TPM News

Barney Frank's House Financial Services committee has released the contract that governed those AIG bonuses. We've posted it here.

No names are given, but you can see the terms of the payments.

Former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel is now vocally blasting his party -- or more specifically, the state of the party as it stands now under the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Steele.

Hagel spoke to David Corn yesterday, describing Rush Limbaugh as "the center of gravity" for the current GOP. "We need a new center of gravity," Hagel made clear.

Hagel was also sharply critical of Michael Steele's public discussion about potential primary challenges to Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe for backing the stimulus bill. "People expect serious people to deal with serious issues and to govern seriously," said Hagel. "And when you don't do that, you become irrelevant."

A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) -- already looking ahead to the 2012 general election! -- pits Barack Obama against Sarah Palin.

The numbers: Obama 55%, Palin 35%. This margin is nearly identical to Obama's approval of 55% and disapproval of 37%. Palin's own personal favorables and unfavorables stand at 39%-50%.

The pollster's analysis has the obvious caveat that we can't know what might happen in the next few years, but these numbers would point to Obama winning over 400 electoral votes.

On the other hand, just think of the stability of our two-party political system, that somebody running against Sarah Palin would only lead by 20 points.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA), have unveiled a plan to prevent future AIG-type bonuses from getting paid out by imposing a 35% excise tax on both individuals and companies involved in such awards.

Baucus' and Grassley's plan closely resembles the bonus tax proposal that Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) added to the economic stimulus bill -- before it was unceremoniously yanked from the final version of the measure.

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Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) told The Hill that he will not become a Democrat -- but he might become an independent.

"I'm staying a Republican because I think I have a more important role to play there," he said. "I think the United States very desperately needs a two-party system. ... And I'm afraid that we're becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party."

On the other hand, Specter left the door open to the idea of running as an independent, though he would continue to caucus as a Republican.

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As outrage swells around massive bonuses paid to executives of bailed out financial institutions, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) wrote a letter Tuesday to Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis requesting more transparency on $3.62 billion in bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch executives. Reviewing the record on these bonuses, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will investigate whether Merrill intentionally deceived regulators. Merrill, which has been owned by B of A since January, claimed in a letter on November 24 that it had not made decisions on bonuses. But subsequent testimony given to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo shows that Merrill approved bonuses on November 11. (Reuters)

Felipe E. Sixto, a former aide to President George W. Bush, will be sentenced today for embezzling $579,247 from Center for a Free Cuba, a government-funded nonprofit organization.

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AIG CEO To Defend Company And Bonuses Before Congress Today AIG CEO Edward Liddy will be testifying today before the House Financial Services subcommittee, defending his company amidst the public uproar over the massive bonuses paid to its Financial Products division. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. ET.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama is holding a closed meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at 10:45 a.m. ET.

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Since the AIG bonus brouhaha broke over the weekend, the hobbled insurance giant has essentially been claiming it had to make the payments because not doing so could have created a "defalt event," potentially exposing taxpayers to losses of hundreds of billions down the road.

That may or may not be a legitimate argument (most experts seem to be saying "not"). But it's worth noting that just a few short years ago, there was a case in which AIG wasn't quite so fastidious about honoring bonus agreements with its employees.

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Here's the newest ad from Jim Tedisco, the Republican candidate for Kirsten Gillibrand's former House seat -- seemingly tying himself to Barack Obama:



Tedisco says: "Like the President says, in these difficult times, we're not Republicans or Democrats -- we're Americans. And that's the team I'm on."

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We might all be waiting on a ruling from the Minnesota election court -- but even that doesn't stop the stream of interesting legal filings in this never-ending dispute.

The Star-Tribune reports that the the Franken campaign submitted over the weekend their specific list of rejected absentee ballots to be considered for counting, and it adds up to 430 envelopes -- 131 more than the number they'd given during closing arguments. All the ballots were already in evidence, so this is still allowable.

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