TPM News

Republicans didn't pick up the Senate last week. But they did pick up six seats and will have several new members coming to town next year, which means the committees will be rejiggered -- and the leaders of those committees will play the biennial game of musical chairs.

According to top aides, the reshuffling won't be too dramatic this time around. On any particular committee, Democrats adhere to a seniority system to determine who moves up the ladder. Republicans let the members choose who gets the top spot.

With that in mind, here's one likely reshuffling scenario.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who has the reputation of being a moderate New England Republican, doesn't seem to be getting on board with the recent hard-right push from the Tea Partiers. In fact, the Kennebec Journal reports, she's even badmouthing Sarah Palin for costing the GOP Senate seats -- and she thinks Palin would rather be a "celebrity commentator" than run for president and govern:

Collins said Palin will be weakened if Sen. Lisa Murkowski wins her write-in campaign for re-election in Alaska. Election officials say enough write-in votes were cast that Murkowski could be the winner.


Collins does not expect Palin to run for president.

"I think she likes being a celebrity commentator for Fox and a speaker and being able to provide for her family," Collins said. "I think that life appeals to her. It's a lot easier to charge people up than to actually govern."

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) plans to have his future subcommittee chairs -- Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), among others -- to hold one or two hearings a week each, for a total of seven hearings a week during a 40-week period. Chaffetz, the current ranking member of the subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Post Office, and the District of Columbia, told TPMmuckraker that he's up for that challenge.

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Leading House Democrats are still hoping to resolve a thickening leadership dispute pitting Majority Leader Steny Hoyer against Majority Whip James Clyburn, both of whom would like to be minority whip next Congress.

On MSNBC this morning, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) -- currently chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, and one of Nancy Pelosi's closest allies on the Hill -- said he thinks the two could figure out a compromise.

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Rep.-elect Allen West (R-FL), who built his conservative political career on the torture-related incident that ended his tenure in the military, has gone back to his conservative base with a key staff hire.

As the Palm Beach Post reports, West has tapped local talk-radio host Joyce Kaufman, who has made a name for herself through her fiery denunciations of illegal immigration, to be his new Chief of Staff:

A proud Puerto Rican Jew, Kaufman became a de facto spokeswoman for South Florida's anti-illegal immigration movement in 2007. She hit a raw nerve with her mostly white, mostly older WFTL audience, and watched her ratings shoot up, when she broadcast that she quit buying cable TV from Comcast after the company's answering system asked her to "Press 1 for English."

She's had a few on-air doozies since, including when she demanded that illegal aliens be hung on the central square! That got her some heat from the Federal Communications Commission.

And that's not all. Kaufman has also made some fascinating comments on the subject of armed rebellion against the United States government.

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There's a partisan divide over the issue of political compromise versus ideological steadfastness, according to a newly released USA Today/Gallup poll.

When asked about the "best approach for political leaders to follow in Washington," 41% of Republican respondents maintain that "it is more important for political leaders to stick to their beliefs even if little gets done," while only 18% of Democratic respondents express the same sentiment. This contention is put in opposition to the claim that "it is more important for political leaders to compromise in order to get things done," which 59% of Democrats support versus only 32% of Republicans.

Overall, the findings suggest Americans generally prefer their political leaders to compromise (47%) rather than sticking to their beliefs (27%).

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Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert last night did their best to entice former President George W. Bush to come on their shows, offering easy interviews and tasty gifts.

Following the release of his memoir "Decision Points," Bush has embarked on a media blitz, and is set to appear on, as Stewart lamented, "NBC, CBS, Fox, Fox, Fox, and Fox and more Fox ... you get the point." But alas, not The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.

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Voters last week sent Washington a strong message about fixing the federal budget, according to exclusive numbers from a new poll obtained by TPM: Raise taxes on the wealthy and cut the military budget before you touch the nation's largest entitlement program, Social Security.

The survey of voters who cast ballots last Tuesday -- conducted by Democratic pollster PPP and commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee -- found that when respondents were given the choice between cutting the defense budget, raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit, just 12% said they'd like to see the entitlement program cut. Forty-three percent said they'd prefer to see taxes on the wealthy go up, and 22% said cutting the huge defense budget was the best way to go.

The PCCC hailed the result as evidence that voters are not ready to embrace the conservative economic agenda, even after they just voted a huge number of new conservatives into Congress.

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