In it, but not of it. TPM DC

While we're all waiting for a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court about the state's ever-continuing disputed 2008 Senate race between Republican former Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic comedian Al Franken, the national GOP is reiterating its continued support for Coleman if he appeals a much-expected defeat -- and that avenues exist to stop Al Franken from being certified as the winner.

"We'll do everything we can to support Norm as long as he has appellate remedies to pursue," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in an interview with David Weigel.

Cornyn noted that if Franken wins the appeals, the Governor and state Secretary of State will be required to give him a certificate of election -- his golden ticket into the Senate. But, Cornyn said, Coleman could potentially appeal to the Supreme Court: "The justice that's responsible for that area -- I think it's Justice Alito -- could issue a stay in the issuance of the election certificate, and it could be referred to the entire court."

"I say all this as 'could,'" said Cornyn, "not as 'will or should.'"

Yesterday, I asked a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner whether Republicans would alter their climate change talking points, in light of a Congressional Budget Office report finding that the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill will be much less expensive per household than the GOP had suggested.

Boehner never got back to me. But he did circulate new talking points, which elide the erroneous allegation that a cap-and-trade bill will cost the average household over $3,000, and attack the legislation with selective quotations instead.

You can read the whole missive below the fold.

Read More →

Over the weekend, Sen. Dianne Feinstein went on CNN's State of the Union and said the President may not have enough votes to accomplish comprehensive health care reform.

"To be candid with you, I don't know that he has the votes right now," Feinstein said. "I think there's a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus."

Since then, quite a bit has transpired, at least rhetorically, on the issue, and for now, things look a bit different. But nonetheless, reform advocates are taking exception to her comments.

Read More →

Asked about health reform at his press conference moments ago, President Obama declined to draw a line in the sand on the issue of a public insurance option.

The non-negotiable criteria, he said, are that reform should drive down costs and cover the un- and underinsured. He declined, though, to put the public option in this category, saying that he feels strongly about certain provisions and will take those concerns up with members of Congress individually.

Read More →

We've received our review copy of "False Witness: The Michele Bachmann Story," the new comic book from our friends at the Dump Bachmann Web site, documenting the rise and extreme statements of our favorite House GOP backbencher, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). It's now in print in Minnesota, and anybody can order it online. So how is it?

As both a comic book fan and a Bachmann fan, I quite enjoyed it, but my hope is that the first issue was really laying a foundation for more to come. This comic introduces us to Bachmann, but then doesn't so much focus on her as it does on the important information we need to truly understand her political prominence -- the nature of extreme right-wing culture that has bequeathed a politician such as her to our national dialogue.

Right from the cover, which has a wacky cartoonish feeling as if it were somehow pencilled by Sergio Aragones and inked by R. Crumb, you know we're dealing with a special politician:

(Click images to enlarge.)

And sure enough, the first page introduces us to Bachmann herself, and her call for revoluation against the Marxist tyranny of President Obama:

Read More →

On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--a senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee--made his frustrations with the state of health reform negotiations public. "I don't think I could say with a straight face that this (co-op proposal) is at all close to a nationwide public option," he told the Associated Press. "Right now, this co-op idea doesn't come close to satisfying anyone who wants a public plan."

Schumer has been a key negotiator on the committee, seeking compromise between conservative and liberal Democrats on the inclusion of a public insurance option in the committee's forthcoming reform legislation. Last week, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)--also of the Finance Committee--said he thought the idea was dead in the water; that it couldn't win Republican support and that Democrats should throw in their lot with the idea of creating a co-op system instead. That, though, would alienate liberals, and might also fail to entice Republicans to support the entire package, and as a result, Schumer said, Democrats might have to go it alone on the public option.

Now Conrad is changing his tune--at least somewhat. He's still pushing the co-op model, but one with comparable levels of clout to a government-run public plan: "I believe to be effective there has to a national entity with state affiliates and those affiliates have to have the ability to regionalize," Conrad told reporters. "I think [Schumer's] concern there can be addressed."

Read More →

The new survey of Ohio from Public Policy Polling (D) shows the Democrats starting with an advantage in the 2010 Senate campaign, an open-seat race for the Senate seat of retiring GOP Sen. George Voinovich.

Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, a Democrat, leads Republican former Congressman Rob Portman by a margin of 41%-32%. The other Democrat in the race, Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner, is also ahead of Portman by 40%-32%.

From the pollster's analysis: "All three candidates are doing about equally well within their own parties but since Ohio has more Democrats than Republicans and Brunner and Fisher both lead with independents, it allows them to start out with an overall solid lead."

The latest news regarding Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) has been that of a Senator trying to get back to doing the people's business -- and not wanting to answer any further questions about his recent admission of an extramarital affair:

• "I said what I was going to say last week," he told the Politico.

• "I have no more other comments to make," he told The Hill. "I have nothing further to add."

• Ensign will address the Senate GOP at their weekly lunch today. As Roll Call points out, it's become something of a regular ritual for the caucus to hear a scandal-plagued member having to explain himself -- previous examples include, David Vitter, Larry Craig and Ted Stevens.

• Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has announced that it will file an ethics complaint regarding Ensign's hiring practices, seeing as how his ex-mistress had been a campaign staffer, and her husband was a top Senate staffer -- and their employment ended after the affair was over.

After seeing it through a number of inter- and intraparty obstacles, House leaders will soon bring the Waxman-Markey climate change bill up for a vote--perhaps as early as Friday.

"There are some issues still under discussion, but we are confident we can resolve them by the time the bill goes to the floor on Friday," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told Bloomberg's Simon Lomax.

If it passes, the bill--which would create a cap and trade system to price and reduce carbon emissions--may have to wait quite a while before further action as lawmakers scramble to pass major health care legislation before taking a month-long recess in August.