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Politics Today: Obama On The Road For Health Care

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:

**President Obama hits the road to push for health care reform...

**Sotomayor videos come to light...

**Palins call Letterman jokes "pathetic", "disgusting", "despicable"...

**Congressional financial disclosure forms released...

**Schwarzenegger threatens to shut down California government...

(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The president is off to Green Bay, Wisc., for a town meeting-style event at 1:10pm ET to drum up support for his health care reform proposals.

"Obama's trip comes as a possible compromise emerged in the Senate to one of the most vexing obstacles in the health care reform debate. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., offered a plan to create health care cooperatives owned by groups of residents and small businesses," reports the Associated Press' Philip Elliot.

"They would operate as nonprofits and without the government involvement that troubles Republicans and others about other public plan options. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, said Wednesday the idea could be key to a bipartisan health bill. Administration officials said the president's speech in Green Bay would contain no new policies, but would instead put Obama — and the traveling White House press corps — in position to hear directly from people who are affected in the existing system. Those stories, Obama's political aides said, would be key to selling the final product."

Regarding Conrad's compromise, "The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, said Wednesday the idea could be key to a bipartisan health bill," writes the AP's Erica Werner.

Meantime, reports the New York Times' Robert Pear, "the American Medical Association is letting Congress know that it will oppose creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan, which President Obama and many other Democrats see as an essential element of legislation to remake the health care system.

"The opposition, which comes as Mr. Obama prepares to address the powerful doctors' group on Monday in Chicago, could be a major hurdle for advocates of a public insurance plan. The A.M.A., with about 250,000 members, is America's largest physician organization. While committed to the goal of affordable health insurance for all, the association had said in a general statement of principles that health services should be 'provided through private markets, as they are currently.'"

The Los Angeles Times' Noam N. Levey and Janet Hook examine the debate over the cost of reform: "Behind the open brawling over how to rebuild the nation's healthcare system, another struggle is beginning that may be the toughest test for the drive to cover millions of people without insurance and improve medical care for all: who should pay the eye-popping bill.

"President Obama and his congressional allies -- who are also struggling to hold down the national debt after years of deficit spending and new outlays to combat the recession -- have pledged to raise more than $1 trillion over the next decade to offset the costs of what would be the biggest health overhaul in generations. But the prospect of new taxes, new fees for businesses and cutbacks in other government spending has set off a furious behind-the-scenes struggle that is reviving the old maxim attributed to the late Sen. Russell Long of Louisiana: 'Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.'"

(CBS)
So, why Green Bay for the president's trip today? The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly writes, "When President Obama touches down today in Green Bay, Wis., he will be landing in one of the highest-value health communities in the nation, a city that by numerous measures has managed to control medical spending while steadily improving health outcomes. …

"What Obama is likely to hear in Green Bay is testimony to the value of digital records, physician collaboration, preventive care and transparency, say those most involved in Wisconsin's innovative approach.

See Also On This Site: Health Care Reform Enters Critical Phase by Stephanie Condon

5065717SOTOMAYOR: The New York Times' Charlie Savage reports, "Judge Sonia Sotomayor once described herself as 'a product of affirmative action' who was admitted to two Ivy League schools despite scoring lower on standardized tests than many classmates, which she attributed to 'cultural biases' that are 'built into testing.'

On another occasion, she aligned with conservatives who take a limited view of when international law can be enforced in American courts. But she criticized conservative objections to recent Supreme Court rulings that mention foreign law as being based on a 'misunderstanding.' Those comments were among a trove of videos dating back nearly 25 years that shed new light on Judge Sotomayor's views."

Meanwhile, "Senate Republicans on Wednesday stepped up their complaints that Judge Sonia Sotomayor submitted incomplete responses to the written questionnaire in connection with her nomination to the Supreme Court," writes the Times' David M. Herszenhorn.

"A half-dozen Republicans, including Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the party's senior member of the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Judge Sotomayor urging her to fill in the gaps. Among other requests, they demanded that she provide copies of the Yale Law Journal, of which she was an editor, and also that she clarify her role on the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, an advocacy group in New York."

"Republicans accused Democrats Wednesday of moving too hastily on Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, warning that the decision could imperil her confirmation as they pressed the judge for more documents from her past," writes the AP's Julie Hirschfeld Davis.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
"The top Senate Republican blasted Democrats' decision to schedule mid-July hearings for Sotomayor's confirmation, while another senior GOP senator floated the possibility of a filibuster by angry Republicans against President Barack Obama's first high court nominee. 'They want the shortest timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest judicial record in recent memory,' said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader. 'This violates basic standards of fairness and it prevents senators from carrying out one of their most solemn duties.'"
(AP)
PALIN vs. LETTERMAN: If Conan O'Brien's ratings dive in recent days isn't drawing enough attention to "The Late Show with David Letterman", Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, seems to be doing her part too.

Earlier this week, she called one of Letterman's jokes about her "pathetic." The joke? No. 3 on Monday's "Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Palin's Trip to New York": "Bought makeup from Bloomingdale's to update her 'slutty flight attendant' look."

Palin "lambasted late-night comedian David Letterman Wednesday for 'sexually perverted comments' about one of her teenage daughters - and rebuffed his moves to make nice," reports the New York Daily News' Michael Saul.

