In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Is the administration disavowing the term "Global War on Terror"? A report by Al Kamen yesterday suggested maybe. The question arises because of an email Dave Riedel of the Office of Security Review sent to Pentagon staffers informing them that "OMB says: 'This Administration prefers to avoid using the term "Long War" or "Global War on Terror" [GWOT]. Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.'"

As luck would have it, though, OMB director Peter Orszag held a conference call with reporters this morning to answer questions about the budget, and fielded a question about this very issue.

"I sometimes am amused by the things I read in the press," Orszag said. "I'm not aware of any communication I've had on that issue. It was a communication by a mid-level career civil service."

So GWOT it is. That doesn't mean the Riedel email didn't go out, though, and some (me, for instance) wonder if some at the Pentagon might stick with the supposedly new moniker (Overseas Contingency Operation) leading to amusing confusion on the Hill.

This has been a problem for the government for some time, and to such an extent that even George Bush was willing to admit error. "We actually misnamed the war on terror," Bush said in August 2004. "It ought to be the struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world." Touche.

The big budget news (always an eyeball grabber) is that Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and his House counterpart John Spratt (D-SC) are taking machetes to Obama's proposal, released last month. The Washington Post reports that the two are poised to release budget blueprints that "cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Obama's spending request over the next five years."

But is there really any there, there? Short answer: not really. The blueprints, called resolutions, aren't binding on the work of congressional committees, which are still plowing ahead with their legislative agendas. And at the same time, many of Conrad's changes are geared more toward hiding spending than toward specific cuts. For instance, "Conrad...pressed some Bush-era budget maneuvers eliminated by Obama back into service: Instead of a 10-year budget that shows deficits steadily accumulating, for example, Conrad is proposing a five-year spending plan."

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A new Rasmussen poll shows that the American public has a clear grasp of an easy concept: He who pays the piper calls the tune.

The poll asks: "If the government provides funding to keep a company in business, should the federal government regulate the level of pay and bonuses for executives of that company?"

The numbers are 61% in favor, to only 27% against.

On the other hand, a 64%-23% majority opposes regulation of executive pay at businesses that do not receive government money in order to stay in business, and respondents say 66%-21% that the federal government should not regulate pay at all publicly-traded companies.

But if we take it as a given that a company is getting bailed out, the public wants control of the pay structure.

The House Education and Labor Committee is holding a hearing this morning on the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division -- which has utterly failed in its mission to protect workers from discrimination and exploitation, according to an undercover inquiry by Congress' investigative arm.

The inquiry, conducted during the Bush administration by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), involved a series of calls placed to Wage and Hour officials by GAO analysts posing as aggrieved workers. When the undercover GAO folks tried to seek help from the Labor Department to resolve employer issues, they were met with stonewalling ... and in some cases, outright rejection.

You can listen in to six of the undercover calls in question -- links are posted after the jump.

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It's interesting to contrast the national parties' latest round of e-mails in the special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat, which is being held this Tuesday.

The DNC has sent out an e-mail on behalf of Democratic candidate Scott Murphy, with President Obama formally announcing his endorsement and asking supporters in and around the district to help the campaign.

Meanwhile, the NRCC sent out a fundraising e-mail yesterday that continued to push the debunked attack line that Murphy supports the AIG bonuses: "Have you heard about Scott Murphy and his support for the taxpayer funded AIG bonuses? If not, you should know America cannot afford Scott Murphy in Congress and why you cannot trust him."

The e-mails themselves point to a big difference between the parties right now: One of them has a clear national leader who is quite popular at the moment. The other party has no single leader who can mobilize support, or even a major popular figure, so their job is really to tear down the other guy.

The AIG-inspired plan to tax bonuses at bailed-out firms is stalling quickly in the Senate, but the House Financial Services Committee is pressing ahead today by taking up a bill that would freeze existing bonus contracts and require the Treasury Department to produce its own executive-pay standards.

But the measure, sponsored by Reps. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Jim Himes (D-CT), doesn't leave the thorny decision on appropriate Wall Street pay to the Treasury alone. After Secretary Tim Geithner makes the call on what constitutes "excessive" compensation, the bill would require him to secure the approval of other financial regulatory agencies.

The House bill's limit on Geithner's ability to control the pay standards is admittedly slight, but it reflects a growing shift in the capital away from consolidating power in the hands of Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

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A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania shows just how much trouble Arlen Specter could have in his 2010 Republican primary. Against his 2004 challenger Pat Toomey, who is expected to run again this time, he's stuck in the twenties.

The numbers: Toomey 41%, Specter 27%. Specter's loss of his Republican base also leaves him with weak numbers for a general election, with only 31% against a generic Democrat's 33%.

Specter remains somewhat popular with the overall electorate, though, with a 52% approval to 33% disapproval -- the kind of number that any incumbent could take into a general election. But the catch is that the approval comes from Democrats -- among Republicans, he's at only 36% approval and 52% disapproval.

Keep in mind that Pennsylvania uses a closed primary, and the number of registered Republicans has fallen since 2004 -- when Specter only held off Toomey by a 51%-49% margin -- leaving a very conservative base. And Specter's vote for the stimulus bill certainly can't have helped him.

It's numbers like these that led many observers to think Specter's best bet to stay in office could be to switch parties. But now that he's announced his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, he's probably cut off that option, as well.

Jindal: Do I Want Obama To Fail? It Depends At an NRCC dinner last night in Washington, Bobby Jindal blasted Democrats for demanding that Republicans not want President Obama to fail. "Make no mistake: Anything other than an immediate and compliant, 'Why no sir, I don't want the president to fail,' is treated as some sort of act of treason, civil disobedience or political obstructionism," said Jindal, going on to explain the bottom line: "My answer to the question is very simple: 'Do you want the president to fail?' It depends on what he is trying to do."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama is meeting in the Oval Office with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at 10:45 a.m. ET. At 1 p.m. ET, he will meet on Capitol Hill with the Senate Democratic Caucus, where he is expected to discuss his budget proposal. At 5:05 p.m. ET, he and Vice President Biden will host an event in the East Room to commemorate Greek Independence Day. And tonight he will speak at two DNC fundraisers: An 8:15 p.m. ET event at the National Women in the Arts Museum, and at 9 p.m. ET in Warner Theater.

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CNN's Ed Henry got an interesting response out of the president by suggesting that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who successfully pushed 15 of the top 20 AIG bonus recipients to give back their money, is getting more done on the executive-compensation front than the White House.

Obama avoided addressing the Cuomo comparison directly, but said that expressing a public opinion on AIG bonuses "took us a couple of days, because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." Is the implication, then, that Cuomo got out too far in front of the populist furor too quickly?

Discussing his budget outline, President Obama just sent a nice shot across the bow of his erstwhile Commerce Secretary nominee, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who has rolled out some eye-poppingly hyperbolic metaphors to describe the administration's budget options.

"The critics tend to criticize, but they don't offer an alternative budget," Obama just quipped.

And wouldn't you know it, Gregg is the senior GOPer on the Senate Budget Committee ... and his side won't be offering an alternative budget this year. (House Republicans, by contrast, are taking that plunge.)

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