TPM News

Surely, during one of the most severe economic downturns in our nation's history, Americans of all stripes fastidiously check their paystubs to calculate exactly how much withholding the local, state and federal governments are taking. What's that? You don't? You didn't know that payroll taxes have been reduced by two percent since the beginning of last year?

Well you do now. And that's the big bonus to the Obama victory on the payroll tax cut, a previously lesser known component of the 2010 deal on the Bush tax cut extension. The very public fight over the legislation has been won by Democrats eyeing traction in 2012, igniting media interest in the policy and subsequent image of the House GOP with political egg on their face.

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With Christmas just around the corner, leave it up to those jolly little elves on the curvy couch to remind us all that this is actually a very dangerous time of year.

The Friends were filled with holiday cheer this morning as they reminded us all that the government will make things worse next year. And the best thing you can do this Christmas? Buy insurance!

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The recall signatures have not yet been filed against Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) -- but he is already running a heavy TV advertising campaign, fighting out the election that is yet to be officially triggered.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

At the outset of Wisconsin's historic recall fight, GOP Gov. Scott Walker and his allies are outspending the other side on television by a margin of roughly 4-to-1, an advantage he's expected to maintain in the weeks ahead.

The governor has already aired more than $1 million in broadcast ads since he hit the airwaves in mid-November, according to the ad-tracking firm Kantar Media CMAG.

When you include cable ads and time bought for spots that haven't aired yet, Walker's TV spending easily exceeds $2 million, according to two political sources tracking media buys.

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The Des Moines Register reports:

Michele Bachmann, in one of her last campaign stops before the Christmas break, blasted the extension of the payroll tax cut.

“This is a reason why I’m running for president, because D.C. is obviously broken. They’re not listening to the people here in Iowa. People in Iowa have said to me, ‘Why in the world would the politicians take money out of the Social Security trust fund, just when it needs it more than ever?’”

Asked if her House Republican colleagues “caved” by agreeing to a payroll tax extension, Bachmann said she’s been warning them for a year not to go down this road. She said taking $111 billion out of the Social Security trust will only add to the national debt. “It was a mistake a year ago, and it’s a mistake today,” she said.

Ron Paul's campaign tells TPM that the presidential candidate did not write a signed direct mail piece in 1993 aimed at attracting subscribers to his newsletter by warning of a "coming race war" and a "federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS."

"Dr. Paul did not write that mail piece and disavows its content," spokesman Jesse Benton said in an e-mail.

Earlier, Paul's Iowa chair Drew Ivers told Reuters, who first posted the direct mail piece online, that Paul took responsibility for content bearing his signature even if he likely does not "embrace" some of the letter's more extreme views. But Benton said that Ivers was not in a position to comment.

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Michele Bachmann on Friday announced a series of television, radio and web ads that will run in Iowa ahead of the Jan. 3 caucuses. The ads feature testimonials from voters at Bachmann’s various appearances across the state of Iowa. Watch the ads:

This fall, Bob Vander Plaats had discussions with campaigns about getting money to promote his endorsement, and Santorum, who received the endorsement, had been approached about the issue. It’s not clear if anything illegal happened, but a progressive non-profit called Progress Iowa is circulating a petition to the FEC to investigate the matter.