Archive for March, 2010

Mitt Romney and the changing tone of the GOP debate over health care

Anyone who wanted a look at the rapidly changing face of the health care debate had to go no farther than the packed chapel at Emory University on Tuesday night.

Its morphing countenance looks a lot like Mitt Romney, the once and future Republican presidential candidate, who that evening paid no attention to the maxim that one ought not to peak too early. Not a pew went unfilled.

Agendas crowded the chapel as well.

The official occasion was a book tour to peddle autographed volumes of “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.”

More informally, this was a reunion and refueling of Romney’s ’08 campaign team in Georgia. Team leaders sat on the front row. No book critics were in sight.

But this was also an opportunity for Romney to repackage Republican talking points for the post-passage debate over the new health care law.

Ten days after the history-making vote, GOP leaders are re-calculating where their message of “repeal and replace” will sell — and where it …

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Video opportunities for Thurbert Baker and Nathan Deal

Thurbert Baker’s Democratic campaign for governor has put out word that the Georgia attorney general will make one more MSNBC appearances this evening, courtesy of the Republican attempt to impeach him.

Your opportunity to see Baker on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” has already passed. We’ll hit you with a transcript in the morning. But Baker is also scheduled to be on “The Rachel Maddow Show” at 9 p.m., again laying out his argument for not mounting a legal challenge to the new health care law, as directed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

On the Republican front, Nathan Deal apparently thinks he did pretty well in front of a gaggle of reporters on Tuesday, defending himself against accusations from a U.S. House ethics committee. So well that his campaign for governor has posted the video – and is using the clips in a fund-raising e-mail.

Start your journey with the former congressman by clicking here.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Senate Democrats balk at hospital bed tax

On Monday, the Capitol was churning with news that House legislation containing the hospital bed tax had hit a glitch in the Senate.

Wrote Walter Jones with Morris News Service:

The Senate Finance Committee merged the House version of Perdue’s hospital tax with another bill nicknamed the JOBS Act that has a package of tax breaks for businesses. The committee also sweetened some of the tax breaks to resemble a version of the JOBS Act that Perdue vetoed last year.

The committee announced its 8 a.m. meeting Monday, when legislators were in recess, and said the agenda would be disclosed later. Only two Democrats serve on the committee, and witnesses say neither was present.

Senate staffers say the changes were needed to win enough votes for passage. The hospital tax isn’t popular with either party.

“We had to do some minor, technical amendments,” Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams told reporters Tuesday after the committee meeting.

The real problem is that Senate Democrats, …

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Your morning jolt: Romney notes ‘a number of similarities’ between his health care plan and Obama’s

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke Tuesday to a packed chapel at Emory University. John Bazemore/AP

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke Tuesday to a packed chapel at Emory University. John Bazemore/AP

Former and future Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed a packed chapel at Emory University on Tuesday evening.

Introduced by Gov. Sonny Perdue, who was not on his train in ‘08, Romney was the portrait of a man working at a post-candidacy pace – in slacks and a sport shirt.

Officially, this was one stop in a book tour – Romney was in Iowa on Monday. And in a 40 minute speech, the former Massachusetts governor declined to address the largest question dangling over him.

Which is, given the similarities between the health care system that he designed for his state, and the national system that President Barack Obama has embarked on, how will that shape a ‘12 bid for the White House.

But the topic was raised at once in a question-and-answer session by a medical student. “There are a number of similarities,” conceded Romney, who continued at length:

“We …

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House GOP lawmakers file bill of impeachment against Thurbert Baker

A House Republican on Tuesday filed a resolution to bring articles of impeachment against Attorney General Thurbert Baker, for his refusal to file a legal challenge to the new federal health care law – as directed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

State Rep. Mark Hatfield, sponsor of HR 1886, says Baker is bound by the state constitution to file legal at the request of the governor. Says the measure:

Attorney General Thurbert Baker. Ben Gray/AJC

Attorney General Thurbert Baker. Ben Gray/AJC

“By failing and refusing to perform his constitutional and statuatry duties, Attorney General Baker has abdicated his authority and has committed an act against the state of Georgia….

Attorney General Baker’s shameful abdication of his lawful duties shows him unfit to serve the state of Georgia in the position of attorney general.”

Hatfield said 30 other House members have also signed onto the bill of impeachment, all Republican. Baker is a Democratic candidate for governor.

