Your morning jolt: Hank Johnson gives himself some wiggle room

If politics is all about reading between the lines, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson’s remarks to WABE (90.1FM) on Thursday afternoon were double-spaced.

He left plenty of room for future maneuvering.

Reporter Denis O’Hayer reminded the DeKalb County congressman that, weeks earlier, he’d referred to the public option approach to health care reform as a “dealbreaker.” O’Hayer asked if that were still true. Johnson gave this yes-but reply:

Yes, it is. I do reserve the right to look at any bill that is arrived at through conference committee, to see whether or not it actually gets the job done. I want to wait and see what we call this animal which everyone knows now as the public option.”

In the same broadcast, O’Hayer interviewed U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell, the Republican surgeon.

Price accused President Barack Obama of delivering yet another “campaign speech” on Wednesday, but admitted his party and private industry have also failed to address the gaps in health care coverage. “It takes leadership on both sides of the aisle. We simply haven’t had that in the length of time this debate has occurred, literally for decades,” Price said.

Vice President Joe Biden is predicting a health care bill by Thanksgiving. Price said he thought it would take slightly longer. “I think we’ll have one by the end of the year,” he said.

Heads up. Much of the talk around Washington on Thursday was about U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and his “You lie!” outburst during Obama’s speech. U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) agreed that Wilson’s behavior was egregious, but said on MSNBC that Democrats bore some responsibility.

“He lost his cool, there’s no question about that. But you know, I wish they had given us — the Democratic leadership — a copy of the speech ahead of time, like they did the press, instead of just some talking points. I think he got caught off guard,” Gingrey said.

Politico and other news agencies report today that Wilson’s Democratic opponent, Iraqi veteran Rob Miller, has seen hundreds of thousands of campaign contributions in the last day:

“It’s a tremendous boost for this guy. He was already a credible candidate, and I think he can raise between $500,000 and $1 million that he never would have seen otherwise. Now you just keep your head down and let your opponent hang himself,” said Miller pollster John Anzalone, who represents many Democratic clients in Southern districts.

Wilson himself is getting into the fund-raising act with a YouTube clip on his campaign Web site. Wilson apologizes for his outburst, but also declares that, “On these issues I will not be muzzled. I will speak up and speak loudly against this risky plan.” Oh, and he asks for cash.

See it here:

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond says 69,869 laid-off workers filed first-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits in August, an increase of 18.2 percent over August 2008. The good news: That’s the lowest increase in more than 18 months.

“The pace of new layoffs is decelerating,” Thurmond said. “However, a rising number of laid-off workers are remaining unemployed longer.”

While you ponder that, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:

  • Two Georgia Marines killed in Afghanistan.
  • FDIC audit of FirstBank: Regulators too slow.
  • Once powerful South Georgia judge to plead guilty.
  • Georgians will be out in full force at government spending protest in D.C.
  • Kasim Reed says he’d block plan for ‘parallel Downtown Connector’.
  • Gwinnett County schools system sues over charter school’s funding.
  • Atlanta City Council weighs Dawson County reservoir proposal.
  • Forsyth County in top 10 counties with its high concentration of young and wealthy residents.
  • Fayette high school music teachers charged in sex-for-hire sting.
  • Some opinion:

  • Jim Wooten says the health care tab still too rich for him.
  • Jay Bookman says the GOP is condemning health care ideas it once embraced.
  • Fair health care now a privilege.
  • From elsewhere in Georgia:

  • ABC: NFL to rebroadcast blacked-out games on Net.
  • InsiderAdvantage: Wilson’s district a microcosm of health care problems.
  • And beyond:

  • WP: The gentleman from South Carolina.
  • NYT: Obama facing doubts within his own party on Afghanistan.
  • London Times: Thatcher told Gorbachev that Britain did not want German reunification.
  • For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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