TPM News

Who is the most powerful woman in American politics? Is it Nancy Pelosi, who just pushed landmark health care reform through a reticent Congress? Is it Michelle Obama, whose stratospheric approval ratings make her the envy of everyone in the political universe?

No, it's neither. The most powerful woman of all, or so it seems, is the junior senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand (D). Think about it: Who else could be associated with David Paterson and not be politically radioactive? Who else could scare off challenger after challenger from both sides without spending a dime?

Meet Kirsten Gillibrand, who apparently can't be stopped by man nor woman nor even Rudy Giuliani.

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There have been numerous stories in recent weeks speculating about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's future. He might be a cursing administration staffer who rubs people the wrong way, but he has President Obama's confidence and just helped the Democrats achieve a major political win with health care reform.

Emanuel, a former member of Congress, was a critical member of the Democratic leadership team that helped win back control of the House in 2006. He's been known to have higher political aspirations and didn't initially want the top White House job. Emanuel worked in the Clinton White House as well.

Chiefs of staff at the White House historically have short tenure in part because the job is so stressful. So, will he stay on?

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Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on Fox News last night and suggested that Dems should have kept quiet about recent threats and vandalism targeting lawmakers for their health care votes. By doing otherwise, Price and Bachmann told host Sean Hannity, Democrats were politicizing the incidents.

Bachmann agreed with Hannity that the Democrats' real goal was to smear the Tea Party movement.

She also said she's been the victim of vandalism and threats in the past, but had chosen to keep quiet about them.

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In an interview Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) attacked the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the newly passed health care reform bill, despite his support for an individual mandate in 1993.

"In 1993, we were trying to kill HillaryCare, and I didn't pay any attention to [the individual mandate], because that was a part of a bill I just hadn't centered on," Hatch said in an interview with CNN's Campbell Brown, "but since then, of course, 17 years later, when it comes up and I know it's possible it's going to pass, I looked at it, and constitutionally, I came to the conclusion, and everyone came to the conclusion, that this would be the first time in history that the federal government requires you to buy something you don't want."

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We've told you about the 13 state attorneys general who have filed suit to get health-care reform declared unconstitutional. But spare a thought for another state official who's desperate to get in on the fun too -- but so far in vain.

That's Gov. Jim Gibbons of Nevada. On Wednesday, the GOP governor called on his state's attorney general, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, to sign the Silver State onto the lawsuit, citing a state law that gives the governor the power to direct that legal action be taken "to protect and secure the interest" of the state.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is continuing to denounce what she says is a pattern of government takeovers of the economy -- going so far as to say that the economy used to be totally private.

"And what we saw this Tuesday, once the president signed the health care bill at the 11th hour in the morning on Tuesday, that effected 51% government takeover of the private economy," Bachmann said on Wednesday, during an interview with North Dakota talk radio host Scott Hennen. "It is really quite sobering what has happened. From 100% of our economy was private prior to September of 2008, but as of Tuesday, the federal government has now taken ownership or control of 51% of the private economy."

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The White House Press Office just released the following statement outlining key features of the New START Treaty with Russia that President Obama announced this morning:

Treaty Structure: The New START Treaty is organized in three tiers of increasing level of detail. The first tier is the Treaty text itself. The second tier consists of a Protocol to the Treaty, which contains additional rights and obligations associated with Treaty provisions. The basic rights and obligations are contained in these two documents. The third tier consists of Technical Annexes to the Protocol. All three tiers will be legally binding. The Protocol and Annexes will be integral parts of the Treaty and thus submitted to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.

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