In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The latest corporate disasters have become the big thing in the March 31 special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat, with the Dems now firing back after the Republicans attacked Democratic candidate Scott Murphy's support for the stimulus bill as tantamount to support for the AIG bonuses.

The DCCC has this new attack ad, going after Republican Jim Tedisco for having written a letter in support of leniency against a businessman convicted in a mortgage-company scandal back in 2003:



"But Tedisco did help a wealthy mortgage executive convicted of millions in fraud -- asking the judge to go easy on him," the announcer says. "Then the convicted felon's company became one of Tedisco's top campaign contributors."

Late Update: A statement from Tedisco spokesman Adam Kramer hits the Democrats right back by pointing to Murphy's recently-stated total opposition to the death penalty -- even if it includes the 9/11 terrorists -- and continues to press the attack that Murphy is for the AIG bonuses:

"Discredited attacks will do nothing to reverse the spiral of Wall Street executive Scott Murphy's campaign. It's ironic that Washington Democrats would bring up the issue of leniency just days after Murphy made clear that he is opposed to the death penalty for 9/11 terrorists but fine with rewarding failed executives at companies like AIG."


There is a certain irony in this campaign -- the Republican is running as a populist, and the Democrat is being attacked as an out of touch Wall Street executive.

Geithner Unveiling New Bank Plan Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is rolling out the new bank rescue plan today, with a new op-ed piece in the Wall St. Journal explaining the workings of the Public-Private Investment Program, which involves the government partnering with private investors to purchase between $500 billion and $1 trillion in assets that are now clogging up the financial system. "Our approach shares risk with the private sector," Geithner writes, "efficiently leverages taxpayer dollars, and deploys private-sector competition to determine market prices for currently illiquid assets."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will be receiving their economic daily briefing at 11:15 a.m. ET, accompanied by a media pool spray, with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Obama will also be speaking at 12:30 p.m. ET from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, delivering remarks on clean energy and proposed investments in new technology included in his budget plan.

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Obama Defends Geithner -- Says He Would Not Accept A Resignation In an interview with CBS, President Obama stood by Tim Geithner's performance as Treasury Secretary, joking that he would not accept a resignation even if it were ever offered: "Sorry, Buddy, you've still got the job."

Biden Economic Adviser: Bonus Tax May Have "Gone Too Far" Jared Bernstein, the top economic adviser to Vice President Biden, told ABC's This Week that the bonus tax bill from the House may have "gone too far," and that there are serious concerns about its constitutionality. "That said, let's see what comes out of the Senate," said Bernstein. "He [President Obama] has not said he won't sign this bill. Let's see what comes out of the Senate. Let's see what gets to his desk."

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Obama Promotes Budget In New Web Address In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama lays out the priorities of his budget on issues such as energy, health care, education, and fixing the deficit:



"I realize there are those who say these plans are too ambitious to enact," said Obama. "To that I say that the challenges we face are too large to ignore. I didn't come here to pass on our problems to the next President or the next generation - I came here to solve them."

Barbour: Obama Budget "Massive Government Spending Spree" This weekend's RNC YouTube address is delivered by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, blasting the proposed Obama budget for taxing and spending:



"While families are cutting back, President Obama has proposed a massive government spending spree," said Barbour. "It reminds me of how one of our old senators used to joke about the federal budget. He said it was like a newborn baby: insatiable appetite at one end and total irresponsibility at the other."

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Did the campaign of Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat, cite itself for praise of the candidate?

A few weeks ago, Tedisco came out with this ad, containing a quote that Tedisco has "a proven record of public service":



The quote is then sourced to r8ny.com. But it turns out that a Google search of r8ny.com shows only two pages saying Tedisco has a "proven record of public service" -- and they are both Tedisco campaign press releases.

A Tedisco spokesman did not have any more details on this particular aspect of the ad as of this writing, though the spot itself was taken out of circulation a while ago.

As D.C. legend has it, George Washington told Thomas Jefferson that the Senate was designed as a saucer to "cool" the heat of House-passed legislation. Put another way, the Senate has a talent for helping bills grind to a screeching halt after arriving from the House, where the majority party has more power.

And this week's outrage-fueled AIG bonus tax is no exception. One day after the House passed a 90% retroactive levy intended to claw back bonuses at the infamous company, the future of the bill in the Senate remains less than clear.

