TPM News

Freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA) has come up with an interesting solution to the political debate over the pending expiration of the payroll tax cut: Have workers voluntarily choose whether to continue the cut for themselves -- with the tradeoff that for every calendar year they claim the tax cut, they would also cut their own Social Security, delaying the start of benefits by one month.

The Hill reports that Landry is pitching the bill as an addition to the debate over payroll tax cut's expiration, which has hinged on the fact that the payroll tax is used to finance Social Security. (Republicans have refused Democratic efforts to pay for the tax cut by raising other taxes on the wealthy.)

Many workers would likely see their taxes go up -- but that would be because they declined to cut their future Social Security benefits.

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Priorities USA, a Democratic Super PAC dedicated to re-election President Obama, is out with a new strategy memo detailing what they think is Mitt Romney's biggest vulnerability: voters just don't like him.

The memo notes that Romney's personal favorability has gone down across the board in state polls despite a campaign that's been considered relatively smooth by observers.

"He's faced no new scandals, no recent damaging gaffes, no problems raising money, no problems with his campaign operation, no difficult political environment, and no unsafe policy proposals," the memo reads. "Looks like the cause of Mitt Romney's drop in popularity is... Mitt Romney himself."

Priorities USA identifies Romney's "flip flop" problem as the key to his woes, noting that even in New Hampshire, where he's held leads against the GOP field all year, some 43% of Republican voters say he "will do or say anything to win."

The implication is clear for Democrats: keep hitting him on the issue and don't let up.

The full memo below:

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FAA chief Randy Babbitt has resigned, NBC News reports. Babbitt was placed on administrative leave after a drunk driving arrest over the weekend.

Babbitt released the following statement:

“Today I submitted my resignation to Secretary Ray LaHood and it has been accepted. Serving as FAA Administrator has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career. But I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my colleagues at the FAA. They run the finest and safest aviation system in the world and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work alongside them. I am confident in their ability to successfully carry out all of the critical safety initiatives underway and the improvements that the FAA has planned. I also want to thank Secretary LaHood for his leadership and dedication to the safety of the traveling public.”

The rising and falling fortunes of the Republican presidential candidates has -- at least until recently -- produced a field where everyone is seemingly in contention and yet no one can be decided upon. It's a practical problem for Republicans, as the Iowa caucuses are now less than a month away, so the time for a choice is nigh. But according to new data from the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post, the fluidity of the race is not just a frustrating affair for the party faithful -- independent and Democratic voters are also turned off by the whole thing.

A plurality of independents -- 29 percent -- say that their impression of the Republican Party is souring having watched the primary process play out the way it has, along with 53 Democrats, who likely didn't think much of Republicans in the first place. Ten percent of indies say the primary race has made their view of the GOP rosier, and 55 percent say its made no difference at all.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has a tangled history with Newt Gingrich, having helped organize a failed attempt to oust him as Speaker in 1997 while serving in the House. But he says he and Gingrich are talking again and he has at least some hope that the presidential candidate has ironed out his problems.

"I talked to him for about an hour last week," Graham told reporters. "He certainly doesn't hold grudges because the coup was held in my office."

Gingrich has attracted few endorsements -- and some very public criticism -- from the lawmakers he used to lead in the House. Graham told TPM that Gingrich was a mixed bag based on his record.

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Donald Trump, via a spokesman, released the following statement after Mitt Romney said he will not participate in the businessman’s debate later this month, via HuffPost’s Sam Stein:

“It would seem logical to me that if I was substantially behind in the polls, especially in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, I would be participating in the debate. But, I can also understand why Governor Romney decided not to do it.”

One protester was arrested for unlawful entry at a Republican representative’s office, CNN reports, on the first official day of Occupy Wall Street’s “Take Back the Capitol” protest in Washington.

Mitt Romney’s taking questions from the press, and it’s being carried live on CNN. He’s asked about the recent attack ads that call him a “career politician” and cast him as a Washington insider. Romney replies, “Well, I ran for office, but I didn’t win.” He says that losing those races means he’s not been a career politician as he’s gone back into business (and, indeed, the Massachusetts governorship) in between. He concludes about that line of attack: “Had I won we wouldn’t be having this argument; I’d be President of the United States.”

Romney ran for the MA Senate in 1994, and lost. He then ran for the MA governorship in 2002 and won. He previously ran for President in 2008.

Mitt Romney says he will be seeing reporters and television news shows “a lot more often.”

“It’s time to get our message out,” he said.

Romney is scheduled to appear on Fox News Sunday this weekend.