In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Labor Group Ad Attacks Rush As GOP Leader The Democratic assault on the GOP as the Party of Limbaugh continues apace, with the labor-backed group Americans United For Change airing this new ad on national cable and in the D.C. media market -- essentially targeted at the political media and high-information voters:

"Call the Republican leadership. Tell them to just say no to the politics of Rush Limbaugh," the announcer says, followed by Limbaugh's signature line: "I hope he fails!"

Plouffe: Party Of Limbaugh Could Fall Even Lower Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe also has a new op-ed piece in the Washington Post, with the straightforward title "Minority Leader Limbaugh," predicting a long period in the wilderness for the GOP. "But if the GOP sticks with its strategy of failure as the only option," says Plouffe, "further eroding its brand with the people who decide elections, we may find out what it means for a political party to hit rock bottom."

Ex-Bush Speechwriter: GOP Could Be "Marginalized" By Limbaugh Former Bush speechwriter David Frum told the Washington Post that the math surrounding Rush Limbaugh works against the Republicans. "We can't win elections by getting our core voters agitated," said Frum. "But if you're a talk radio host and you have 5 million who listen and there are 50 million people who hate you, you can make a nice living. If you're a Republican Party, you're marginalized."

Obama To Announce Reform Of Federal Contracts President Obama will be speaking at 10 a.m. ET in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he will lay out a plan to reform the federal contracting process, and promise to save the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in waste. At 7:30 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will host a dinner at the White House for the chairs of the Congressional committees.

Gordon Brown To Speak To Congress British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be speaking to a joint session of Congress today at 11 a.m. ET. Vice President Biden will also be in attendance.

Biden Meeting With Chiefs of Police, Former Secretaries of State Vice President Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder will be hosting a reception this afternoon for members of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Biden will then be meeting with former Secretaries of State James Baker and Warren Christopher, to review a report of the National War Powers Commission. Tonight, Biden will attend the President and First Lady's dinner for the Congressional Committee chairs.

NYT: States Mining Stimulus For Road Projects The New York Times reports that the states are already getting to work on spending the stimulus money, putting portions of it towards road projects that had been on hold: "The work, however mundane much of it is, cannot come too soon for a construction industry buffeted by an unemployment rate that has risen to twice the national average as many states cut back on building."

Steele: People Don't Know What I'm Doing -- And I Like It In an interview with the Politico, Michael Steele fired back at Republican chatter that he isn't doing a good job as chairman -- that he's made gaffes, and he still hasn't put in place an effective organizational structure. I know some folks in Washington feel that they're kind of on the outside of this," Steele said, "that they don't have the day-to-day blow by blow of what I'm doing. And that's exactly how I like it."

The new suggestion by the Coleman legal team, that the whole election could be thrown out, has now attracted condemnation from yet another Democratic leader. Here's the new statement from DNC chairman Tim Kaine:

"The people of Minnesota have spoken. It's time for Norm Coleman to accept the voters' decision, do what is best for his state and country and stop standing in the way of a Senator being seated. The stakes for our country are too high right now to suggest that the results of a democratic election, exhaustive recount, and legal proceedings be thrown out just because Norm Coleman doesn't like the results."

President Obama's budget is a veritable road map to a more progressive tax policy, as I noted earlier today, but it also includes specific plans for regulating carbon emissions to fight climate change.

That, in turn, opens the door for Congress to use "budget reconciliation" process rules that would shield climate legislation from Senate filibusters when it comes to a vote (expected later this year or early next year). Using reconciliation to speed passage of health care reform has been a hot topic since onetime health secretary Tom Daschle flirted with the idea earlier this year, but budget reconciliation for climate change is a relatively new prospect in the Capitol Hill pipeline. And guess who thinks it's a terrible idea, as Roll Call reports today (sub. req'd)?

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At a press conference just now, Coleman spokesman Ben Ginsberg said it very bluntly: He does not believe it's possible for the election court to legally declare a winner.

The Coleman campaign has now been building up a case that there are too many intractable legal problems in this case, and they've gone so far as to openly suggest to the judges that the whole thing just be thrown out. Now Ginsberg is pumping up the volume a little more.

Ginsberg was repeatedly asked whether the Coleman camp wants a new election.

At one point, he said: "We're calling for this court to do its duty and either certify -- which I don't think it can do -- or not certify," adding that once the court realizes they can't certify the vote totals, we can then talk about a remedy.

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A new group called Conservatives for Patients Rights (CPR) is about to launch the opening salvo in the fight to sink President Obama's health care plan.