The Senate version of the bonus tax is more measured than the House version, imposing a 35% tax on bonuses. But it also applies the tax to any company receiving more than $100 million from the bailout, while the House measure only applied to firms getting more than $5 billion. Several senior GOP senators, from Judd Gregg (NH) to Jon Kyl (AZ), have blasted the tax bill in recent hours, suggesting that Republican leaders may split on the proposal, just as they did in the House.

Could Republicans mount a filibuster of the bonus tax bill next week? Anything is possible in the current volatile political climate -- especially after today's revelation that the House bill would exempt $2.5 billion in hasty bonuses awarded last year at Merrill Lynch.

Ultimately, however, the political risk of appearing tolerant of AIG's bonuses is sure to push at least a few GOP senators over to the "yes" camp. Then the X factor becomes whether any Democrats will take the unpredictable route and raise questions about the bonus tax's constitutionality.

For an accurate reading of the tea leaves, check out this headline from Dow Jones (emphasis mine): "Sen. Reid: Senate Should Take Up AIG Bill Before April 6."

There really is no dismissing Rush Limbaugh, is there? Earlier today, in the special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat, Republican candidate Jim Tedisco declared that "Rush Limbaugh is meaningless to me."

Now, Tedisco's campaign has released a statement clarifying what he meant:

"Jim's comments were in response to a question about what voters are asking him about on the campaign trail. So far, the concerns he has been hearing from voters on the campaign trail have been local in nature, such as his support for lower property taxes, fiscal responsibility, and his opponent's appalling support for the AIG bonus loophole. That was his point and any effort to characterize it otherwise is a distortion of the facts."


Late Update: The DCCC's statement ridiculing Tedisco is available after the jump.

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TPMDC has reported on how indignant Republicans are that Democrats are considering filibuster-proofing the coming climate change bill by making it part of the budget -- remember, 25 GOPers signed a letter nixing that option last week -- but the GOPers on the Senate environment committee are taking it to a new level.

In a letter to their fellow senators today, the environment panel's Republicans throw every rhetorical weapon in their arsenal at the Obama administration for putting revenues from carbon regulation in its budget. What they're afraid of is what the energy industry has called the "nuclear option," a budget item for climate change that would fast-track the bill to passage.

And to help strangle that option, the Republicans have renamed cap-and-trade emissions limits. They're now being christened an "energy tax," which creates a nice opening to slam Democrats as tax-hikers. Read the full letter after the jump, and fear the ominous "energy tax" ...

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Minnesota DFL spokesman Eric Fought has given TPM this statement about the comments by Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg, that Coleman will likely lose the election trial and then appeal:

"It's refreshing to have someone aligned with former Senator Coleman actually telling the truth. Mr. Friedberg is right -- Al Franken received more votes on Election Day. That was proven in a fair and accurate recount and will be proven once again at the conclusion of this meticulous and fair contest.

"When the results of the recount became evident, Coleman's legal team claimed that they were focused on the contest because that was where they could make their case. Now that they have failed to make their case in the courtroom, they claim that they will make their case in the appeals process. Clearly, there isn't a case to be made. Senator-elect Franken needs to be seated so he can move on to do the people's business."

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) dealt a bad blow to the Obama administration's budget today, releasing projections that show the expected 10-year deficit to hit $9.3 trillion -- that's $2.3 trillion more than the White House's budget estimated last month.

In the age of trillion-dollar financial bailouts, one might ask, what's a couple of more trillions between friends? It means a lot to congressional Democrats, who are preparing to release their own budget outlines next week and need a large new deficit figure like they need a hole in the head.

To get an idea of the kind of heated (and rather hypocritical, coming from George W. Bush's party) rhetoric that's already coming out from GOPers on this issue, listen to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA):

CBO's word is the gospel. Congress and the administration need to get the message. The buck stops with the American taxpayer. People can afford only so much government spending, even for the worthiest-sounding causes.


And here's how House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) put it:

This report should serve as the wake-up call this administration needs. We simply cannot continue to mortgage our children and grandchildren's future to pay for bigger and more costly government.


To some extent, this is nothing new. Former President Clinton took a similar hammering in 1995 from then-GOP House leader Newt Gingrich when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with numbers that differed sharply from the White House's.

And that tale had at least a quasi-happy ending, with the nation heading into the black by the time Clinton left office. But in these recessionary times, the best President Obama can hope for is keeping his promise to halve the budget deficit over the next five years.

For a taste of how Democrats aim to counter-punch in the coming clash over the budget, check out the White House's official talking points on the new CBO figures. TPMDC has obtained a copy, which is posted after the jump.

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