In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Obama: Fiscal Discipline Needed In this weekend's Presidential YouTube address, President Obama discussed his goal of making government more efficient and controlling spending, such as the re-introduction of PAYGO principles:

"We cannot sustain deficits that mortgage our children's future, nor tolerate wasteful inefficiency," said Obama. "Government has a responsibility to spend the peoples' money wisely, and to serve the people effectively."

GOP Address: Dems Have Put Us Behind France In this weekend's RNC YouTube message, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) warned that the Democrats have put behind the French on issues like fiscal discipline and energy -- so much so that the United States would be ineligible to join the European Union:

"Now of course we don't want to be in the European Union," said Alexander. "We're the United States of America. But French deficits are lower than ours, and their president has been running around sounding like a Republican -- lecturing our president about spending so much."

Read More →

It's not every day that Democrats in the Midwest will comment on a political event in the Northeast. But the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party is now chiming in on the NY-20 special election, after Republican candidate Jim Tedisco conceded defeat in the narrow race, and contrasting this with Norm Coleman's decision to bottle up Al Franken's Senate victory in litigation.

"I congratulate Jim Tedisco for doing the right thing and conceding this race. Now the people of New York's 20th congressional district will once again be fully represented in Congress," DFL Party chairman Brian Melendez says in a press release.

"Unfortunately, Minnesotans are not as fortunate. Nearly six months after Election Day -- and the meticulous and fair process that followed -- we remain without full representation in the U.S. Senate."

Full press release after the jump -- plus a similar release from the Democratic National Committee.

Read More →

Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) is making it absolutely clear -- he is running for a full term in 2010, and has just launched this revamped campaign Web site:

Said campaign communications strategist Tracy Sefl, to TPM: "This Web site is part of Gov. Paterson's announcement that he is running in 2010."

I asked Sefl whether Paterson was prepared for a potential Democratic primary against state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. "I think that Andrew Cuomo seems to be doing a good job as attorney general," she said, "and David Paterson is doing an excellent job as governor."

Of all the odd phenomena in Republican Washington, perhaps the most inexplicable is the party's embrace of Newt Gingrich--a man who hasn't been elected to political office since the kids still listened to Fastball--as a man of ideas and political relevance. Today they turned to him to articulate some of those ideas before a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on climate change legislation. We liked this exchange between Gingrich and committee chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) in particular:

Read More →

The Democratic National Committee is quickly seizing the opportunity presented by the party's victory in the NY-20 special election -- to gloat over all the effort that Michael Steele and the Republicans put into this race.

The Dems have released this new Web video, entitled "Broken Steele":

"That's a seat that we should be able to go in and be competitive and win," Steele is shown saying. "I'm gonna put -- make it a focal point, right out of the box."

The NY-20 special election is now officially over, with Democrat Scott Murphy the winner.

GOP candidate Jim Tedisco, who trailed by 401 votes as of yesterday's vote count, has called Murphy to concede, according to Murphy spokesman Ryan Rudominer. (The latest vote count puts Murphy ahead by 399 votes.)

Murphy takes over in the seat from its previous Democratic occupant, Kirsten Gillibrand, whose appointment to the United States Senate set up the special election for this marginal district.

The election was on March 31, three and a half weeks ago, but it took this long to get a winner because it was so close and involved a lengthy process of counting and litigation of absentee ballots. Still not all of the ballots have been reported in, but it became very clear over the last few days that there was really no way Tedisco could have pulled it off.

Tedisco has released a statement, saying among other things:

"This was a close campaign every step of the way. Ultimately, it became clear that the numbers were not going our way and that the time had come to step aside and ensure that the next Congressman be seated as quickly as possible. In the interest of the citizens of the 20th Congressional district and our nation, I wish Scott the very best as he works with our new President and Congress to address the tremendous challenges facing our country."

Speaker Pelosi's office confirms to us that Murphy will be sworn in next week.

Read More →

The recent Department of Homeland Security report, which attracted so much criticism on the right for its warnings about domestic right-wing extremists, has another big-time detractor: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

Bachmann took to the House floor on Wednesday night, delivering an impassioned speech about the government tagging decent Americans as extremists for being pro-life, pro-gun rights and anti-illegal immigration -- and asking whether Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has gone "absolutely stark raving mad":

There's no doubt that Bachmann has a genuine stake in this argument. For one thing, she is staunchly pro-life. She is also in favor of gun rights, and wants to secure the borders. Oh, and she's called for revolution against President Obama's tyranny and Marxism.

Congressional Quarterly and The New Republic are reporting that House and Senate negotiators, along with members of the Obama administration, have determined that the final budget will include reconciliation instructions for health care.

As I detailed in this post--already outdated--that's a huge deal. Keep the date October 15 in mind. If the House and Senate don't agree on a comprehensive health reform bill by that date, this tactic will be operative.

Now the conferees will smooth over other discrepancies between the House and Senate budgets and then both bodies will vote on a final resolution.

Jumping off of this post, I just got some data on Ben Nelson's voting history--and it's certainly interesting. Nelson opposed the filibuster on the confirmation of two extremely controversial Bush appointees--EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, and, twice, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton (if you'll recall, Bolton was ultimately not confirmed, but became ambassador anyhow via recess appointment).

I've got a more complete history below the fold. The record tells a pretty convincing tale--Nelson generally opposes the filibuster on nominees, even if he doesn't like the candidate. Of course, if he decides to break with his own tradition and filibuster Dawn Johnsen, he'll have to explain to a lot of angry, senior Democrats why Bolton was worth an up and down vote but Johnsen is not.

Read More →

Just as a quick addendum to this post: The Senate agreed last night to send Sens. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Judd Gregg (R-NH)--the chair and ranking member of the Budget Committee--and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to the budget conference committee. There they will hash out all the differences between the Senate's budget and the House's.

So what does this mean for reconciliation? Recall that reconciliation is a process that allows Congress to circumvent a filibuster, and, potentially, an avenue for passing major reform with little room for obstruction or debate. It's a potentially huge deal and, at the very least, a tool that could provide Democrats tons of leverage in their pursuit of health reform through the standard legislative process. The House budget includes reconciliation "instructions", but the Senate bill does not, and the crucial question--will the final budget include reconciliation instructions?--will be settled in the conference committee.

Conrad and Gregg have made their opposition to the process known (though according to The Hill, "Conrad told reporters that he doesn't want to use reconciliation rules to pass healthcare reform but that he is feeling pressure to include the option in the budget resolution from House members and the Obama administration").

But what about Murray?

Read More →