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PW logo Dodd, Conrad Were Told of Sweetheart Deals Bunning Calls it Quits
Palin's Legacy Is Maloney Reconsidering Challenge?
Ensign Still Doing Damage Control Biden's Approval Rate Remains High

News from the Votemaster

Bunning Quits     Permalink

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) has thrown in the towel. His direct colleague, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has been doing everything in his power to get Bunning to retire and has finally succeeded. Bunning won't run for reelection in 2010. The likely Republican candidate will be Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. The Democrats are probably going to have a primary between Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and Attorney General Jack Conway. No matter who wins the primary, Grayson is probably the favorite simply because the state is relatively red.

Maloney May Not Run Against Gillibrand     Permalink

Despite an announcement last week that Rep. Carolyn Maloney would announce her candidacy for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat this week, her staff now says no such announcement is forthcoming right now. Maloney is under tremendous pressure from the entire Democratic establishment not to run against appointed senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in a primary. President Obama has said that if she runs, he will personally campaign for Gillibrand. The Democrats really don't want an expensive and divisive primary and the pressure may be getting to Maloney.

AP: Senate Finance Committee Rejects Public Option     Permalink

The AP is reporting that the Senate Finance Committee has reached agreement on a health-care reform bill that does not include a government-run public option. However, it does include the creation of a network of co-ops that would compete with private companies. The key idea here is to make sure these co-ops do not evolve into a single-payer system. The bill would prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, however. Such a bill might get most of the conservative Democrats on board and maybe even one or two Republicans. However, this AP report has not been confirmed and might be a trial balloon to judge the reaction.

The main problem with a network of state co-ops is that they would probably be too small to be viable and would certainly be too small to negotiate good deals with health care providers and drug manufacturers. The authors of the bill consider this a feature rather than a bug since a government plan or a single national co-op would drive a hard bargain and reduce health-industry profits. The proposed bill would tax gold-plated employer-supplied health plans to raise revenue to pay for insurance for poor people.

Another aspect of the plan is that it would not require any employers to provide health insurance for their employees. As a consequence, many employers might drop existing health plans, leaving employees to fend for themselves.

The bill written by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is quite different and the two would have to be reconciled. And of course, the final product would have to be reconciled with the final House bill. Progress on that bill stalled Friday when the blue dogs balked at the cost of the plan. Negotiations will continue today. But majority leader Steny Hoyer said a vote before Friday is not in the cards.

Governor Patrick in Trouble     Permalink

A new University of New Hampshire poll shows that only 35% approve of the job he is doing while 56% disapprove. Clearly this is a ominous sign for him in next year's gubernatorial election. But Massachusetts is a very Democratic state and the Republicans do not have a strong candidate yet.

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