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Politics Today: Obama Pitches Health Care Plan

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

** President Obama pitches health care reform to doctors today; American Medical Association not sold on his plan...

**Vice President Biden: "real doubt" about legitimacy of Iranian election outcome...

**Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu backs Palestinian state...

5081377PRESIDENT OBAMA: The president heads to Chicago today to speak to a skeptical American Medical Association as he continues selling his health care reform plan. The doctors' hangup? The proposed government-run option - a hangup shared by many in Congress as well.

"Given its historic resistance to major reform efforts, the AMA would be a tough crowd under normal circumstances. But in pushing the public plan, Obama is looking to persuade a constituency already distrustful of the government's role in health care that a government insurance program won't be as objectionable as they imagine," reports Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown.

"'The president will be clear about what a public option does and doesn't mean for patients, physicians, and our broader health care system,' according to an outline of the speech provided Sunday by the administration.

"Last week, the AMA came out against the most liberal form of a public plan - one that would pay Medicare rates and require doctors to participate. The AMA considers Medicare a broken system, and would oppose efforts to expand it. But the group said it remains open to an insurance option that was not run by the government. The group has been participating in the talks on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Although the AMA is not considered as powerful on the Hill as it once was, supporters of Obama's reform effort view physicians as key 'validators' with the ability to influence voters on the grassroots level."

"Government-run health insurance has become one of the most contentious ideas in the debate as Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, try to move legislation through the Senate this summer," writes USA Today's John Fritze.

"More details about public insurance and how lawmakers intend to pay for overhauling the health care system, which could cost more than $1 trillion, are likely to emerge this week when the Senate Finance Committee releases a draft bill. To ease concerns about cost, Obama said Saturday the administration could squeeze $313 billion in savings out of Medicare and Medicaid over the next decade."

"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Barack Obama's plan to include government-backed health insurance for the public is a 'non-starter' for most Republicans considering health care reform," writes's Michelle Levi.

"Appearing on CBS' Face The Nation Sunday, McConnell told host Bob Schieffer that Mr. Obama's plan for a government health insurance plan would essentially crowd out other insurers from the private market, eliminating competition. 'We can make incredible improvements in American health care, but I don't think having more government — in effect putting Washington between you and your doctor — is the way to go.'"

Meantime, the group Americans United for Change, supporters of the president's plan, is airing a TV ad beginning today calling on Congressional Republicans to get on board. "In the Senate, they call sixty percent support a 'super' majority. A new poll shows sixty-two percent of Americans support the President's plan to reform health care," the ad says.

"That means lowering costs, so everyone has access to quality, affordable care. Protecting your choice of doctor. Letting you choose between keeping the private insurance you have, and a public health insurance plan. So if the Republicans in Congress ignore what sixty-two percent of support, you gotta wonder: Who are they listening to?"

The Associated Press' Philip Elliot reports this morning that there may be a compromise in the works.

"With Republicans fighting the idea of a government-run health insurance plan, members of President Barack Obama's team said Sunday that they are open to a compromise: a cooperative program that would expand coverage with taxpayer money but without direct governmental control," writes Elliot.

"The concessions could be the smoothest way to deliver the bipartisan health care legislation the administration seeks by its self-imposed August deadline, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. 'There is no one-size-fits-all idea,' she said. 'The president has said, 'These are the kinds of goals I'm after: lowering costs, covering all Americans, higher-quality care.' And around those goals, there are lots of ways to get there.'"

"Health care legislation will dominate the agenda in Congress this week, with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee scheduled to begin detailed work on its bill at a hearing on Tuesday afternoon," adds the New York Times' David M. Herszenhorn.

"But the more highly anticipated development comes later in the week when the Senate Finance Committee is expected to release its outline of a similar measure to revamp the nation's health care system. If a bipartisan deal can be reached on health care, the Finance Committee bill is likely to be the foundation of it. And the reaction by Republicans to the outline being developed by the committee chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, will provide a strong indicator of where things are headed."

PAYING FOR HEALTH CARE: As to how to pay for health care reform, the Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Ceci Connolly report that Democrats are split.

5013485"The White House is caught in a battle within its own party over how to finance a comprehensive overhaul of America's health-care system, as key Democrats advocate a tax plan that could require President Obama to break his campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.

"Sensitive to voter anxiety about a soaring federal deficit, Obama and congressional leaders have vowed to pay for a sweeping expansion of the health-care system -- expected to cost more than $1 trillion over the next decade -- without additional borrowing."

"The Senate Finance Committee, looking for ways to pay for health reforms, has been considering the possibility of attaching a federal excise tax for the first time to soda and other drinks sweetened with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners. Increasing the taxes on alcoholic beverages has also been on the congressional table," adds USA Today's Nancy Hellmich.

