TPM News

Check out the opening line of this new fundraising e-mail from the DSCC, officially authored by DSCC chairman Bob Menendez, seeking to bring in some last-minute cash for the end of the quarter:

Dear Friend,

The Republicans think that betting against America is the way to beat us on Election Day. I know that betting on you is a surefire way to prove them wrong.


(Emphasis in the original.)

The Democrats are now running on flag-waving and running down the other guy's patriotism. What an amazing time we live in.

The Obama administration's candid "viability assessments" of GM and Chrysler emphasize one unsurprising but unfortunate theme: Both auto companies have contributed to their own financial demise by relying on gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs instead of cultivating more fuel-efficient cars.

Here's the relevant excerpt from GM's White House status report:

GM earns a disproportionate share of its profits from high-margin trucks and SUVs and is thus vulnerable to energy cost-driven shifts in consumer demand. For example, of its top 20 profit contributors in 2008, only nine were cars.


And the administration's take on Chrysler was even more grim:

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Following in the footsteps of martyr to truth Jake DeSantis, another AIG Financial Products exec just can't help himself from going public about how unfairly he's being treated by just about everyone from his employer, to Congress, to Andrew Cuomo. But a blog post by his wife may be even more interesting....

The blog Clusterstock has posted a long rant from London-based Paul Harriman, which originally appeared on the site Live Journal. The predictable gist: Harriman complains that without his bonus, he won't be able to afford his $10,000 a month apartment and his kids' school fees.

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Check out this obviously uncomfortable exchange between Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate in tomorrow's special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat, and a reporter from this past Thursday night. Tedisco tried to deny that he'd referred to the stimulus bill as pork -- even though he and his campaign have done so on multiple occasions.

Tedisco was asked about two things, essentially -- characterizing the stimulus bill as containing $300 billion in pork or wasteful spending, and his attack that Dem candidate Scott Murphy should have read the whole bill due to the AIG bonus flap:



For the record, a Google search shows Tedisco or his campaign spokesman being directly quoted using the word "pork" here and here. Indeed, before he had officially announced his opposition to the bill, he had been referring to aspects of it as "Washington-style, Mickey-Mouse pork barrel politics at its worst," in this press release on his campaign's Web site.

Check out the relevant transcript, after the jump.

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The budget reconciliation flame wars continue today, with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad reiterating once again his aversion to using the process as a vehicle for health care reform legislation. In a conference call with reporters, Conrad, for the first time, moved beyond simply reiterating his aversion to the tactic and addressed the fact that reconciliation may be the only hope for reform. But he still hasn't addressed the merits of the plan proposed by reconciliation supporters.

Here's what he said:

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In the highly competitive race for the title of "Stupidest Recent Financial Decision Made By A Government Official", this one's got to be a strong contender....

The Boston Globe reports:

Just months before the start of last year's stock market collapse, the federal agency that insures the retirement funds of 44 million Americans departed from its conservative investment strategy and decided to put much of its $64 billion insurance fund into stocks.

Switching from a heavy reliance on bonds, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation decided to pour billions of dollars into speculative investments such as stocks in emerging foreign markets, real estate, and private equity funds.

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President Obama is about to administer tough medicine to GM and Chrysler, giving them 60 days and 30 days, respectively, to formulate workable plans for financial survival -- in addition to securing the resignation of GM CEO Rick Wagoner.

Wagoner's departure hardly comes as a shock, given that the once-mighty General Motors began its current swoon under his stewardship. But Michiganders and Wall Street analysts alike are pointedly asking the same question Josh raised last night at the TPM mothership: Why did the Obama administration call for Wagoner's head but allow ineffectual banking CEOs to stay on the job and the government dole?

Here's how Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (MI), the third-ranked House Republican leader, put it to Reuters:

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Kirsten Gillibrand has recorded a new robocall getting out the vote for Scott Murphy, the Democratic candidate in tomorrow's special election to fill her old House seat:



"Scott Murphy will work with me and President Obama to get our economy moving again," said Gillibrand. "This is going to be a very close election, and Scott needs your support."

This past Friday's Siena poll, which showed Murphy taking a four-point lead after having trailed throughout the campaign, gave Gillibrand a favorable rating of 76% to only 18% unfavorable, and Obama had a favorable of 65%-28%. So as much as robocalls are normally pretty annoying things, having Gillibrand call and name-drop Obama might not be such a bad idea.

The Minnesota election dispute has now lasted for almost five months, with the seat vacant for the last three of them -- but that might just be the beginning, with NRSC chairman John Cornyn telling the Politico that it could take "years" to resolve.

Cornyn, of course, is promising Republican resistance to any potential effort to seat Al Franken while Norm Coleman continues to challenge the result. And Cornyn is clear that this means Franken can't be certified the winner if Coleman takes it to the federal courts, not just at the state level. But Cornyn seems to be going into new territory when he says it could take "years" to fix this thing.

TPM asked DSCC communications director Eric Schultz for comment. "Republicans have made it clear they will hold this Senate seat hostage in order to pursue their political agenda - at the hefty expense of Minnesota having full representation in Congress," said Schultz. "We're all awaiting the three-judge panel to return its verdict, and once they do, we will have yet another confirmation that Al Franken won the election - and hopefully he can get to Washington to do the job he was elected to do."

Immigration courts are too backed up to provide speedy trials for tens of thousands of immigrants, according to a USA Today study released this weekend. Based on a review of court cases between 2003 and 2008, the study found that almost 90,000 accused illegal immigrants had to wait at least two years to have their case heard before a judge and 14,000 had to wait nearly five years. A spokesman for the American Immigration Lawyers Association said that U.S. immigration courts, which only employ 224 judges, simply do not have enough resources. San Francisco immigration judge Dana Marks told USA Today, "you could have a case that would take an hour (to hear). But I can't give you that hour of time for 14 months." (USA Today)

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