8 a.m. ET: Most times, regardless of which party is in control of Congress, the dynamic between the two chambers on major bills is the same -- in the House, the majority just rams a bill through, and then the real action and intrigue take place in the Senate. But this week, at least, the House is Ground Zero in the health-care fight, as Senate Democrats have already punted the issue into September while House Democrats struggle to reach consensus within their own ranks.
"When I take this bill to the floor, it will win," Nancy Pelosi said on CNN, without being more specific about the "when" part. At least some Democrats in her chamber would rather not vote before recess unless the Senate Finance Committee does first, and that panel's prospects for a deal remain unclear. President Obama plans more health-care events this week, hoping to keep the pressure on lawmakers as their month-long recess beckons. "August is both a peril and an opportunity,” Rahm Emanuel said last week, and the House's actions in the coming days will help determine which of those two descriptions proves apt.
On Saturday, House Democrats got some bad news from the Congressional Budget Office, which found that a proposal for an independent panel designed to rein in Medicare spending would only save $2 billion over 10 years. But then the CBO delivered some rare good news Sunday, judging that the House reform plan would actually increase the number of people who get employer-provided health insurance. This week, the idea du jour for raising money is taxing the most generous, or "gold-plated," health care plans.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, has come out against the House bill. While here's no ambiguity in that particular group's position, Roll Call writes, "Obama and his aides have repeatedly suggested that major health organizations are with them on health care reform, but an analysis of these groups’ positions suggests few are completely on board and several may oppose the president in the end."
What does all this mean for next year's elections? In a bold prediction, USA Today headlines, "Health Care Debate Could Affect 2010 Races." Conservative blogger Patrick Ruffini writes that 2010 "could be a big, big year" for the GOP, even a "blowout." CQ's latest analysis of competitive races found "Democrats appear secure in their House majority," though it did find -- naturally, given the results in 2006 and 2008 -- that Democrats are defending a lot more tough seats than Republicans are.
On foreign policy, it's time for another cleanup on Aisle 2, as Hillary Clinton used her appearance on "Meet the Press" Sunday to clarify Joe Biden's latest harsh comments on Russia. The Los Angeles Times says Clinton sought "to take the edge off Biden's recent remarks" after the vice president "roiled relations with Moscow by describing Russia [to the Wall Street Journal] as a country with a badly damaged economy, a fragile banking structure and a leadership that is 'clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable.'" Daniel Drezner worries the Russians will "take this kind of dumbass statement personally. ... The word 'stupid' has been thrown around a lot this week, but I think it applies pretty well to Biden's language."
Up in Alaska, the little-known governor, Sarah Palin, officially stepped down from office Sunday. "She exited office in classic Palin style," Dan Balz writes, which in this case means she took shots at liberals, Hollywood and the media. "How about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit makin' things up?" she said to the assembled reporters. (Or did she? Perhaps The Rundown fabricated that quote to defame the military.) One critic noted the irony that a governor of Alaska -- which arguably benefits from federal help more than any other state -- would warn against taking "government largesse." The Associated Press says Palin steps down amid "questions over her motives and next big move."
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