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Robust Public Option Cuts Deficit, Could Be In Final House Bill

Dems aides say House public option bill to get even better CBO score. Official numbers may come today. CNN: "A preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office projects that the House Democrats' health care plan that includes a public option would cost $871 billion over 10 years ... This new CBO estimate, which aides caution is not final, is significantly less than the $1.1 trillion price tag of the original House bill that passed out of three committees this summer. More importantly, it comes under the $900 billion cap set by President Obama in his joint address to Congress last month."

Pelosi's "robust" public option would cut the deficit long-term, could get majority House backing. Bloomberg: " House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said health-care legislation being considered by her chamber would reduce the U.S. budget deficit over the next 20 years, meeting one of President Barack Obama’s main demands for the overhaul ... At a meeting last night, Pelosi exhorted members of the Democratic caucus to support the most 'robust' form of the public option, which links doctor reimbursements to low Medicare rates ... House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, a California Democrat, said supporters of that plan are 'very close' to getting the 218 votes needed for passage." Politico adds: "She asked Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to ask his deputies to survey members in the next 24 hours to see if she could get to 218 votes..."

House Dems consider re-branding "public option" as "Medicare" reports The Hill.

Ezra Klein reads Sen. Reid's lips: "'We’re leaning towards talking about a public option,' said Harry Reid at a press conference today ... This quote suggests that they're leaning towards figuring out the issue in negotiations rather than leaving it to the floor. That's a big win for public option advocates. If they get something in during negotiations, opponents will need to muster 60 votes to remove it on the floor."

Wonk Room posts Sen. Rockefeller's long list of concerns with Senate Finance bill which lacks public option.

President Obama urges supporters to be willing to compromise at NYC fundraiser. TPMDC: "'Sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies, Democrats are an opinionated bunch ... y'all are thinking for yourselves,' he said. 'I like that in you, but it's time for us to make sure that we finish the job here. We are this close and we've got to be unified.' Obama said 'the bill you least like in Congress right now, of the five that are out there,' would give 29 million uninsured Americans health care, would ban preexisting conditions and would create an exchange that would encourage competition among ensurers."

Organizing for America blew past its goal of 100,000 phone calls to Congress, breaking 300,000.

Taxing Expansive Insurance Plans Still Unpopular

USA Today/Gallup poll latest to register deep opposition to Baucus tax plan: "Six in 10 oppose a proposed tax on high-priced, 'Cadillac' insurance plans included in the Finance Committee's bill. But 59% support an income surtax on high-wage earners being pushed by House Democrats."

CQ on latest congressional analysis of tax impact: "More than 80 percent of the revenue from the Senate Finance Committee’s proposed excise tax on high-cost health insurance would be the result of income and payroll taxes on higher wages, according to an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) ... Backers of the excise tax can be expected to use the report to show that workers would benefit from higher incomes and not suffer as much as it seems from taxes on their health plans. But because that money would accrue to workers up and down the income scale, opponents of the tax can point to distributional-impact charts showing that middle class Americans would bear a significant chunk of the burden."

Republicans Attack Doctors, AARP

Leading Republicans criticize AARP for supporting health care reform. The Hill: "Republicans are accusing the AARP of a conflict of interest on Democratic efforts to reform healthcare, six years after Democrats accused the consumer advocacy group of ulterior motives when it endorsed a GOP-crafted Medicare prescription drug bill ... GOP Reps. Dave Reichert (Wash.), Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.) and Wally Herger (Calif.) are pressing the AARP to reveal how much money the group makes from selling its endorsement for various insurance products, including Medicare supplemental policies ... AARP officials adamantly deny accusations that the organization is motivated by money."

Sen. Bob Corker compares doctors to prostitutes. Knoxville News Sentinel: "'We all know the selling of one's body is one of the oldest businesses that has existed in the history of the world,' the Chattanooga Republican said in a speech on the Senate floor. The American Medical Association 'now is engaged in basically selling the support of its body by throwing future generations under the bus,' Corker said."