With only nine days left in the legislative session, and a tremendous …

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Dead Marine’s dad ordered to pay protesters’ legal fees

If Democrats were smart, they’d set up an immediate fund for this father.

If Republicans were smart, they wouldn’t let Democrats beat them to it.

Here’s the take from the Associated Press:

BALTIMORE – The father of a Marine killed in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters from Kansas was ordered to pay the protesters’ appeal costs, his lawyers said Monday.

On Friday, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered Snyder to pay $16,510 to Fred Phelps. Phelps is the leader of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church, which conducted protests at Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder’s funeral in 2006.

The two-page decision supplied by attorneys for Albert Snyder of York, Pa., offered no details on how the court came to its decision.

Attorneys also said Snyder is struggling to come up with fees associated with filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision adds “insult to injury,” said Sean Summers, one of Snyder’s lawyers.

The high court agreed to consider …

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Your morning jolt: Obama says tea party movement built around people who don’t think he’s a citizen

This from the morning cycle of the Associated Press:

President Barack Obama says he believes the Tea Party is built around a “core group” of people who question whether he is a U.S. citizen and believe he is a socialist.

But beyond that, Obama tells NBC he recognizes the movement involves “folks who have legitimate concerns” about the national debt and whether the government is taking on too many difficult issues simultaneously.

In an interview broadcast Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show, Obama said he feels “there’s still going to be a group at their core that question my legitimacy.” But he said he didn’t want to paint Tea Party activists “in broad brushes” and he hopes to win over members who have “mainstream, legitimate concerns.”

In his own defense, U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal told investigators with the Office of Congressional Ethics that the allegations against him are rooted in the dynamics of the Republican campaign for governor.

The report, released Monday, can be found …

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Fallout from the Nathan Deal report: Casey Cagle may have some explaining to do

My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin filed this not long ago:

Nathan Deal far exceeded congressional limits on outside income and used his U.S. House office and staff to preserve a private stream of money coming from a no-bid state business deal, a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics has found.

The 138-page report, released Monday, is based on reporting from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from August that Deal and a business partner made hundreds of thousands of dollars from the business and that Deal used his congressional office to try and prevent state officials from making significant changes to it.

Says Deal campaign spokesman Harris Blackwood:

“This has always been a political witch hunt fueled by Democrats who fear that Roy Barnes will lose the governor’s race to Nathan Deal.

“In its own report, the Office of Congressional Ethics admits that its efforts were incomplete and it does not conclude that Mr. Deal did anything wrong. That’s because Nathan Deal …

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‘I nicked the census man.’ ‘There’s a good boy.’

We’re starting to see some worry that anti-Washington sentiment may be hurting conservative states in the census. This from the Houston Chronicle:

As of Friday afternoon, only 27 percent of Texas households had filled in and returned their census forms — well below the national average of 34 percent — according to computer data from the U.S. Census Bureau….

Contrary to historical trends, some of the toughest challenges facing the agency responsible for measuring the nation’s population are not from counting the traditionally undercounted groups such as African-Americans and Latinos. Instead, a new and growing threat to an accurate national head count is coming from anti-government conservatives who may not fill out their forms to protest against “Big Brother” in Washington.

“There’s a general distrust of the federal government at every level, starting with Congress and the president, all the way down to executive branch agencies,” says Rep. Mike Conaway, …

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Your morning jolt: Forced purchase of insurance? Not for Mennonites, say GOP lawmakers

It has been fashionable these last few weeks to draw a particular line in the sand.

“In this America that we all grew up in and love, forcing people to purchase things they don’t want to purchase, I think, violates a constitutional right that they have,” Gov. Sonny Perdue said last week.

So House Republicans on Friday must have had mixed emotions as they passed HB 656, a bill to exempt Mennonites in Georgia from a state law requiring the purchase of private automobile insurance.

On a federal level, the group has had itself exempted – on religious grounds – from Social Security and Medicare taxes.

At the close of an epic 30th day of the legislative session on Friday, the House failed to take up a measure to allow the formation of an independent Milton County out of north Fulton County. The movement didn’t have the votes.

HR 21 was sponsored by House Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of Alpharetta. Among the opponents were state Rep. Ed Lindsay (R-Atlanta).

Which prompted this …

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