’s memoir. He said that he has no plans to write “a screed” against liberals.
“An airstrike believed to have been carried out by a United States drone killed at least 60 people at a funeral for a Taliban fighter in South Waziristan on Tuesday, residents of the area and local news reports said.” If the details of the attack, which remain sketchy, are verified, “the strike could be the deadliest since the United States began using the aircraft to fire remotely guided missiles” at the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called yesterday for President Obama “to come up with a comprehensive immigration plan this year, saying a directive from the White House is the only way to push the complex issue forward.” “What we need is not another photo op at the White House. What we need now is a plan from the president,” said Cornyn, adding that “the president doesn’t write legislation, but he does have the bully pulpit.”
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday that “‘neither the system nor the people will submit to bullying‘ over the results of the disputed presidential election, which he has given a powerful supervisory body an additional five days to review.” “Everyone should respect the law. … We will not step an inch beyond the law: our law, our country’s law, the Islamic Republic’s law,” Khamenei said.
Working to “rehabilitate U.S. relations with the Islamic world and the Arab Middle East,” President Obama “has decided to return a U.S. ambassador to Syria after a four-year hiatus as talks between the two nations intensify.” “It’s in our interests to have an ambassador in Syria,” a senior administration official said.
Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive who worked in the industry for more than 20 years, is scheduled to testify this afternoon before the Senate. “Potter is expected to speak critically of insurance company practices and provide insight on why consumers often come away feeling confused after dealing with insurance companies.”
MoveOn.org is urging its sizable membership to hound Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The group is “criticizing her for cautionary remarks she made on CNN on Sunday about overhauling the health care system.” The group’s e-mail, which also carries a plea for donations to put up ads against her, says, “Her statement is a big deal: Political momentum could make or break health care reform this year.”
White House lawyers “are quietly drafting first-of-their kind guidelines barring workplace discrimination against transgender federal employees.” The guidelines, which “will be in an updated federal handbook for managers and supervisors to be distributed and posted online in the next couple of months,” will list transgender people as among several groups protected by antidiscrimination laws.
And finally: Approximately 600 extras gathered on Tybee Island, GA, on Monday to film the upcoming Miley Cyrus movie, “The Last Song.” One of those fans was Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who brought along his family. Receiving $8 an hour, Kingston and the others tried to portray “typical beach-goers.” “I took with me a whole bunch of Congressional reading, and at one point a wave washed up on the beach and soaked and ruined all my papers,” Kingston said. “Which was a good thing. It’s one way to process it.”
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