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Jed Lewison, writing at Daily Kos, observes that GM's Rick Wagoner isn't the only CEO at a bailed-out company to be asked to step down by the government -- a counterpoint to the double-standard question raised today by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), and numerous media outlets (including TPMDC).

It's true that the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve asked Robert Willumstad to resign after three months in AIG's top spot, and that Fannie and Freddie's CEOs were also asked to resign last year.

Here's where those cases diverge from GM: the government controlled the majority of AIG when it ousted Willumstad and had already placed Fannie and Freddie directly into conservatorship when it booted their CEOs. The government also has become a leading shareholder at Bank of America and Citigroup, while taking the discrete step of lending money to GM ... while planning on showing the door to upwards of half of GM's board in the coming days.

None of this is intended to take a side in the double-standard debate that TPM readers have dismissed as a false equivalency -- merely to observe that it would be equally false to compare the circumstances behind Wagoner's resignation to those behind the AIG and Fannie-Freddie departures.

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laid the smackdown on progressive grassroots groups that are marshaling their efforts against a group of conservative Democrats. But did the grassroots get the message?

It's becoming difficult not to conclude just that. When reports of Reid's statements broke, I put out calls to some of the more high-profile groups--including Campaign for America's Future (CAF), MoveOn, and Americans United for Change (AUC)--and the response has been...telling.

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The Minnesota DFL Party just put out a scathing press release regarding NRSC chairman John Cornyn's statement that the legal processes surrounding the disputed Senate election could last "years." The release declares: "Minnesotans, not Washington (or Texas), will decide who will represent them in the U.S. Senate."

Key quote from party chairman Brian Melendez:

"Former Senator Coleman's own attorney acknowledges that he'll lose his lawsuit. And apparently, the national Republicans have even less faith in his appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court. But once Coleman's state appeals have run their course, the game is over. If he keeps filing more lawsuits, then he can do it after Senator Franken gets sworn in."

There's one thing that has be asked about NRSC chairman John Cornyn's bold statement that it could take "years" to resolve the Minnesota Senate situation: While it would obviously benefit D.C. Republicans to keep Al Franken out of the chamber, wouldn't this also trigger a huge backlash against the state GOP?

I asked Prof. Lawrence Jacobs of the University of Minnesota what sort of problems it could create for the state Republicans, if the national party were to keep the state without full representation for such a long time. And here's what he said:

Senator Cornyn's strategy may make political sense for Washington Republicans eager to maintain their leverage through the filibuster. But this national strategy could backfire in Minnesota against state Republicans coming into a big 2010 election year. Usually, the president's party loses seats in the Midterm election but a backlash against Minnesota Republicans could hurt them in the race for Governor and for the competitive congressional races for the seats currently held by Michele Bachmann and by first year Representative Erik Paulsen.


It should be noted that this isn't really Cornyn's problem -- there is no Senate election scheduled for 2010 in Minnesota. But could such an impasse really imperil Bachmann? Nooooooo!

Remember that ongoing FBI investigation of PMA, the lobbying group with close ties to Democratic power-broker Rep. John Murtha?

Well, up until now, House Democrats -- led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who's a close ally of Murtha, the powerful Defense Appropriations subcommittee chair -- have been successful on fending off GOP calls for a congressional probe of the matter. But that may be changing...

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It's an admittedly over-simplified question, but one that's lingered in the background today after the Obama administration insisted on the resignation of GM CEO Rick Wagoner: Is the government insisting on stronger concessions from Detroit than it is from Wall Street, despite the latter's receipt of a far bigger taxpayer bailout?

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) just told reporters that he believes there has been "a double standard for a long time in terms of the treatment of the financial industry, compared [with] the way the auto industry has been treated. It's something we've fought against ... but something we've got to live with and deal with."

Levin added that it would be a distraction to lament banking CEOs' ability to keep their jobs while boasting managerial records nearly as dismal as Wagoner's (Bank of America chief Ken Lewis and Citigroup chief Vikram Pandit are the names that often spring to mind).

When the senator was asked if he advised the president not to fire Wagoner, however, Levin offered a curious demurral:

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Last week we reported that the House Financial Services committee's ranking member, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) is asking chairman Barney Frank and the Treasury department to look into the cases of smaller U.S. banks that are allegedly being stiffed on their loans to an AIG subsidiary while its major CDS counterparties are paid off in full.

In a story that may shed some light on his complaint, the Wall Street Journal reports today on the cases of two businesses who partnered with AIG on real estate development projects and are now fighting to get AIG to contribute its share of cash to pay project expenses:

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Al Franken addressed the Minnesota Young DFL convention in St. Paul on Saturday, thanking everyone, especially young voters and supporters, for all their help in bringing him to his super-narrow win:



"First of all, thank you. You know, when you win by 225 votes, it's fair to say that no effort really went to waste," said Franken, as the audience laughed. He then thanked everyone for all the great victories that Minnesota Democrats had in electing Barack Obama, increasing their majorities in the state legislature, and sending their five House members back. "And yes -- we took Paul Wellstone's seat back," he added, before being answered by applause.

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We should have seen this one coming -- government officials who helped respond to the financial crisis, now cashing in by helping private sector clients "navigate the new world of finance."

That's what David Nason, a former assistant treasury secretary under Hank Paulson will be doing for clients of Promontary Financial Group, which he's joining as a managing director, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.). Nason, who had a major hand in drawing up Treasury's bailout plan last fall, "is expected to advise big financial institutions on everything from how to participate in the government's rescue programs to meeting regulatory requirements."

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As he rolled out one last reprieve for the nation's troubled automakers, President Obama also restarted a legislative push that ran out of gas during last month's stimulus talks: a $10,000 rebate offer to car owners who traded in their old models for more fuel-efficient wheels.

The "cash for clunkers" plan was originally proposed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), at a total cost of about $16 billion. It was dropped from the stimulus amid GOP opposition, but Obama said today that he would "work with Congress to identify parts of the recovery act that could be trimmed to fund such a program and make it retroactive starting today."

Could that strong presidential endorsement give the rebate plan the momentum it needs to win quick congressional approval? Stay tuned... Late Update: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who sponsored a $4,500 version of the "cash for clunkers" rebate alongside Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), has just released a statement promising to work quickly on complying with the president's request:

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