WASHINGTON (CNN) - A key figure in the contentious health care debate called for more bipartisan compromise Wednesday, putting her at odds with a growing chorus of dissent from conservative and liberal activists.
Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, the lone Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to vote for that panel's sweeping $829 billion proposal, said that a failure on the federal government's part to act soon would exacerbate a growing crisis.
Snowe's warning came as top Senate Democrats prepared to discuss ways to merge the Finance Committee's bill with legislation from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
(CNN) – More than two dozen of the nation's largest labor unions, a coalition that has previously been among the president's most solid bases of support, are taking out full page newspaper ads Wednesday to register their disapproval with the health care reform bill that has formally cleared the Senate Finance Committee.
Only hours after President Obama hailed the committee's passage of the measure as a "critical milestone," the union groups - which include the AFL-CIO and AFSCME - condemn the plan for lacking a public option and imposing stiff penalties on Americans who choose not get health insurance.
The unions also say employers should be required to pay a higher share of health insurance costs and that health care should not be financed by taxes on the most comprehensive health care policies known as "Cadillac plans."
"Unless the bill that goes to the floor of the U.S. Senate makes substantial progress to address the concerns of working men and women, we will oppose it," the ad states.
The ads are running in the Washington Post along with other D.C.-based papers.
(CNN)– President Obama is going coast to coast to help raise money for fellow Democrats.
The president will be the main attraction Thursday night in San Francisco at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. The dinner and reception at the Westin St. Francis hotel is expected to bring in around $3 million, according to a Democratic source.
Next week Obama heads north for another DNC fundraiser, scheduled to headline a top-dollar dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City on Tuesday, October 20, according to different Democratic source.
When it comes to campaign cash, the DNC trails its Republican counterpart. As of the beginning of September, the DNC reported $15 million cash on hand, with debt of more than $5 million. The Republican National Committee reported $21 million in the bank, as of September 1, with no debt. The DNC and RNC could release their September fundraising figures as early as Thursday.
The president is also the main attraction at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee joint fundraiser in Miami on October 26.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Vice President Al Gore is coming to Virginia on Friday to raise money for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, a campaign aide confirmed.
Gore will headline a fundraiser at a private home in McLean. At this point, however, Gore is not scheduled to make a public appearance with the Democratic hopeful.
The event comes one week after Deeds got fundraising help from the current vice president, Joe Biden.
President Obama has also campaigned and raised money for Deeds, but the White House is being cagey on whether the president will return to the commonwealth in the final three weeks before Election Day on November 3. But the Democratic National Committee launched a flurry of robocalls into Virginia on Tuesday asking Obama campaign supporters to help elect Deeds.
Deeds trails Republican Bob McDonnell in recent polls. Former GOP presidential nominee John McCain will hold a rally for McDonnell in Hampton Roads on Saturday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After holding its fire for much of the year while being criticized by members of Congress and administration officials, the insurance industry is now going on the attack.The industry's trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, has now hit the airwaves with a massive ad buy attacking the bill passed Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee.
"Most people agree we need to reform health care but is it right to ask 10 million seniors on Medicare Advantage for more than their fair share. Congress has proposed more than $100 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage," the ad states, referring to the private insurance plan offered by Medicare to some recipients.
The ad - which airing in Louisiana, Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania - does not mention specific legislators, but does ask viewers to "call your senators and tell them we need health care reform that protects seniors." The group will not say how much it is spending on the ad buy, but does say it is in the seven-figure range.
For its actions AHIP is drawing fire from critics since it had participated in talks for several months about how to achieve health care reform and had previously aired an ad supporting supporting the concept.
Earlier this week, the group released a controversial study it commissioned claiming the Senate Finance Committee bill would result in premium increases of up to $4,000 for a family. However, the study conducted by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers did not take into account some of the proposed subsidies that would be offered to low-income families to help them pay for insurance, and the firm has said such provisions would offset some of the impact it estimated.
(CNN) - Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has served in Congress for more than 30 years, but in recent months, she's become one of the most-watched lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Her colleagues on both sides of the aisle have courted her vote and anxiously waited to see whether she'd cross party lines on the health care legislation moving through the Senate.
On Tuesday, the Maine senator became the only Republican to vote in support of the Senate Finance Committee's 10-year, $829 billion proposal to remake the nation's health care system.
The proposal was the product of months of negotiations between the "Gang of Six" committee members: three Democrats and three Republicans. The other Republicans involved in the negotiations, Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, voted no on the compromise measure.
"You know, I didn't consciously set out to be the only Republican, interestingly enough," Snowe told CNN's "American Morning" on Wednesday. "It all developed as part of the bipartisan group that the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. [Max] Baucus, had convened four months ago to build bipartisan support for a bill. And it turned out I was the one remaining, along with the Democrats."
Snowe said that just because she voted yes on the committee plan doesn't mean she'll do the same for the final legislation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – After leaving the White House last year, George W. Bush has kept a low profile. He moved back to Texas and began writing his memoir. But on Tuesday, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone met with the former president. Bush said he just got a new BlackBerry. Stone, tweeting about his meeting, wondered if Bush will begin tweeting.
Someone has claimed the Twitter name @GeorgeWBush and added a photo, although there is currently no way to verify who is behind the account.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After an initial round of Internet mockery, the Republican National Committee has apparently decided to drop "What Up?" as the title of Michael Steele's blog on the newly revamped GOP.com.
One day after the rollout of the site, which crashed repeatedly throughout the day Wednesday and was ridiculed by Democrats and Republicans alike, Steele's blog is now called "Change the Game."
There's still only one post so far on the blog, a short entry that asks readers to answer the question, "Why are you a Republican?"
(CNN) - There is more evidence Wednesday that with 20 days until the November election, the battle for New Jersey's top job is a dead heat.
Forty percent of New Jersey likely voters questioned in a new Quinnipiac University poll say they back Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine, with 41 percent supporting Republican challenger Chris Christie. According to the survey, 12 percent say they'll vote for independent candidate Christopher Daggett.
Christie, the former federal prosecutor in New Jersey, held a four point lead over Corzine in Quinnipiac's poll from two weeks ago, with Daggett at 12 percent.
Two other surveys out over the last week, a Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll and Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey survey, also indicated that the New Jersey gubernatorial contest was all tied up.
The new Quinnipiac poll suggests that 76 percent of Democrats back Corzine, 83 percent of Republicans support Christie, and independents back Christie 45 to 32 percent, with 16 percent supporting Daggett.
(CNN) - One of the Republicans hoping to succeed California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger next year is claiming that the governor violated the state constitution by signing a bill recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages.
Former Rep. Tom Campbell supports same-sex marriage and disagreed with the successful ballot initiative, Proposition 8, that put in place a constitutional ban on such marriages in the state.
But he opposes elements of the bill Schwarzenegger signed on Sunday, SB 54, which recognizes same-sex marriages performed in states other than California before November 5, 2008, when voters approved Proposition 8.
In an e-mail to CNN, Campbell wrote that the ban on same-sex marriage can only be modified by amending the constitution, as Californians voted to do last year. Schwarzenegger's action, he argued, "constitutes an unconstitutional attempt to do this by legislation."