1. Sen Kent Conrad, (D-ND), the chairman of the budget committee, said that reconciliation for health care reform wouldn't work very well. (He acknowledged that it was an "option.") He repeated his contention that Democrats lacked 60 votes for a public option. "It is very unlikely that the health care bill will be split in two," he said on Face the Nation. On Meet the Press, Sen, Chuck Schumer called the public option "essential" for health insurance reform.
2. On CNN's State of the Nation with John King, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), suggested the President Obama put health care on the backburner for now and wait until the recession ends before trying to achieve universal coverage. Lieberman wants to postpone the coverage extension and pass a bill with the insurance reforms.
3. Sen John McCain praised President Obama's approach to Iraq and Afghanistan, but he said he worried that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's ability to propose troop increases would be stifled by public pressure. He said that Sen. Susan Collins's blog post about potential troops increases -- (a low-risk 15,000 more; medium risk 25,000 more; high-risk 45,000 more) had jeopardized McChrystal's decision-making process. (Admiral Mike Mullen insisted that McChrystal hadn't yet asked for any more troops.)
4. Sen. Orrin Hatch incorrectly claimed that reconciliation had been rarely used, and Meet the Press's David Gregory found that Hatch misstated the number of people that the Congressional Budget Office claims would move to a public option if it were part of the bill. Sen. Grassley now admits that there are no death panels in the health care bill but defended his words on the subject because he said he needed to educate his constituents. McCain called Sarah Palin's death panel interpretation legitimate.
5. U.S. policymakers seemed to be in no mood to describe the Afghanistan election as anything other than a success. And U.S. policymakers and generals seemed to have trouble describing our national interest in the region.
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