TPM News

Progressives frustrated with a lack of action in Washington despite a strong majority are pointing at the close race for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts with a stern "I told you so" sentiment.

Polls showing Attorney General Martha Coakley closely matched with state Sen. Scott Brown have shocked national Democrats, who are deploying their full muscle north and spending money in a state that hasn't seen a competitive race for Senate in more than 13 years.

Most campaign-type Democrats think Coakley will pull out a victory Tuesday despite a lackluster campaign and independents and undecideds rapidly slipping from their column, but some openly warn that a close race in the Bay State is a real warning sign for November's mid-term elections.

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The Service Employees International Union is up with a new ad in the Massachusetts special Senate election, reminding voters in this Democratic state that GOP candidate Scott Brown is a Republican -- and tying him to the Tea Parties and Sarah Palin.

"He calls himself independent, but voted with Republican leadership 96% of the time," the announcer says. "Brown has repeatedly opposed a woman's right to choose. And now the Globe says Brown expresses skepticism that climate change is being caused by humans."

"No wonder Brown's campaign is being supported by the same extremist group that backs Sarah Palin."

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This morning, President Obama will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to paper over major differences between the two chambers' health care bills.

At issue will be how to modify Reid's bill in a way that it can pass the House without making re-passage in the Senate impossible. The most contentious outstanding issue is simply how to pay for reform. The Senate and the White House stand behind a tax that generates major savings, but also hits a segment of middle class Americans, and has raised the ire of unions--a key Democratic constituency. The House (and labor) would prefer the wealthy to bear the cost. However, a number of potential compromises seem to be on the table as Democratic negotiators seek common ground.

Separately, there's the question of whether new health insurance marketplaces will be organized and regulated at the national level (as in the House bill) or at the state level (as in the Senate bill). Obama reportedly backs the House on this issue, and last night Pelosi made clear that she views a national exchange as a necessary part of a successful reform effort.

"The national exchange is essential to having a working plan," Pelosi told reporters.

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Obama To Announce Bank Fee Proposal Tomorrow President Obama will reportedly announce tomorrow that he is proposing a new fee on bailed-out financial firms, with the goal of recovering $120 billion in taxpayers' money used to prop up the corporations during the economic crisis. The proposal comes as banks that were rescued by the government a year ago are now enjoying profits and about to pay heavy bonuses to their executives.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9 a.m. ET. He will meet at 9:30 a.m. ET with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and with other members of the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate at 10 a.m. ET. At 2:30 p.m. ET, he will tour the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee Center in Lanham, Maryland, and he will deliver remarks at 2:55 p.m. ET on clean energy jobs. He will meet with senior advisers at 4 p.m. ET, and receive the economic daily briefing at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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What did top banking executives know about the events that led to the near-collapse of the financial system in 2008, and when did they know it? Those are two of the questions that we may start getting answers to this morning, when the commission probing the causes of the crisis holds its first public hearing.

The CEOS of four bailed-out banking behemoths -- Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, John Mack of Morgan Stanley, and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America -- all will go before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in Washington today.

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In her much-anticipated debut as a Fox News analyst on The O'Reilly Factor last night, Sarah Palin offered her analysis on several of the allegations made about her by authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in their new book "Game Change," calling them "pretty made-up," "a lie," "a bunch of b.s.," and "crap." However she confirmed one charge: that in preparing for her 2008 vice presidential debate she questioned whether Saddam Hussein could've been behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

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Remember the bogus "one-way ticket" meme we told you about earlier this week? That's the false idea that's been ricocheting around the media that Umar Abdulmutallab bought a one-way fare to fly to Detroit on Christmas, supposedly another red flag missed by authorities.

Well the myth was repeated so many times, the Obama Administration had to go to Congress to disabuse members of the idea. The Los Angeles Times reports:

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has bought $567,000 in TV ad time for the Massachusetts special Senate election, is up with its first attack ad against Republican nominee Scott Brown.

The ad looks to take apart Brown's folksy, populist image, by telling voters to look "under the hood" of the pickup truck that he's been driving around the state. "On health care? Brown wants to be the deciding vote to kill Ted Kennedy's legislation," the announcer says, tying the debate over the health care bill to the legacy of the late Ted Kennedy.

The announcer then says that Brown has voted against funding for education, as well. "That's the real Scott Brown," the announcer concludes, with on-screen text also reminding voters in this Democratic state that Brown is a Republican. "Don't let him take us - or our kids -- for a ride."

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