WASHINGTON (CNN) – A new $12 million targeted television campaign was launched Thursday that is designed to provide "cover and support and credit" to members of Congress who back President Obama's approach to health care reform, a member of the coalition behind the ad tells CNN.
"Our view is that this is going to help all of them," Ron Pollack, executive director and vice president of Families USA, said of the lawmakers in the 12 states that are facing pressure on this issue. "We recognize that these are states where support of healthcare reform is going to be somewhat mixed. There will be some significant number [of people] saying 'yes' and some others saying 'no,'" to Democratic health care reform.
"We want to provide some cover and support and credit for these members when they support health care reform," Pollack added.
The 30-second ad, which does not mention lawmakers by name, is running for two weeks in 12 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia.
(CNN) - Rep. Steve Rothman, D-New Jersey, said at a meeting in Secaucus that the aim of health care reform is not to make America's system mimic Great Britain's or Canada's.
"I, for one, don't want a system like Great Britain's. I don't want a system like Canada's. I don't want national health care, and I don't want socialized medicine," he said.
Rothman said that any health care bill coming out of Congress has to "fix what needs to be fixed" but not "destroy what's good about the existing private health insurance system."
(CNN) - Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, at a town hall meeting Thursday in Muskogee, said he predicts much of the responsibility in controlling health care costs will fall upon patients.
Coburn, one of two doctors in the Senate, is against the current draft legislation in the House.
"If you want reform for reform's sake and it doesn't control the costs, what you are going to do is cut everybody's wages in this country because any dollar that goes into health care is a dollar that doesn't go into your pocket," he said.
He also called for "a true competitive market with transparency and access for everybody," adding: "There is a disconnect between the purchase of health care and the payment of health care, whether it's Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore in November, his spokesman said Thursday.
Obama will go to the meeting of the group, commonly called APEC, on November 14 and 15, and expects to visit other countries in the region on the same trip, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
No details were available on what other countries Obama would visit, Gibbs said.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Just how much is a rainmaker at a bailed-out bank really worth? Or a senior executive at a recently bankrupt automaker for that matter?
Such questions will soon be a subject of discussion at the White House as the biggest recipients of government aid begin submitting compensation plans for their top 100 employees to the Obama administration's recently appointed pay czar.
Seven companies - AIG, Chrysler, Citigroup, Chrysler Financial, Bank of America, General Motors and GMAC - are due to submit proposed employment contracts for their 25 highest-paid employees Friday. Compensation proposals for the next 75 most compensated employees are due by Oct. 13.
Kenneth Feinberg, the man charged with handling the task, is expected to rule on the first set of pay plans within the next 60 days. That information is due to be made public by Treasury sometime after, although any announcement may not include details of pay packages for individual employees.
Feinberg, a Washington attorney who first entered the public spotlight after overseeing compensation payments to September 11 victims, has already met with the seven firms to discuss some of the employee payment plans.
However, details of those talks have remained mostly under wraps, although there have been indications of a lot of back-and-forth between Feinberg's office and the institutions.
(CNN) - Town hall meetings are continuing Thursday, and more members of Congress will undoubtedly face an onslaught of tough questions - and maybe even some anger - about health care reform plans.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, will have three town hall meetings Thursday. Coburn, one of two doctors in the Senate, is against the current draft legislation in the House.
And to the north, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will also hold a series of meetings throughout the state. Grassley is one of six members of the Senate Finance Committee, which is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans.
Rep. Mike Ross, D-Arkansas, will have a town hall meeting later Thursday in his home state. The member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats has been a vocal critic of leadership in the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Also Thursday, Rep. Steve Rothman, D-New Jersey, will have a health care town hall meeting in Secaucus; Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, will have town halls in McPherson and Cottonwood; Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Wisconsin, will hold two town hall meetings in Oakfield; and Rep. David Wu, D-Oregon, will have a meeting in Seaside.
On Wednesday, Grassley got an earful from his constituents after holding four town meetings, welcoming what he called much larger crowds than such gatherings usually attract.
(CNN) - With Congress on its August recess, lawmakers are back in their home districts to meet with their constituents.
Across the country, members of Congress are holding town hall meetings where voters are encouraged to voice any questions or concerns about what's happening on Capitol Hill.
Health care reform has dominated the conversation at the meetings. President Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation this year, but lawmakers are hearing from their constituents that they want more specifics on what reform will mean for them.
In addition to taking questions, lawmakers are trying to set the record straight and put an end to the spread of misinformation.
Many town hall meetings are open to anyone. If you're interested in attending one, you're not alone. More than 70 percent of people say they are either very likely or somewhat likely to attend a town hall on health care, according to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey.
(CNN) – No one is ever going to accuse embattled South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford of backing down.
In an op-ed piece that appeared in newspapers across South Carolina Thursday and was also provided to CNN, Sanford defends his use of a state-owned aircraft after a recent newspaper report took issue with some of his official travel.
"I messed up and deserve my licks for it – but this doesn't give some in the media license to write as they please," the Republican governor wrote. "Anyone with a busy and intertwined life can be made to look foolish if one ignores the larger context of travel within the state."
Citing a review of records earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that Sanford had used state aircraft for personal and political purposes, sometimes bringing his wife and children along with him. These uses violated South Carolina law, according to the AP.
In his response, Sanford wrote that he has flown far fewer hours on state-owned aircraft than previous South Carolina governors. "When measuring four year terms, Governor Campbell flew 451.6 hours, Governor Beasley flew 303.17 hours and Governor Hodges flew 310.06 hours, while I flew 228.95 hours," wrote Sanford. And the seven flight hours at issue represent "two percent of the total flight hours taken," the embattled governor wrote.
MONROVIA, Liberia (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived Thursday in a dark and rainy Liberia, where she planned to hold a bilateral meeting with the country's pro-American president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Liberians have a historic fondness for Americans and view Clinton's visit as a show of support and affirmation of the special relationship between Liberia and the United States, said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to Liberia.
"Women in Liberia are pleased to welcome the secretary for her meeting with the first woman elected head of state in Africa, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf," Thomas-Greenfield wrote in a State Department blog. "After the ravages of the conflict here, which affected women and children very heavily, Liberians are proud of their progress in women's empowerment and inclusion in government. Secretary Clinton has emphasized the link between women's empowerment and social and economic progress throughout her seven-nation trip."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Federal officials will travel to Standish, Michigan, on Thursday to tour a state prison that could be used to house terror suspects detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. government officials said Wednesday.
Among those who will check out the facility, the officials said, will be representatives from the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons.
One administration official stressed no decision has been made about where to relocate Guantanamo detainees. Multiple options are under consideration. That official added Thursday's visit is simply to gather information about the prison.