In it, but not of it. TPM DC

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had some fun with the House Republicans' detail-free budget alternative during his on-camera briefing with reporters today:



QUESTION: ... House Republicans unveiled what they described today as their alternative to the president's budget. I wonder if anyone here has had a chance to brief you on that on -- if you're aware that it doesn't actually contain any numbers.

GIBBS: I did -- I -- it took me several minutes to read it. (LAUGHTER) I will note that ... there's one more picture of a windmill than there is of a chart of numbers. There's -- just for your knowledge, there's exactly one picture of a windmill.

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CNN reports that former McCain/Palin staffers are now very unhappy with Sarah Palin and her latest antic: Declaring at an Alaska GOP dinner last week that none of her staffers had been the sort of people she would want to pray with.

Palin told an anecdote of her final preparations before her debate with Joe Biden. Check out the 4:00 mark here:



"So I'm looking around for somebody to pray with, I just need maybe a little help, maybe a little extra," said Palin. "And the McCain campaign, love 'em, you know, they're a lot of people around me, but nobody I could find that I wanted to hold hands with and pray."

One anonymous staffer expressed his outrage to CNN. "It's about us people who were on the plane, who showed extreme loyalty to Palin, continually getting thrown under the bus or slapped in the face by her comments, whether she means it or not," the staffer said, adding that this is the kind of thing that would "cause you to question not only your loyalty but her judgment as a leader."

This whole thing might have gone unnoticed, but for one thing: The Alaska GOP has posted the entire speech on YouTube.

Uh-oh, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) ... it looks like Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may just ignore your warning not to play "hide the reconciliation ball" during the upcoming congressional budget talks.

Reid told reporters earlier today that he would not rule out using "reconciliation" language to shield health care reform from a Republican filibuster later this year. Roll Call reports the Democratic leader's response: "Let's see what happens in the next three weeks, in the next month ... We need to do health care, and we are going to do health care."

For those of you who are just getting up to speed on the budget debate, here's a quick recap:

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Organized labor is now making a big push for Democratic candidate Scott Murphy in the home stretch of the special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat.

SEIU local 1199 has now launched this ad, attacking GOP candidate Jim Tedisco for opposing the stimulus bill, praising Murphy for supporting it -- and making sure to remind viewers that President Obama endorses Murphy:



According to the latest FEC filing, SEIU 1199's political action fund is spending $75,000 on this ad buy.

Financial executives have spent so much time testifying before Congress these days that earlier this week, The Hill offered CEOs a Dos-and-Don'ts guide to staying on lawmakers' good side. Something tells me that the good folks at the Security Traders Association of New York (STANY) haven't read it.

In a letter to the Senate Banking Committee today, the STANY offers a hilariously hyperbolic plea for rejection of the 90% tax on bailout bonuses that the House passed last week. You can read the full letter right here, but here are some key passages ...

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MSNBC's Contessa Brewer had much the same reaction to the House GOP's alternative budget as did our own Elana Schor. "Where's the beef?" She sounded off in what her co-anchor called a "rant", but what might have better been described as an accurate assessment of the Republicans' budgetless budget.

Nouriel Roubini has weighed in. So have Simon Johnson, Brad DeLong, and Paul Krugman.

Now you, the taxpayers, are being asked for your comments on the government's new bank rescue plan -- not by the Treasury Department, but by the FDIC. Are you disturbed by the re-branding of toxic mortgage-backed securities as "legacy assets"? Are you ready to get past this bonuses business and put your trust in the Obama administration? Here's the link to submit your reaction in detail.

The full release on the public comment period is posted after the jump.

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In a new op-ed piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rick Santorum makes a certain message pretty clear, doing everything except coming right out and saying it: He won't be supporting Arlen Specter against his right-wing primary challengers this cycle.

Santorum refers to Specter as a "political Houdini" who tacks right during a primary, explaining his newfound opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, while also supporting the big-spending stimulus bill. And Santorum remembers how Specter tried to recruit a moderate to run in the GOP Senate primary in 1994, to oppose a right-wing Congressman who was in the race -- Rick Santorum.

And check out this final portion:

In 2004, President Bush and a Senate colleague from Western Pennsylvania made the difference for Specter. Those dogs don't hunt anymore. This year, his help may come from Peg Luksic, Larry Murphy, and anyone else who helps split up the vote next spring - anyone other than Pat Toomey, that is.

It will be fun to watch. And watch I will.


Just to make it absolutely clear, Santorum was referring to himself when he mentioned "a Senate colleague from Western Pennsylvania" who made the difference for Specter in the 2004 primary -- and that dog doesn't hunt anymore.

(Via Phil Singer.)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was in fine flip-flopping form during a speech today at the Heritage Foundation, as the Washington Independent reports.

"The problem started when we bailed out AIG," McCain told the conservative crowd at Heritage. "I would have let AIG go bankrupt. If they have to fail, they fail."

It's been well-noted in the blogosphere that McCain originally supported bailing out AIG in September, when his presidential run was in its, er, last throes. But what's most interesting, per the Independent, is that McCain came out against "controlling the salaries and bonuses of TARP-taking executives."

But I thought McCain wanted to let AIG fail exactly because that would deny bonuses to "greedy execs"! He told us so on his Twitter feed!* Sounds like it's time for some Straight Talk TM on AIG executives: Do we let the company fail to deny them bonuses, or let the company fail and make no attempt to prevent them from grabbing bonuses on their way out?

*This is the first and last time Twitter will appear in any of my posts.

This might not look too good for Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat in the special election this Tuesday.

A few days ago, the DCCC launched an attack ad against Tedisco for having written a letter to a judge in 2003, requesting leniency for a mortgage executive who pled guilty in a corporate corruption case.

The Albany Times Union reported at the time (via Nexis) that there were two notable people who wrote letters -- Tedisco, and a major state lobbyist named James Featherstonhaugh. Today's FEC filings show that Tedisco has just received yesterday a maximum donation of $2,400 from...James Featherstonhaugh.

Keep in mind that Tedisco and the GOP have been attacking Democratic candidate Scott Murphy, a businessman, as being one of a kind with the corrupt Wall Street leaders who gave us the AIG bonuses. So taking a maxed-out donation from a lobbyist who asked for leniency in a corporate crime case -- which Tedisco also asked for -- does kind of undercut the message.

The Tedisco campaign has not responded to a request for comment.

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