8 a.m. ET: The Senate doesn't leave town until Friday, but the battle lines for recess are already drawn: Republicans will attack Democrats' health-care plans, and Democrats will attack the insurance companies.
Nancy Pelosi got the ball rolling on the latter campaign Friday, saying of insurance companies: "Facts mean nothing to them. Mythology is their game. Misrepresentation is their currency of the realm, and we intend to set the record straight." Tell us what you really think, Madame Speaker. Politico wonders whether the industry will "commence a big, mean anti-reform counterattack — à la 1994’s 'Harry and Louise' ads." The broadsides against insurance companies and the overall reform debate, the Wall Street Journal reports, have "provided a big boost to lobbyists for health-industry interests," as insurance and drug companies have both upped their lobbying expenditures significantly even as the weak economy has depressed K Street overall.
As the Senate Finance Committee continues to inch toward consensus on reform, disarray within the majority party remains the dominant storyline this week. To explain the events of the last year or so, Financial Times reports on "one quip doing the rounds in Washington ... 'Republicans can’t get elected and Democrats can’t govern.'" Democrats from conservative and rural districts are in a tough spot over the break, the Los Angeles Times writes. Bloomberg describes Democrats' recess tasks as, in order: "trying to resolve discord within their party, fending off Republican attacks and taking on insurers." And the New York Times says Democrats' "August offensive" on health care "will feature town-hall-style meetings by lawmakers and the president, including a swing through Western states by Mr. Obama, grass-roots lobbying efforts and a blitz of expensive television advertising."
Elsewhere on the agenda, the Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is considering moving detainees from Guantanamo Bay to a maximum security prison in the U.S., perhaps in Kansas or Michigan. This issue has not lost any of its potency -- recall that in addition to health care, House Republican leaders also suggested that their members hammer away at Democrats on the subject of Guantanamo over the August break. In June, 52 percent of respondents in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll said they were opposed to Obama's planned closure of the prison.
The Senate takes up the "cash for clunkers" this week, after the House scrambled Friday to inject an additional $2 billion into the cash-strapped program Friday. Republicans plan to make Senate passage difficult, with John McCain and others pledging to filibuster the measure. (McCain also said the program was being abused by "speculators." How would that work?) Democrats say the fact that the program is out of money is evidence of its effectiveness. But effective or not, many conservatives consider the program to be corporate welfare. If the Senate doesn't act, the program could be canceled as early as Tuesday.
The Senate also has Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination set for floor action Tuesday. That she will be confirmed is clear, but it's unclear how many Republicans will cross the aisle to back the first-ever Hispanic justice. McCain, for example, said Sunday he was still undecided on the vote. Among Democrats, Max Baucus announced Friday he would back Sotomayor. And the Associated Press reports, "The National Rifle Association's threat to punish senators who vote ... Sotomayor has been met with a shrug by Democrats from conservative-leaning states."
Lastly, because it's always fun to end with Sarah Palin news, there are two items of interest about the former Alaska governor this morning. The first is an excerpt from Dan Balz's and Haynes Johnson's new book on the 2008 campaign, with this installment focused on McCain's selection of Palin as running mate. The second item comes from Huffington Post, which reports: "Sarah Palin's lawyer threatened to serve a blogger with libel papers at the kindergarten where he works for writing a post saying the former Alaska governor was getting divorced."
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