TPM News

Things got real on the Colbert Report Wednesday. After confessing to Bravo's Andy Cohen that he's just not ready to commit to Mitt, Stephen Colbert turned inward.

Colbert is actually polling ahead of Jon Huntsman in a hypothetical South Carolina race, according to a recent PPP Poll. Colbert apologized to the former Utah governor, who Colbert earlier gave an endorsement. "I guess the Colbert bump reflected off of you and bounced back to me," Colbert said. "That happens in the rare instances when my guests are whiter than I am."

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If a speech Thursday morning by one of his top economists is any indication, President Barack Obama is going all in with the 2012 re-election message of stemming the rise in income inequality and reforming a system that's increasingly perceived to be rigged in favor of the rich.

White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger rattled off a flurry of statistics illustrating the rise of inequality and its connection to the shrinking middle class. He blamed it on economic policies tilted to favor top earners -- including income tax reforms (presumably during the Bush era) and the "drastic cut in the estate tax."

He also argued that implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are eager to repeal, will help reduce the disparities.

It's a message that bore an uncanny resemblance to the "Teddy Roosevelt" speech President Obama delivered in early December, which was interpreted by many as laying out the grounds for his re-election campaign.

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One of the White House's top economists Thursday said recent good economic news is a sign that the economy continues to recover slowly, and suggested it's still susceptible to shocks -- specifically the possibility that Congress will fail to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of the year.

"If you look at the statistics that are coming in, it's clear that they're painting a picture of an economy that is slowly recovering -- slowly but surely recovering," said Council of Economic Advisers chairman Alan Krueger at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress. "I think it's extremely important that we keep that momentum going forward. The steps that I would highlight most importantly are extending the payroll tax cut through the end of the year and extending unemployment insurance benefits. The CBO concluded that of all the measures we've looked at, extending unemployment benefits have the most bang for the buck in terms of supporting demand, raising economic growth and creating jobs."

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There’s a lot of talk abou the first four contests, but days after the Florida primary comes the fifth, the Nevada caucuses on February 4. Today, Rick Santorum announced three leaders for his Nevada organization: “As we begin to build our national campaign team, Nevada will play an important part in maintaining our early state momentum.”

Despite his upset in Iowa, Santorum remains a second-tier candidate in terms of resources, though he has raised several million since his surprise finish in Iowa.

John McCain, Mitt’s campaign surrogate, appeared on Fox News today as another source calling for the Bain attacks on Romney to cease. At the end of the interview though, he was asked by Megyn Kelly about Mike Huckabee’s earlier claim that McCain convinced Fred Thompson to stay in the race in order to split the vote in South Carolina.

“I respect him, but that’s totally false,“ McCain said. "It’s totally patently false, and for him to say something like that, maybe it makes him feel better. All I can say to Governor Huckabee is good luck on your programming on FOX, but you’re not telling the truth.”

Watch McCain get heated below:

The Perry campaign has put up a new video called “Champion.” The 1-minute video is about character building for Perry. It asks, “what makes a champion?” with Perry’s voice discussing that he “I have never quit in the face of adversity.” The second half of the ad then segues into an aspirational video about letting “America be America” with the right “champion” to lead.


Sen. Chuck Grassley said Thursday that the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel memo allowing President Barack Obama to make recess appointments when the Senate is technically in “pro-forma” session is “unconvincing.”

“Its conclusion is at odds with the text of the Constitution and the administration’s own previous statements,” Grassley said in a statement. “It fundamentally alters the careful separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches that the framers crafted in the Constitution. It relies on no Supreme Court decision and many conclusions are unsupported in law or the Constitution. It recognizes that the courts might well disagree. And it flies in the face of more than 90 years of historical practice. Taken together with a laundry list of other assertions of the power to act without Congress, this is clearly an escalation in a pattern of contempt for the elected representatives of the American people. The Senate will need to take action to check and balance President Obama’s blatant attempt to circumvent the Senate and the Constitution, a claim of presidential power that the Bush Administration refused to make.”