Who is framing the “Cadillac-plan” debate?
By erin  •  Jul 31, 2009 at 10:19 EST

If you’ve turned on the TV this morning you know the networks can’t stop talking about “gold-plated Cadillac plans,” insurance coverage that costs upwards of $10,000 more than the national average.

Senator Kerry has proposed taxing the insurance companies that offer them in order to raise money for universal health coverage. The New York Times reported earlier this week that Kerry’s proposal has thus far received favorable reviews from many congressional leaders, including the wishy-washy Max Baucus.

Yet most other news outlets are telling another story. They have chosen to highlight the detrimental effects of Kerry’s proposal for the middle class and union workers and question it’s ability to raise sufficient funds. Problem is, the stories published by a variety of news outlets (think everyone from FOX News to NPR) all feature the same main characters. And most have ties to health insurance companies.

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Your president drinks Bud Light
By Ellen Przepasniak  •  Jul 31, 2009 at 06:02 EST

President Obama and Vice President Biden have beers with Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge police officer who arrested him. (NYT)

Cash for Clunkers program is suspended after it runs out of funds, but Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says it will honor backlogged requests. (WSJ)

A report sent out by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reveals nine of the financial firms on the bailout list paid out employee bonuses in 2008. (NYT)

Representatives Barney Frank and Collin Peterson lead a House bill that more heavily regulates the derivatives market. (Reuters)

Chair of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus says the panel will meet as long as they can to discuss health care reform, but will not be ready until after the August recess. (WSJ)

Sen. Carl Levin Issues Subpoena to Goldman Sachs
By kyle  •  Jul 30, 2009 at 10:09 EST

After an extended period of blog lethargy, I’m making my debut on Eyes on the Ties today in order to announce a LittleSis research project: we’re working to develop a comprehensive list of all the connections between Goldman Sachs executives and influential government officials and lobbyists.

Serendipitously (or perhaps not), Senator Carl Levin has also made an announcement today: namely, that the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has subpoenaed Goldman Sachs in order to comb for evidence of fraud during last year’s mortgage-market meltdown. The Daily Kos blog team was the first to pick up the story: Read more…

More health care lobbyists with congressional ties unearthed, search now expanded
By erin  •  Jul 30, 2009 at 08:44 EST

A few weeks ago, we set out to build a list of congressional-staffers-turned-health care lobbyists. With the help of some incredible citizen journalists at the Huffington Post Investigative Unit, our list of lobbyists has grown exponentially this week. Here are a few trends we’ve found thus far.

Where they work
Three lobbying firms have acquired a good number of staffers who have worked in congressional offices with close ties to the health care industry. For example, Cassidy & Associates employs former Olympia Snowe staffer Arran Haynes and Mehlman, Vogel & Castagnetti has picked up Chuck Grassley’s former health policy aid Colette DesmaraisGreenberg Traurig has also acquired a good number of folks who have worked on the Hill.  These firms represent companies including AHIP, Humana and Community Health Systems. Having Hill heavyweights on their staff sure has made these firms attractive picks for the health care industry.

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Senate to probe Goldman, Deutsche for mortgage fraud
By Ellen Przepasniak  •  Jul 30, 2009 at 06:26 EST

The Senate will form a panel, headed by Carl Levin, to probe Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank on charges of mortgage fraud in 2008. (Reuters)

Rahm Emanuel‘s meeting worked, as four of seven Blue Dogs compromised on health reform, as concessions were made to cut cost and wait on the final vote until September to gather public opinion. (NYT)

But a poll finds Obama‘s health care plan isn’t garnering as much support as he hoped. (Reuters)

The trial of former Louisiana Representative William J. Jefferson, who is charged with bribery, begins today. (NYT)

Chairman of IBM Samuel Palmisano has been meeting with governments worldwide to promote the use of technology, and no doubt, boost his business. (WSJ)

Emanuel courts opposition to meet August health care deadline
By Ellen Przepasniak  •  Jul 29, 2009 at 06:06 EST

In an effort to push through his boss’ health care bill before August, Rahm Emanuel held a six-hour meeting with the Blue Dogs, fiscally conservative Democrats who want to hold up reform until the end of the year. (NYT)

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sonia Sotomayor unanimously and she’ll now be sent to the full Senate for approval. (WSJ)

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke clashes with Congress over a proposed House bill that would audit top financial institutions. (Bloomberg)

Financial disclosure forms reveal Bernanke’s personal assets down from last year, along with those of Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn and top Fed governors. (WSJ)

Nearly a month late, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a balanced budget. (Reuters)

Six at the table, how many in the room?
By Kevin Connor  •  Jul 28, 2009 at 10:29 EST

Six centrist Senators got some attention from the New York Times today for their role in shaping health care reform. Never mind that the room is small and the “debate” couldn’t be framed more narrowly; Senator Olympia Snowe tells us that Max Baucus, the ringleader, is “very inclusive.”

The story includes an annotated photograph of the negotiations in process:

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CBO report says public and private insurance can coexist
By Ellen Przepasniak  •  Jul 28, 2009 at 06:14 EST

House Dems are using a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis that says both public and private insurance options can work to boost support for their health care bill. (Reuters)

In what promises to be the world’s most awkward meeting, President Obama will meet with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge police officer who arrested him next week. (Bloomberg)

Two Republican Senators, Jeff Sessions and Chuck Grassley, have announced they will vote against Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. (NYT)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits Iraq and declares the withdrawal to be going well. (Reuters)

Reagan-era economic adviser Martin Feldstein speaks out against Obama’s health care plan. (WaPo)

Blue Dogs hold up health care
By Ellen Przepasniak  •  Jul 27, 2009 at 06:19 EST

A small group of fiscally conservative Democrats, led by Jim Cooper from Tennessee, continue to resist health reform. (WSJ)

SEIU President Andrew Stern throws the support of the nation’s largest union behind Obama’s health care legislation, but top supporters of the plan say the Blue Dogs won’t make a difference when it comes up to a vote. (WSJ)

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke goes on a PR blitz to change the Fed’s image into an ally of the people. (NYT)

Senator Chuck Schumer is pressing the SEC to ban “flash orders” on Wall Street. (Bloomberg)

Kenneth Feinberg, Treasury pay czar, is pushing to renegotiate contracts with top execs from bailout firms. (WSJ)

Mediator Summers?
By Kevin Connor  •  Jul 26, 2009 at 07:33 EST

Yesterday the New York Times reported that Christine Varney, the new antitrust chief at Justice, was running into resistance as she attempted to do her job (frowned upon in the halls of power).

The most significant dispute appears to have occurred between her and the Transportation Department, which approved an “antitrust immunity request” against Varney’s recommendations. The article noted that Transportation “endorsed a policy popular during the Bush administration that favored such industry agreements out of a desire for efficiency.”

How did they attempt to resolve this dispute? Naturally, they called in a mediator with a record of aggressively steamrolling opposition and blundering his way through all matters interpersonal:

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