"The CBS funnyman joked Monday of Palin's recent New York visit that 'during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.' Palin was incensed. 'Laughter incited by sexually perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is ... disgusting,' the Alaska governor said in a statement. …

"But Letterman insisted on his show Wednesday night that he was referring to 18-year-old Bristol Palin … 'We were, as we often do, making jokes about people in the news,' Letterman said. 'These are not jokes made about her 14-year-old daughter. I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl,' he added. …

"It doesn't matter whether he was talking about Willow or Bristol, what he said was unacceptable,' responded Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow."

CONGRESSIONAL FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES: "Top House lawmakers had considerable holdings in major financial institutions that took billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts at the end of last year, according to annual financial disclosure reports released yesterday," report the Washington Post's Paul Kane and Carol D. Leonig.

"From stock holdings to retirement funds to mortgages, more than 20 House leaders and members of the House Financial Services Committee had large personal stakes in the Wall Street powerhouses whose collapse last year led to an unprecedented government intervention in the marketplace. In some instances those lawmakers, like millions of other investors, sold their holdings at steep losses while others retained the stocks at greatly diminished value."

"Ohio Rep. John Boehner, the ranking House Republican, reported assets worth between about $1.7 million and about $6.6 million as of Dec. 31, 2008, according to his financial report. The prior year, Mr. Boehner reported that his assets were worth between about $2.2 million and $7.9 million," add the Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins and T.W. Farnam.

Politico's Abby Phillip reveals that Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and John Cornyn, R-Tex., each spent more than $140,000 in taxpayer money on travel in the first half of the fiscal year — roughly 10 times as much as some of their thriftier colleagues."

(CBS)
CALIFORNIA BUDGET WOES: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed Wednesday to let California government come to a 'grinding halt' rather than agree to a high-interest loan to keep the state afloat if he and the Legislature do not close the yawning budget gap in coming weeks," reports the Los Angeles Times' Shane Goldmacher.

"State finance officials say California coffers will be empty in late July unless the projected $24-billion budget shortfall is resolved quickly. Schwarzenegger said that emergency borrowing would be too expensive and that his threat to block it was necessary to prod lawmakers into swift action. A loan would only 'give them another reason why we don't have to do it now,' the governor said. 'What we need to do is just to basically cut off all the funding and just let them have a taste of what it is like when the state comes to a shutdown -- grinding halt.'"

ALSO TODAY: Per Vice President Biden's office, he'll "kick off his 'Road to Recovery' tour where he will travel to communities across the country highlighting Recovery Act funds at work creating jobs and improving our nation's infrastructure.

"The Vice President will be joined by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. At 10:45 AM EDT, the Vice President will attend the groundbreaking for the Route 34 bridge project in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The Vice President will be joined by Governor Edward G. Rendell, Senator Arlen Specter and other local officials. ... At 2:45 PM CDT, the Vice President will attend the groundbreaking for the US Highway 69 project in Overland Park, Kansas. The Vice President will be joined by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Governor Mark Parkinson, and other local officials."

Also, reports the AP's Jim Abrams, "A tobacco control bill set to win Senate approval would give the federal government broad new powers to monitor and change a toxic substance that contributes to some 400,000 deaths every year. The legislation, heading for a vote Thursday, would for the first time give the Food and Drug Administration legal authority to regulate the sale, manufacturing and marketing of tobacco products. Supporters hailed it as a milestone in efforts to reduce smoking, comparable to the 1964 surgeon general's warning that smoking causes lung cancer, the 1990 banning of smoking on planes and the 1998 settlement in which the tobacco industry pledged the states $206 billion to help fund anti-tobacco campaigns."

EXECUTIVE PAY

Washington Post's David Cho, Zachary A. Goldfarb and Tomoeh Murakami Tse, "U.S. Targets Excessive Pay for Top Executives"

NY Times' Stephen Labaton, "Treasury to Set Executives' Pay at 7 Ailing Firms"

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

Wall Street Journal's Christopher Conkey, "Pro-Business Group Targets Obama Agenda"

AUTO INDUSTRY

Detroit Free Press' Justin Hyde, "Obama aide: Auto rescue likely to pay off"

Politico's Lisa Lerer and Manu Raju, "GOP wants U.S. out of auto, bank business"

FUTURE RACES

Politico's John Bresnahan, "W.H. hits fundraising circuit"

2009 VA Governor: Washington Post's Anita Kumar, "Candidates For Governor Get Fast Start"

2010 OK Governor: The Oklahoman's Michael McNutt, "Drew Edmondson announces plan to run for governor"

2010 FL Senate: Tampa Tribune's William March, "Poll shows Crist shellacking Rubio"

2010 FL Senate: Politico's Michael Falcone, "Snowbird's play from the right"

2010 NY Senate: NY Daily News' Elizabeth Benjamin, "Maloney goes after Gillibrand"

2010 NY Senate: Newsday, "Democrat Tasini to announce for U.S. Senate seat"

2010 PA Senate: Philadelphia Inquirer's William Bender, "If Sestak runs for Senate, all eyes turn to Delco races"

2012 Presidential: Associated Press' Mike Glover, "Huckabee warns Republicans against 'mushy middle'"

VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

Washington Post's Dan Balz, "Lack of Virginia Roots Doomed McAuliffe's Bid"

Associated Press' Beth Fouhy, "McAuliffe defeat another blow to Clinton legacy"

ETC.

Politics Daily's Lynn Sweet, "Sasha Obama Spends Her 8th B'day on Harry Potter Set in London"

Hampton Daily Press' David Squires, "Rev. Jeremiah Wright discusses says 'Jews' are keeping him from President Obama"

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