"It seems unlikely that these ideas will make it into the health-care legislation that Congress will tackle this year. In an interview with CNBC, committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said they're 'on life support.' Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, described them as 'nuisance taxes.'"

Wall Street Journal's Janet Adamy and Jonathan D. Rockoff, "Hospital Industry Bristles at Cuts"

New York Times' Jackie Calmes, "Many in Congress Hold Stakes in Health Industry"

IRANIAN ELECTIONS: "Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. cast doubt Sunday on the legitimacy of the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, but reaffirmed the administration's intent to try to engage the Iranian government," reports the New York Times' Eric Schmitt.

"'It sure looks like the way they're suppressing speech, the way they're suppressing crowds, the way in which people are being treated, that there's some real doubt' about the result, Mr. Biden said.

"But the vice president made clear that despite the uncertainty surrounding Mr. Ahmadinejad's contested victory, the United States would not abandon its Iran policy. 'The decision has been made to talk,' Mr. Biden said on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' 'Our interests are the same before the election as after the election, and that is we want them to cease and desist from seeking a nuclear weapon and having one in its possession and, secondly, to stop supporting terror.' Mr. Biden, as the administration's spokesman on Sunday, was caught in an awkward position that was echoed in comments by the United States' negotiating partners in Europe: not wanting to legitimize the election results, while acknowledging that Western governments were still trying to figure out what exactly happened in the vote."

"The contested election results put the Obama administration in a deepening bind on an issue that is one of the most important foreign policy matters facing the White House," writes the Boston Globe's Michael Kranish.

"President Obama had called for an effort to renew ties between the countries, and his administration had hopes that Ahmadinejad's main rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, would triumph. But with Ahmadinejad claiming victory and Mousavi yesterday calling for the result to be annulled, the Obama administration tried to avoid taking sides."

"The confused aftermath of Iran's presidential election is complicating the Obama administration's planned outreach to the Islamic republic and underscoring the challenges facing the president's new approach to the Middle East based on shared values and common interests," adds the Washington Post's Scott Wilson.

5088433"The administration has remained as quiet as possible during the Iranian election season and in the days of street protests since Friday's vote. Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been declared the winner over his more reform-minded opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, by a margin that opposition supporters have found impossible to believe. ...

"The cautious response illustrates the balance that the Obama administration is seeking between condemning what increasingly appears to be a fraudulent election and the likelihood that it will be dealing with Ahmadinejad after the dust settles. The measured tone and approach stand in contrast to some of the Bush administration's reactions to democratic challenges abroad."

(AP Photo/Baz Ratner)
ISRAEL: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel cannot live side by side with a new Palestinian state if it must continually be in fear of attack. But Netanyahu repeated in a nationally broadcast interview his groundbreaking statement saying that he would accept a Palestinian state," reports the Associated Press.

"But at the same time, he told NBC's 'Today' show in an interview from Jerusalem that it would have to be a demilitarized state. On the issue of further Jewish settlements in territory the Palestinians wish to claim as their own in a new state, Netanyahu said 'I think I made it also clear that I would not build new settlements.' He said that he and President Barack Obama are trying to resolve that issue. Netanyahu said his vision is of separate Jewish and Palestinian states, living side by side in harmony, 'not enmity.'"

Netanyahu "on Sunday endorsed for the first time the principle of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but on condition that the state was demilitarized and that the Palestinians recognized Israel as the state of the Jewish people," reports the New York Times' Isabel Kershner.

"In a much-anticipated speech ... Mr. Netanyahu reversed his longstanding opposition to Palestinian statehood, a move seen as a concession to American pressure. But he firmly rejected American demands for a complete freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the subject of a rare public dispute between Israel and its most important ally on an issue seen as critical to peace negotiations. And even his assent on Palestinian statehood, given the caveats, was immediately rejected as a nonstarter by Palestinians. ...

"Mr. Netanyahu, the leader of the conservative Likud Party, laid out what he called his 'vision of peace': 'In this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other.' But Mr. Netanyahu insisted on 'ironclad' guarantees from the United States and the international community for Palestinian demilitarization and recognition of Israel's Jewish character.

FOR MORE ON IRAN AND ISRAEL: Watch's "Washington Unplugged" - now live at 12:30 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. On today's Webcast, CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer will have the latest from Iran. Then, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley and Karim Sadjadpour from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will discuss the Iranian elections and Netanyahu's speech.

ALSO TODAY: Following the president's 12:15 p.m. ET remarks to the AMA in Chicago, he returns to Washington for a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

First Lady Michelle Obama kicks off a new White House music series today as students will join her for classes led by legendary jazz musicians, including Wynton, Branford and Ellis Marsalis. Following the classes, she'll host a concert featuring jazz musicians Paquito D'Rivera and Tony Madruga. Later this year, the series continues with classical and country artists.


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