TPM News

Democratic leaders tonight will appeal to the split factions among House Democrats to try and come up with a game plan for whether to hold a pre-election vote on extending the Bush-era tax cuts for just the middle class, top aides tell TPM.

The party is far from unified on the issue, with conservative members wanting to either extend all the tax cuts permanently, while many in the middle hoping to extend them just temporarily, given the recession. But top members of the House Democratic leadership think it's a political victory to extend them on the first $250,000 of income and to paint any Republican opponents of that plan as wanting only to help the super-rich.

House Democrats will hold a leadership meeting this evening, followed by a 6:30 p.m. caucus meeting with every member. A senior leadership aide described the issue as the most prominent on the agenda, which also will include a check-in about how the party's campaigning went over the weekend.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today promised pop star Lady Gaga, via the Twitter machine, that he will hold a vote on Don't Ask, Don't Tell next week.

Reid announced yesterday that the Senate will vote sometime next week on the 2011 defense authorization bill, which includes a provision to repeal DADT.

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The new Fox News poll of the Florida Senate race has very good news for Republican Marco Rubio, with him holding a commanding lead over independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek.

The numbers: Rubio 43%, Crist 27%, and Meek 21%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3% margin of error. There is no prior Fox News poll of this race -- but this one was conducted through a Rasmussen offshoot, Pulse Opinion Research, and the previous Rasmussen poll from late August had Rubio ahead by 40%-30%-21%.

The poll's internals show the worst-case scenario for Dems of Meek and the ex-Republican Crist splitting the Dem vote, with Meek ahead of Crist 46%-39% with that demographic, plus 11% for Rubio. Among Republicans, Rubio is ahead of Crist and Meek by 74%-13%-4% -- meaning that Crist is not holding on to much of his old Republican base, if these numbers are accurate -- and among independents Rubio leads Crist and Meek by 39%-33%-9%.

The TPM Poll Average puts Rubio ahead of Crist and Meek by 38.1%-32.1%-20.3%.

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If you need a friend in Washington, get a dog, the saying goes. Well, the Office of Congressional Ethics could be headed for the pound.

Both Republicans and Democrats are unhappy with the OCE, and no matter what side of the aisle wins in November, the office will likely be neutered or forced the close its doors, the National Journal reports.

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Two new polls of the Nevada Senate race show Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tied or narrowly ahead of his Republican opponent Sharron Angle.

From Reuters/Ipsos: Reid 46%, Angle 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.6% margin of error. The previous Reuters/Ipsos poll from early August put Reid ahead by 48%-44%.

From Rasmussen: Reid 48%, Angle 48%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. The previous Rasmussen poll from two weeks ago put Reid ahead by 50%-47%.

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Republicans are trying to limit any damage John Boehner may have done by agreeing, reluctantly, if given no other choice, to support allowing tax cuts on the rich to expire. But at least one very prominent House member held the exact same view just two months ago -- and he's the GOP's top policy guy.

In a July 23 Associated Press story, Rep. David Camp (R-MI) acknowledged that he'd have a hard time voting to block a tax cut package that didn't extend cuts for the wealthy.

"I'll probably vote for it myself," said Camp, who serves as ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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The Saudi diplomat who began seeking asylum in the United States because he is gay is now receiving death threats, his lawyer told TPMMuckraker Tuesday.

Ali Ahmad Asseri, the first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, spoke with NBC News' Michael Isikoff last weekend about his request for asylum in the U.S. after Saudi officials refused to renew his diplomatic passport after they discovered he was gay and was close friends with a Jewish woman from Israel.

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Democratic and Republican leaders paint the growing debate over the Bush tax cuts as a choice between extending the cuts on the middle class alone, or extending them to everybody -- including the wealthiest Americans -- permanently. But some members, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), now say they'd support a compromise measure that only temporarily extends tax cuts for the rich.

"I think three years would do us well," Graham said on Fox News earlier today.

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Tea Party Express national coordinator Joe Wierzbicki has expanded on his group's call for the "termination" of Delaware Republican party Chairman Tom Ross, in light of the fact that Ross temporarily left his home in response to a death threat.

The call for Ross' "immediate resignation or termination" was made over the state party chair's support of GOP establishment pick Rep. Mike Castle over tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell in the Senate Republican primary.

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