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Obama agenda: Good news from CBO

This hasn't gotten a lot of attention -- and, perhaps more importantly, it's from the CBO: "President Obama and his Democratic allies, scrambling to broker a health care deal Monday, finally got an upbeat assessment from Congress' official scorekeeper when it said the plan for government-run coverage would not force out private insurers. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer trumpeted the report from the Congressional Budget Office, Congress' nonpartisan budget analyst, that said private insurers could survive competition from a government health insurance option - contradicting a chief criticism from Republicans."

One advantage Obama has during August recess, Roll Call points out, is he will have the public square to frame the debate on health care all to himself. That's particularly true if he can sell specifics that could emerge from the House and Senate bills.

Video: NBC's Savannah Guthrie talks to NBC's Brian Williams about the status of the health care reform effort in Washington.

Politico proposes this idea: to have more benchmarks included in the health care reform, and if they aren't met, the debate gets reopened.

In non-health care news… Tapes were released in the Gates arrest, but "they leave unreconciled sharply divergent accounts of the incident offered by the two men," the Boston Globe writes.

Video: Henry Louis Gates Jr. and arresting officer James Crowley have agreed to meet with President Obama later this week as police release the initial 911 call from the controversial arrest. NBC's Ron Allen reports.

 The Hill: "Cabinet members said they could cut their budgets by almost $243 million over the next two years, responding to a call by President Obama to find savings in order to show a little fiscal responsibility. The agencies came up with a total of 77 proposals for savings through a variety of changes in government programs. Obama had asked his cabinet members to come up with $100 million in cuts for the fiscal year."

The AP: "The Obama administration will dole out $1 billion in aid to help cities and states keep police officers on the beat during the economic downturn -- but most of those who sought the help will be disappointed. The aid is just a fraction of what police departments across the country had hoped to get. For every $1 to be delivered, another $7 in requests will go unanswered under the grant program, Community Oriented Policing Services, commonly called COPS. Four major U.S. cities are finding this out the hard way: New York, Houston, Seattle and Pittsburgh are among those that will not get money because the Justice Department decided other parts of the country simply needed it more, according to government officials who spoke to The Associated Press."

Defense Secretary Gates is in Iraq. "Gates described the ground-level relationship with Iraq: 'Nobody's the boss or the occupier.'"