In it, but not of it. TPM DC

John McCain is taking a page from House Republicans and, in about an hour, will be introducing an alternative budget of his own. It's a move that might just rankle Judd Gregg--who, as chairman of the Budget Committee, and the guy who would normally make these decisions, opted not to go that route.

We should have more details once it comes to the floor, but in the mean time, recall that during his presidential campaign, McCain called for a one year non-military discretionary spending freeze. That's in contrast to the House GOP budget which calls for a five year freeze. Economic conditions in the country have gotten worse since the November election, though, and Republican cries for spending cuts have grown louder, so it's possible that he's has doubled down or more on this idea.

The DNC has now put out their memo/press release analyzing the NY-20 special election: "Murphy's lead following yesterday's balloting shows that the Republican Party has no new ideas, is tied to the failed policies of the past and that it is in disarray and faces an uphill battle in local and state elections in 2009 and 2010."

The DNC also declares it a win for Obama: "This race became a referendum on President Obama and his leadership of the country and handling of the economy. Murphy's showing in an overwhelmingly Republican district is affirmation of the direction the President is leading the country."

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Yesterday, we reported on the unveiling of new House climate change legislation co-authored by Henry Waxman, and Ed Markey. Since then, a bit more info's trickled in, particularly from the Senate.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) told the Washington Post "we don't have 60 votes"--that's no surprise, but it's also an important statement by the Democratic whip, at a time when the party is grappling with the question of budget reconciliation.

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Appearing on Fox News radio with Brian Kilmeade, Norm Coleman himself confirmed that he'll be appealing his case -- which his legal spokesman had announced yesterday, after the election court handed down a ruling that seriously damaged his efforts to get his campaign's list of previously-rejected absentee ballots put into the count:

Some fun quotes, after the jump.

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Here's a quick roundup of some news from the NY-20 special election:

• As the standard process of proofreading the vote spreadsheets has been conducted, Democrat Scott Murphy's lead over Republican Jim Tedisco has actually shrunk from 65 votes to 25 in the latest AP numbers. These sorts of human errors are commonplace, and are usually very small and break about equally -- but in a race this close, they can be consequential.

• The Washington Post reports that Democrats have privately predicted a Murphy win by 210 votes, when all the absentee ballots are counted. This is based on making projections for the home counties of the absentees, from the percentages for each candidate in the Election Day tally. But here's a counter-example: when some previously-rejected absentee ballots in Minnesota were opened up and counted this past January 3, Al Franken ended up doing far better than geography alone would have predicted. It really does come down to which side had the better absentee ballot operation.

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Looks like we may soon be learning more about the preferential treatment major banks may have enjoyed in the wake of the AIG bailout.

Last week, we noted Rep. Spencer Bachus's efforts to bring to light the issue of smaller U.S. banks that are allegedly being stiffed on their loans to an AIG subsidiary even as major CDS counterparties (some of them foreign banks) were paid off in full. Bachus is the ranking member on the House Financial Services committee, and he aired his concerns at a hearing and in letters he sent to both Geithner and Barney Frank, the committee chairman.

After we reported this, the Wall Street Journal dug up a couple examples of just this issue, one of which occurred in Bachus' district.

Now, it seems, the committee is taking some steps toward investigating Bachus' complaint.

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The NRCC has just released this statement from New York's GOP Congressional delegation, predicting a win by Jim Tedisco in NY-20:

Washington - Today, the members of New York's Republican Congressional Delegation - Reps. Peter King, John McHugh and Chris Lee - released the following statement regarding the status of the special election in New York's 20th Congressional District:

"With the election not yet certified, and the Republican advantage among absentee ballots not yet counted, we are confident that Jim Tedisco will be the next Congressman from New York's 20th Congressional District. We look forward to welcoming Jim as our colleague and working with him to address the critical issues facing upstate New Yorkers."

It's worth stopping here for a moment and considering the fact that New York, with 29 total House members, only has three Republicans in the bunch. After the 2000 elections, before the GOP brand completely crashed in the Northeast, that number was 12 Republicans out of 31. So obviously, these three guys want to have some company and rebuild their party.

Scott Murphy, the Democratic candidate in the super-close NY-20 special election, has put out this statement predicting victory:

"Eight weeks ago, we were down over twenty points and they said this couldn't be done. The election results proved something very different," said Murphy. "The voters of the 20th Congressional District made clear they want a leader with proven business experience who will work across the aisle to bring common sense solutions to Washington.

"Thanks to our unbelievable grassroots supporters who helped build this amazing campaign in just eight weeks, we've defied the odds and we won a majority of votes cast Tuesday.

"We are confident that once all the absentee ballots are counted, we will expand our lead and we will go to Congress and partner with Senator Gillibrand and President Obama to create jobs and turn our economy around."

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One of the fun little tidbits in the Republican Budget roll out today is here:

The substitute gradually converts the current Medicare program into one in which Medicare beneficiaries choose the most affordable coverage that best suits their individual needs. For individuals 55 or older, Medicare will not be changed (other than income-relating the prescription drug benefit): the budget preserves the existing program for these beneficiaries. To make the program sustainable and dependable, those 54 and younger will enroll in a new Medicare Program with health coverage similar to what is now available to Members of Congress and Federal employees.

This is an idea that's been kicking around in conservative circles for some time, and it's an expensive one. Well, it's expensive unless you're an insurance company, in which case it's extremely lucrative. The goal is to phase out Medicare over time by providing new seniors with the health insurance options available under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The FEHBP provides relatively high quality care, and most working-aged people would probably prefer its options over the ones provided by their employers. But Medicare provides similar quality of care while containing the costs of administration, and those costs are much higher at private insurance companies.

There's more like this in the GOP's budget report. And, if you're interested in legislative language for some reason, the resolution itself is here.

The DCCC has now released their own fundraising e-mail for the aftermath of the NY-20 special election, preparing for the legal fight ahead. Like the NRCC's e-mail, they too invoke the specter of Al Franken -- but for much different reasons:

We've seen these kinds of tactics before - just look at Al Franken who is still fighting for his seat in the Senate after November's election. We already have a legal team on the ground but we know this is going to be extremely expensive! We need your help again and we wouldn't ask again if it wasn't so critical.

The NRCC referred to Franken as an example of the Democrats stealing an election, in order to bring in some cash. And for the Democrats, Franken is also a useful fundraising theme, as a martyr of the GOP's dirty tricks to keep a rightfully-elected Dem out of office.

Full e-mail after the jump.

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