In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the Appropriation Committee chairman, has sent a letter to his colleagues articulating his opposition to using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care or climate change legislation.

"I oppose using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform and climate change legislation.... As one of the authors of the reconciliation process, I can tell you that the ironclad parliamentary procedures it authorizes were never intended for this purpose."

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Michele Bachmann did an interview posted yesterday at the right-wing blog Atlas Shrugs, where she talked about the danger of a global currency and other Obama economic policies. And she made this bold declaration: "And so we need to once again decide, do we want to be free, or do we want to be slaves? We have to make that decision. And I know I've made my choice, you've made your choice. And we have to act in concert if we want to make sure that we can hold on to what we have."

On the plus side, there was a point in the interview where Bachmann continued hearkening back to the American Revolution -- as she did during her fiery interview with Sean Hannity last week, when she said America was reaching the point of "orderly revolution" against Obama's Marxism -- but this time she was abundantly clear that she meant people needed to organize against Obama in elections:

The best thing that we can do, I believe, is to inform the American people what's at risk and what's at stake, and a better way forward. And if we can convince them -- because all we have right now is we can do that -- then perhaps we can turn this around in 2010, and at least stop the progress President Obama has made, continue to inform the American people, and make sure that his first term is his last term. And then we have to be extremely bold, if we are fortunate enough to win the presidency in 2012.

(Via Dump Bachmann.)

It's hard to tell if Eric Cantor's testing a new message, or if this is the new Republican line on the Democrats and the state of affairs in the country, but Politico reports that, at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning, the House GOP whip, said Democrats are "overreacting, as they often will, to crisis."

But back to this morning. Cantor told participants that "Doing too much has huge, huge pitfalls," better, in other words, to err on the side of doing too little.

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Arlen Specter isn't waiting for Pat Toomey, the former GOP Congressman who nearly defeated him in the 2004 primary, to officially enter the race this time -- he's already going on the air with an attack ad.

The ad blasts Toomey as a credit-default swap trader who favored less oversight of Wall St. and putting Social Security in the stock market, and now wants a "bonus" in the form of a U.S. Senate seat:

Toomey has said he's "very likely" to run, but hasn't officially launched his campaign. That said, he's been speaking to conservative activists -- even appearing with Joe The Plumber against the Employee Free Choice Act -- and a candidacy really appears to be a foregone conclusion. So Specter isn't waiting.

The DSCC is moving out a new publicity push in the never-ending Minnesota Senate race, with a new Web petition: "It's time to give it up, Norm."

(Click image to enlarge.)

The DSCC has also sent out an e-mail promoting the petition to its supporter list, authored by Paul Begala:

But Norm Coleman didn't like that result, so he took it to court. And now when even his own lawyers are predicting he'll lose, Coleman's threatening to keep appealing to more and more courts.

How many more recounts does Norm Coleman want? How many more delays? How much longer will the Republican Party hold Minnesota's Senate seat hostage?

As I reported last night, the Senate went on record yesterday against using the reconciliation process to pass climate change legislation. Most high-profile Democrats say they had no plans to do that anyhow, but yesterday's vote (67-31) almost certainly forecloses on the option altogether. The roll call just went up belatedly on the Senate website (owing, perhaps, to a backlog of votes) and I want to highlight the 26 Democrats who voted with the Republicans. With this vote they committed themselves to the idea that climate change legislation should be subject to a filibuster, and their large numbers suggests, perhaps, significant opposition to passing any major reform legislation (read: health care) through reconciliation.

Full list below the fold.

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The new Quinnipiac poll from Connecticut has some truly ghastly numbers for Chris Dodd in the wake of the AIG bonus scandal, with him trailing former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons by a whopping 50%-34% margin, running behind GOP state Sen. Sam Caliguiri by 41%-37%, and trailing possible GOP candidate Tom Foley, a businessman, by 43%-35%.

Only 33% of registered voters approve of Dodd's performance as a Senator, with 58% disapproving. When asked whether they approve of Dodd's performance as Senate Banking Committee chairman, only 21% of registered voters approve, and 69% disapprove. Only 32% agree that he is honest and trustworthy, with 54% saying he is not.

On the bonuses themselves, 39% say they blame Dodd "a lot," and 35% blame him "some." And when asked who deserves the most blame for the bonuses, Dodd is in a statistical tie for first with George W. Bush: Bush 28%, Dodd 27%, Tim Geithner 20%, and 7% Barack Obama.

A Democratic source tells TPM that Dodd will improve as he regains support among Democratic voters, and that people are going to have a lot of negative reactions this close to the AIG scandal. We'll see what future polls have in store.

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G-20 Leaders Reaching Outlines Of Agreement On IMF, Regulations The G-20 leaders have reportedly agreed to give more than $500 billion to the IMF, in order to help governments struggling because of the financial crisis, along with stronger financial regulations to avoid another crisis in the future, though details remain to be hammered out. "I'm not saying that everything is sewn up. It isn't," said UK Business Minister Peter Mandelson. "I mean there are arguments, or some tensions over precisely what resources we're talking about."

Obama's Day Ahead: The G-20 Summit In London President Obama met with South Korean leaders in London at 3 a.m. ET this morning. At 3:30 a.m. ET, he attended the G-20 leaders breakfast. At 4:50 a.m. ET, he attended the G-20 summit's opening plenary session. At 8:25 a.m. ET he attended the G-20 leaders lunch. At 9:30 a.m. ET he will attend the afternoon plenary session. At 10:35 a.m. ET he will meet with leaders of Saudi Arabia, and at 11:30 a.m. ET he will meet with leaders of India. At 12:45 p.m. ET, he will hold a news conference.

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Via Brad Plumer of The New Republic comes this article from the St. Petersburg Times throwing some cold water on the Republican party's allegation that the Democrats are planning to institute a "light-switch tax" that would cost every American household $3,128 annually. The punchline is this: The Times got in touch with John Reilly, one of the authors of the study the GOP cited as the source of that number, and he said, "It's wrong in so many ways it's hard to begin."

As we noted earlier, "light-switch tax" is a tendentious renaming (or misnaming) of "cap-and-trade legislation", which would price and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But where did the GOP come up with that price tag?

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