WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday the United States rejects any desire by Russia to exert its influence over Eastern Europe similarly to the Soviet Union of the past.
Responding to reported comments by Vice President Joe Biden that Russia was "clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable," Clinton told the NBC program "Meet the Press" that the United States wants Russia to play a positive role in international relations.
"We view Russia as a great power," Clinton said. "Every country faces challenges. We have challenges, Russia has challenges."
However, she said, the old ways are over.
"We are very clearly not saying that Russia can have a 21st century sphere of influence in Eastern Europe," Clinton said, calling that a "policy we reject."
Every Eastern European country has the right to join any alliance it wants, she said, referring to Russia's objections to former satellites such as Georgia trying to join NATO.
Asked whether she had any concern that Democrats could be punished in the 2010 midterm election the way the party was in 1994 after former President Bill Clinton tried and failed to achieve health care reform, Pelosi said things are different now.
“I think the American people want us to perform,” Pelosi said. “They need this. This is urgent. It's urgent in terms of their health, the economic stability of their families, and they want to see Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and a Democratic president in the White House to show that we can work together to have a positive impact on their lives by removing the instability that the uncertainty of access to health care causes for America’s families.”
“No, no, no, no,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union when asked whether she had softened her position on the public option.
“The president has said he believes the public option is a way - a way to keep the private insurance companies honest. But he said if you could find another way to do this, show it to me.”
Pelosi also rejected the idea of using a trigger to kick in a public option three to five years after passage of any health care reform bill.
“I think the private insurance industry has had a long enough time to have a trigger. We know what happens left to their own devices,” the California Democrat said.
“This is about having an alternative to give much more leverage to the individual. And the president has said if you like the insurance - insurance that you have, you like your doctor, you can keep it,” Pelosi also said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House has criticized the Congressional Budget Office's findings that the Obama administration's proposal to control Medicare costs would yield a moderate savings of $2 billion over the next decade.
White House Budget Director Peter Orszag said the CBO's analysis - which it relayed to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Saturday - could feed a perception of the office's bias toward "exaggerating costs and underestimating savings."
"The point of the proposal ... was never to generate savings over the next decade," Orszag said in a letter posted on Saturday.
"Instead the goal is to provide a mechanism for improving quality of care for beneficiaries and reducing costs over the long term."
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was met with a fairly warm reception at a picnic in Anchorage on Saturday, a day before she steps down as the state's governor.
Supporters displayed signs, including "Palin 2012" and "Palin, you're as great as Alaska." The few dissenters in the crowd said they wanted to come down and see what the hoopla was about.
Palin and Lt. Gov Sean Parnell, who will replace her, passed out burgers and hot dogs at the food line. Media and the crowd were kept at a distance, and were often pushed back by security officers and Palin's personal handlers.
The governor will transfer gubernatorial power to Parnell in Fairbanks on Sunday.
Follow CNN's Chris Welch (@cwelchCNN) as he tweets from Alaska.