TPM News

While Republicans spent the last several months threatening to filibuster the Democrats' health care reform bill in the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scrambled to secure 60 votes -- only to have the whole fragile arrangement blow up when Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts senate election last week -- we kept hearing that the relatively recent rise in filibuster threats was a bipartisan phenomenon. Both parties are guilty of this when they're in the minority, we heard.

It's true that there has been a decades-long uptick in the use of cloture filings -- often to overcome filibuster threats -- by whichever party is in the majority, but the best measurement of that trend shows an explosion since Republicans were consigned to minority status after the 2006 election.

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The Campaign For Liberty, a conservative activist group launched by supporters of Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign, has a new $350,000 ad buy in Colorado. The ad praises Ken Buck, a district attorney running in the contested GOP primary for Senate, for having returned their issues survey.

"Buck's a leader in fighting Obama's health care takeover, reducing taxes, and stopping out of control government spending," the announcer says. "Thank Ken Buck for championing conservative Colorado values. Urge the other candidates to follow his leadership and stand up for freedom, by returning their Campaign For Liberty candidate surveys today."

Gary Howard, communications director for the Campaign For Liberty, told TPMDC that the ad is not an endorsement of Buck, but is instead intended to promote their candidate surveys. "It's not a support ad or an endorsement ad, it's just based on our candidate surveys," said Howard. "And we want every candidate to answer our surveys. So as soon as another candidate answers our survey, we'll probably do another ad stating that."

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The groundswell of support for health care "Plan B" continues. The liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities makes the case that Democrats would be well within their rights--and within the bounds of tradition--to use the filibuster-proof reconciliation process to tweak the Senate health care bill...and that the tweaks being considered will strengthen the bill.

CBPP notes that, in the past, the reconciliation process has been used to make policy, including welfare reform, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, and health care programs like CHIP, Medicare Advantage, and COBRA (which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).

You can read their reports here and here.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) provided an interesting take on bipartisanship today, saying that "when it comes to bipartisan legislation you've got to look at the balance. If the balance leans in our direction, and things that we believe in, I would think that we would support it."

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The conservative think tank to which James O'Keefe and at least one of his alleged co-plotters have ties enjoys a prominent voice in Louisiana politics -- and has lately gone hard after ACORN.

O'Keefe -- who gained national notoriety last fall for his ACORN sting -- and three other men were arrested Monday after allegedly trying to tamper with phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu. O'Keefe, was scheduled to give a speech last week on investigative journalism to the Pelican Institute. Robert Flanagan, who was arrested with O'Keefe, works at Pelican, according to his lawyer, and has written blog posts on policy issues on Pelican's website.

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Pat Toomey, the man who drove Sen. Arlen Specter from the Republican party last year, is now threatening to drive the Democrats from the Pennsylvania Senate seat they've held since Specter left the GOP last April. A new poll from Franklin & Marshall University shows that among registered voters, Toomey is tied with Specter and leads Rep. Joe Sestak, who's challenging Specter for the Democratic nomination.

Among likely voters, Toomey leads both men by double-digits. He's ahead of Specter 45-31, and leads Sestak 41-19. Inside those numbers, Franklin & Marshall polling director Dr. G. Terry Madonna told me, is a similar story seen in the 2009 gubernatorial elections and last week's Massachusetts Senate race: Toomey's voters are far more motivated and excited about the race than Democratic supporters.

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The Indiana Republican Party is officially disapproving of remarks by Richard Behney, a Tea Party activist who is seeking the GOP nomination to run against Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, and who declared that if the 2010 elections don't turn out right he would be "cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show."

"We don't condone this type of rhetoric and feel it is unhelpful in promoting constructive debate," said state GOP chairman Murray Clark, in a statement e-mailed to TPMDC. "We continue to encourage anyone seeking political change to do so through the electoral process and to discuss the issues of the day in a civil manner."

In a video that was posted online in late December, but has received wider attention in the last few days, Behney told a political gathering: "I believe personally, we're at a crossroads. We have one last opportunity. And I believe 2010 is it. All right? And we can do it with our vote. And we can get new faces in, whether it's my face or not, I pray to God that I see new faces. And if we don't see new faces, I'm cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I'm serious about that, and I bet you are, too. But I know none of us want to go that far yet, and we can do it with our vote." (Watch the video here.)