CPR is running TV, radio, and web ads that attempt to stoke irrational fears of "a central national board" in charge of medical decision-making, asking Americans to envision a world where "bureaucrats decide the treatments you receive, the drugs you take, even the doctors you see." Of course, that vision has nothing to do with the president's health care plan, but the truth shouldn't be an impediment to CPR's dream of killing health care reform.

After all, the group has hired Creative Response Concepts, the same PR firm that represented the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential race. The "media relations" contact number listed on CPR's website, (703) 683-5004, is the same phone number as Creative Response Concepts, as one liberal organization discovered when researching the new health care group.

Creative Response's past clients also include the Christian Coalition, the right-leaning National Taxpayers Union, and USANext, the front group that led George W. Bush's failed push to privatize Social Security. Hilariously, Politico could only bring itself to observe that CPR has hired "veteran Republican consultants" for its new anti-Obama effort.

No group of congressional Democrats is better at getting under progressives' skin than the House Blue Dogs, the caucus of conservative Democrats that excels at grabbing headlines while watering down and delaying liberal priorities.

But the simmering debate over the so-called "cramdown" proposal, which would change the law to permit loan modifications on primary residences for homeowners declaring bankruptcy, has minted a new villain for many liberals: the New Democrat Coalition, a moderate group of free-traders that claimed White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel as one of their own until recently.

The progressive case against the New Dems predated the cramdown scuffle, but tempers flared last week when Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to delay consideration of a broad foreclosure-aid bill in order to modify the provision on mortgage-holders declaring bankruptcy.

Now, the cramdown plan is a no-brainer and a definite benefit to the nation's at-risk homeowners -- but were the New Dems really trying to kill it?

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Some EFCA updates:

Looks like the Employee Free Choice Act could get introduced as early as next week. It'll easily pass the House when it comes up for a vote, just as it did last year, but passage in the Senate will be hard and it doesn't help that the Minnesota seat remains unresolved.

Tomorrow, Vice President Joe Biden is supposed to give a full-throated defense of the act when he speaks to top AFL officials at their meeting in Miami.

Meanwhile, in the hotly contested House race to replace New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Republican, Jim Tedisco was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today in no small part because his opponent is supporting EFCA.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman of the DSCC, has released this statement in response to the Coleman legal team's suggestion that the Minnesota election court could throw out the whole result:

"Today Norm Coleman's camp has reached a new low. After five weeks in court, they are now asking for the results of the election to be thrown out. That's not how we do elections in this country. Minnesota's hand-recount has been one of the most careful and thorough in the history of the United States. When you are behind in the vote, you can try to pretend the election never happened, but for the sake of the people of Minnesota - and the country - it is time to stop throwing gas on the fire and allow everyone to move on, so that Minnesota has full representation, the Senate has all of its members, and we can get done the work we were all elected to do."

The Franken legal team has written a letter to the judges in the election case, sharply rebutting the Coleman camp's new idea to nullify the whole election.

The letter mainly rebuts the Coleman camp's call to retroactively un-count a number of absentee ballots on a geographically-targeted basis. Team Franken argue that the binding case law says this is not a viable option, and that the court is not allowed to calculate that any illegal ballots favored one candidate over another -- that would be relieving Coleman of his responsibilities under the burden of proof.

Then they get to the proposition about throwing the election out:

Contestants' alternative and even more untimely suggest--that the election be set aside--fails as well. Not only has this remedy been applied primarily when there is evidence of fraud or systemic irregularities...but this Court lacks the authority to set aside the election. Its jurisdiction is limited to deciding which party received the highest number of legally cast votes, and therefore is entitled to receive the certificate of election... Any other remedy lies within the jurisdiction of the United States Senate.

And let's make no mistake, by the way. After this thing crisscrosses its way through the legal system, the United States Senate is probably where the fight will end up next, in light of the increasing noise from the Coleman campaign that the election is invalid.

At today's press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked by the NBC correspondent, Tom Costello, to respond to the complaints of CNBC's Jim Cramer, made on NBC's "Today" show that the president is scaring investors. Anyone who has listened to Jim Cramer already has plenty of reason to be scared because his advice has been so consistently wrong. Anyone listenting to Tom Costello might think that NBC is in the business of self promotion. Anyone listening to Gibbs respond might thing that the White House loves to use goofballs as strawmen.

This comes on the heels of the administration responding to Rush Limbaugh--and elevating his status to leader of the Republican party--and the White House using CNBC's Rick Santelli as a foil. Before we have the president responding to Glen Beck or Erin Burnett, can we have a ban on reporters asking the White House to respond to a blowhard and can the White House stop using blowhards as a foil?