Senate struggling to pass AMA-backed doctor payment reform. NYT: "Republicans had other ideas, and so did some moderate and conservative Democrats. They said they could not swallow the Medicare bill because it would cost $247 billion over 10 years and none of the cost would be offset or paid for ... 'Republicans believe they can derail health care reform by defeating the doctor fix,” [Sen. Dick Durbin] said. 'That’s what this is all about.'"

Sen. Min. Leader McConnell tries to scrub off the obstructionist charge in USA Today op-ed: "The simple fact is, every Republican in Congress supports reform."

UN Ratches Down Climate Treaty Expectations

Top UN climate official now says full treaty won't be reached at Dec. meeting. AFP: "Yvo de Boer told the Financial Times newspaper that world leaders did not have enough time to agree on a legally binding treaty ahead of the crunch summit. 'A fully fledged new international treaty under the convention—I do not think that is going to happen,' said De Boer, referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 'If you look at the limited amount of time remaining to Copenhagen, that’s clear ... 'We have to focus on what can realistically be done and how that can realistically be framed.' That means reaching an 'overarching decision at Copenhagen that sets out individual targets for industrialized countries, that decides how major developing countries intended to engage [in curbing emissions by] 2020, and hopefully that puts that in the context of a long-term goal', he said."

President Obama to deliver climate speech Friday, kickstarting Senate work. ClimateWire: "Obama's speech in Cambridge, Mass., comes the same day that U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson plans to release the agency's economic and environmental analysis of the climate bill from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). With the EPA analysis in hand, Boxer is set to begin a three-day series of hearings in her Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday, Oct. 27 ... 'I think if Senator Boxer has her way, it'll be marked up before Thanksgiving,' [Sen. Ben] Cardin said. But he quickly added that Democratic leaders and other Senate committee chairmen could still scuttle that markup schedule..."

Climate Progress touts Saturday's worldwide rallies: "On Saturday, their day of global action, there will be at least 3,800 events and rallies and demonstrations in almost 170 countries. It’ll be one of the most widespread days of political action in the planet’s history. They’ve gotten plenty of coverage in the blogosphere, and in the foreign press ... But in the bigtime U.S. press? So far nothing much."

Obama Goes To Wall Street

At NYC fundraiser, the President challenges Wall Street to back reforms. Politico quotes: "When I hear some folks who have just been taking taxpayer bailout money suddenly saying, ‘What? What do you want from me?’; when I hear stories about small businesses and medium sized businesses not being able to get loans despite Wall Street being back very profitably that tells me that people aren’t thinking about their obligations, our mutual obligations to each other, the fact that we’re in this together."

Art Levine on the difficulty to fire up the progressive grassroots on policy specifics, in Alternet: "...the complex-yet-critical issue hasn't generated public interest, especially with so much effort focused on health reform: 'It's not easy explaining the differences between [swaps] exchanges and clearinghouses,' one activist complains about these arcane topics."

W. Post's Harold Meyerson calls Wall Street anti-free market: "So who's for competition and open exchanges? Who's for markets, instead of opaque products sold behind closed doors? Not big business, at least in the health-care and finance sectors. They've got few competitors and sell products for which consumers can't easily discern if they're paying a fair price. Why muck with that?"

Wonk Room reports conservatives trying to give banks veto power over consumer agency: "Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) explained that he supported the amendment because the health of a financial institution 'ought to trump' concerns regarding consumers, all of the time."

Auto dealers want exemption from new rules. CQ: "Consumer advocates are squaring off against auto dealers in a dispute over whether the dealers should be exempt from the powers of a proposed new Consumer Financial Protection Agency ... Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., previously rewrote the bill to include an exemption for auto dealers, but the industry contends that his language does not actually cover auto dealers or sales in which the buyer has obtained financing — the vast bulk of sales."

TARP's official watchdog slaps Treasury again on transparency. The Hill: "Neil Barofsky ... criticized the Treasury Department for failing to require banks to detail exactly how they are using the money. Barofsky also criticized the Treasury Department for not being more forthright about how and why it selected the first nine recipients of TARP money."

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