REPUBLICANS FOR HEALTHCARE REFORM (SORT OF): With the White House freely admitting it has nudged them, a few well-known Republicans last week weighed in for the concept of health care reform — albeit with none of them endorsing a specific bill. Former Wisconsin Gov. and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, for example, signed a joint statement with former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (Mo.) praising the measure now before the Senate Finance Committee as “another important step toward achieving the goal of health care reform,” but also said there are “troubles and unresolved issues” in the bill. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a statement saying he appreciated President Obama’s “partnership with the states” on health care but did not endorse any measure before Congress. Former Senate GOP Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) told Time Magazine he would vote for the health bill before the Finance Committee were he still in office, but, a day later, qualified his remarks in an interview with ABC Radio. “I can’t really gather where Sen. Frist is,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi. “Somebody should ask him for an interview and see where he is today.”
BACHMANN ASKS PAWLENTY TO PROBE ACORN: Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R.-Minn.) remains relentless in her battle against corruption-riddled ACORN. Long in the forefront of efforts to deny the community-organizing colossus federal dollars and end its tax-exempt status, the two-term lawmaker last week called on Minnesota GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty to name a special inspector general to investigate ACORN and its state affiliates in Minnesota. In a letter to the governor, Bachmann pointed out that “there is more than ample evidence in press reports from 2008 that ACORN’s affiliates played an active role in the 2008 election in Minnesota.” Bachmann cited ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief’s statement that “ACORN’s sister organization Project Vote began operating what some would consider to be a national office out of Minnesota.” With the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporting that more than 43,000 Minnesotans were registered to vote by ACORN and Democrat Al Franken was declared the winner of the hotly disputed Senate race by only 215 votes after more than nine months of counting and recounting, conservatives are most anxious for Pawlenty to follow Bachmann’s request.
WHOSE ‘CULTURE OF CORRUPTION,’ NANCY? In 2006, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) denounced Republicans in Congress for a “culture of corruption” and vowed the highest ethical standards if Democrats won a majority in the House. Democrats did win in ’06, Pelosi has been speaker since, and the culture of corruption is more pervasive. The Justice Department is investigating a lobbying firm that has supported Rep. John Murtha (D.-Pa.) and for which he may have delivered multi-million-dollar earmarks. Rep. Pete Visclosky (D.-Ind.) has been subpoenaed in the investigation of the same lobbying firm, which has given him $1.4 million in donations over the past decade. Still another Democratic House member under federal probe is West Virginia’s Alan Mollohan, who allegedly bought real estate in partnership with a recipient of an earmark in his district. Last week, the New York Daily News reported that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel who has (D.-N.Y.) “failed to include on his [disclosure] forms money that he has in an IRA and in four mutual fund accounts, as well as the value of holdings in various corporations.” As noted at left, Rangel, the subject of many other apparent ethical violations, has yet to be removed from the chair of the tax-writing panel by Pelosi. He recently submitted new forms that doubled his reported net worth to $2.5 million.
DEMS DOWN, GOP UP ON AFGHAN SURGE: “Should President Obama decide to send more troops to Afghanistan, he will do so in the face of strong opposition from voters in his own party.” That conclusion by Clarus Research Group President Ron Faucheux came after the release of his firm’s nationwide poll last week showing that among Democratic voters, 61% want to decrease troop levels in Afghanistan and only 17% support sending more troops there. In contrast, Clarus showed, 54% of Republican voters and 47% of independents support deploying more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
HEALTHCARE REMINDER: That’s what the House Republican Study Committee sent out to the press and to House Democrats last week. “In light of public assertions that House Republicans have offered no solutions for healthcare reform,” wrote Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R.-Ga.), in distributing a full listing of health care solutions offered by members of the RSC. According to Price, himself a physician, the list now includes more than 40 bills that have been offered by RSC members this year alone. These range from H.R. 198, a bill by Florida’s Cliff Stearns to allow individuals to take a tax deduction from gross income for health insurance premiums and unreimbursed prescription drug expenses paid with tax dollars, to the TRICARE Continuity of Coverage for National Guard and Reserve Families Act, a bill by Ohio Rep. Bob Latta to allow retired National Guard members and reservists with more than 20 years of service to purchase the same health care that was available to them during their time on active duty or after they reach 60. (Currently, retired members of the Guard who are not yet 60 are not eligible for TRICARE health insurance.)