In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties are nearing their decisions on the roster of people who will sit on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. According to Reuters there are some familiar names floating around. "A short list of names has emerged that includes former Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson; former Democratic head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission Brooksley Born; and Alex Pollock, a fellow at the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, according to a source familiar with the matter."

[O]ther possible appointees include Bill Thomas, former Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Jake Garn, former Republican senator; and Bob Graham, the former Democratic senator and Florida governor.

There are some serious names on the list, but also some baggage. Fred Thompson, for instance, is now viewed as an extremely political figure. Additionally, there aren't any famous, trusted brands (Elizabeth Warren, for instance) or people associated with consumer protection, an issue House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hopes the commission will bring to light.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on the Glenn Beck show yesterday evening, to keep on her new campaign to not completely fill out her census reform. She is drawing a line against government intrusion, despite the $5,000 fine that could potentially be imposed.

Bachmann again invoked a historic connection between the Census and the Japanese-American internment -- and she objected to the government looking into people's mental health:

"Well, I think everyone in the country has been happy about what I've said -- other than the U.S. Census Bureau," said Bachmann. "So I think other than that, we're doing pretty well."

Bachmann also differentiated between the 28-page American Community Survey, which only a tiny fraction of Americans will receive, and the short form that everyone gets -- and she objected to both of them. "Does the federal government really need to know our phone numbers?" she asked. "Do they really need to know, like you said, the date and time that we leave mental stability?"

If you want to know why the Senate HELP Committee--the more liberal of the two Senate committees with jurisdiction over health reform--hasn't been able to unveil a public option, you need look no further than freshman Kay Hagan (D-NC).

Her opposition was revealed last week, but now, she's speaking publicly about it.

This might not be a huge problem for supporters of the provision, but it becomes one because, with a narrow Democratic majority on the committee and its chairman, Ted Kennedy, in poor health, her vote is crucial to moving the bill forward--something the panel's been working toward for days now without success.

A new Rasmussen poll finds a plurality of South Carolina's likely voters saying that Gov. Mark Sanford should resign in the wake of his recent disappearance to Argentina and subsequent admission of an extramarital affair.

The numbers: 46% say he should resign, to 39% who say he should not. Only 40% think the legislature should impeach him if he does not resign, compared to 48% who disagree. These numbers are not much different from an InsiderAdvantage poll yesterday, which was of registered voters.

At the same time, 55% of respondents in the new poll said that Sanford is about as ethical as most politicians, with 18% saying he is more ethical than others, and 18% saying his ethics are lower than average.

Climate-Change Bill In The Balance Democratic leaders in the House are working hard to pass the climate-change bill today, containing a cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon emissions, with Dems from industrial states holding the balance of power on the issue. Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought yesterday to rebut Republican charges that the bill would cost jobs, insisting instead, "It will create millions of new jobs."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet one-on-one with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 10:30 a.m., with an expanded meeting at 11 a.m. ET, a joint press availability at 11:30 a.m. ET, and a working lunch at 12 p.m. ET. Obama will meet with Vice President Biden at 1:30 p.m. ET. At 6:15 p.m. ET, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a picnic for White House staff.

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This is not completely unexpected, but it is very much new. The AFL-CIO has sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to vote 'yes' on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. Labor has been involved in the process for a while, and fairness to workers was a key consideration for the lawmakers who wrote the bill. But this is also the first time the group has supported energy legislation like this, and the move gives cover to moderates and representatives from blue collar districts to support the bill and avoid inevitable jobs attacks.

The full letter appears below the fold.

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While House Minority Leader John Boehner might be refraining, at least for now, from claiming that cap and trade legislation will cost consumers thousands of dollars a year, he's still attacking the Waxman-Markey bill. His latest tactic involves placing a bunch of brightly colored words and acronyms on a poster and citing it as evidence that addressing climate change is just too complicated.


"If you look at this chart, this is how this process will work," Boehner said, referring to the above illustration which outlines no process whatsoever. "With the EPA being in the middle, look at all of these different agencies that are involved. This is the most elaborate thing that I have seen and you know, I have been here a while and I've seen some pretty crazy things, but I have never seen anything this ridiculous."

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Earlier this week I reported that a Congressional Budget Office analysis had determined that--despite what Republicans have been alleging for weeks--the Waxman-Markey climate change bill will have only a modest financial impact on American households.

My inquiry about this discrepancy to House Minority Leader John Boehner's office went unanswered, but the next day, Boehner distributed a new set of talking points which omitted the once-omnipresent claim that the legislation would cost the average household over $3,000 annually.

Not everyone's following protocol, though.

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Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) got a rare piece of good legal news today -- though it's unrelated to the pending matter of his appeal at the Minnesota Supreme Court of his election defeat which everyone expects him to lose.

The Federal Election Commission has ruled that Coleman can use campaign funds to pay for legal fees associated with the Nasser Kazeminy case, which involves a lawsuit in Texas alleging that a businessman conspired to funnel money to Coleman via his wife.

The committee went with existing precedents that campaign funds can be used to defend against accusations relating to a politician's official position -- that is, that nobody would have sought to bribe Coleman if he weren't a Senator.

However, the committee is silent on whether Coleman can use money from his special recount committee, which is distinct from his re-election fund.

The Club For Growth is looking to employ a fun new tactic against their long-time nemesis, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-turned-D-PA), and has sent a letter to the FEC asking permission for this novel maneuver: To send a mass mailing to previous Specter donors, reminding them of the incumbent's offer to return donations to anyone who asks, and including a form to help them do just that!

The Club, of course, previously bankrolled then-Rep. Pat Toomey's conservative primary challenge against Specter in 2004, which Specter just barely won by 51%-49%. Toomey became the Club's president some time afterward, then left to challenge Specter again in 2010 with the group's full backing. This then led to Specter's party switch, and he singled them out for condemnation during his press conference announcing his move.

The Club's letter to the FEC includes their arguments for why they believe this action by them is permitted under the law, along with various disclaimers -- that Specter is not legally required to return donations and their own letter would remind recipients of this, that they would not broker any mailing lists from this, that they won't solicit recipients for any donations to the Club or another candidate, etc.

Bottom line: Assuming this is legal, the Club has found yet another way to annoy Specter.