TPM News

A new Gallup poll finds a surprising attitude among the American people regarding taxes, as we head towards April 15: Amazingly high satisfaction.

The question asked is: "Do you consider the amount of federal income tax you have to pay as too high, about right, or too low?" The numbers: About right 48%, too high 46%, and too low 3%.

This is the second-highest "about right" number since Gallup began asking this question over 50 years ago, beat out only by 50% in 2003, after successive rounds of Bush tax cuts. And since the early 1960s, this question has almost always shown a significant gap between "too high" on top and "about right" on the bottom.

Vito Fossella, the former GOP congressman from Staten Island, NY, has pleaded guilty to DUI charges, the Associated Press reports -- and according to his lawyer, the decision was prompted in part by the death of a Major League Baseball player last week.

Fossella was arrested May 1, 2008, and charged with driving while drunk. The arrest led to revelations that he had fathered a child as part of an extra-marital affair. He served out his term, but did not run for reelection this fall. He was convicted in October, but was appealing his conviction.

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Last week, we reported that Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) had experienced an epiphany about the stimulative effects of government spending...when that spending is on weapons.

Over the weekend, Paul Krugman took a shot at Congressional Republicans who fit the Chambliss profile--i.e. the subset of Republicans who voted against the stimulus but are now coming forward to claim that a (fictional) reduction in defense spending will cost jobs.

Since only three of Capitol Hill's 219 Republicans--Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME)--voted for the stimulus bill, it's possible that many scores of them will ultimately fall afoul of this contradiction.

Until then, though, we've poked around a bit, and come up with the names of a few Republicans that have already fallen in to The Chambliss Hypocrisy.

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The Obamas welcome Bo, a six month old Portuguese water dog, to the White House as the newest member of their family.

Photo courtesy of the White House

Bo was a gift from Sen. Ed Kennedy (D-MA) and his wife Victoria to Sasha and Malia. In a statement, Sen. Kennedy said "We couldn't be happier to see the joy that Bo is bringing to Malia and Sasha."

Photo courtesy of the White House

On Friday, we reported the comments of a lawyer for four Gitmo detainees, who told us that, in his view, the Obama administration is continuing the Bushies' policy, by stonewalling efforts by detainees to appeal their detentions in federal courts.

And that same day, another data point emerged suggesting the new administration is taking a hard line on detainee policy.

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A new CNN poll finds that Americans don't agree with former Vice President Dick Cheney when he says President Obama is making the country less safe:

Do you think the actions Barack Obama has taken as president have increased the chances of a terrorist attack against the U.S., or don't you think so?

Have increased 26%
Have not 72%

One thing worth noting is that the question didn't attribute this idea to Dick Cheney -- respondents were asked to judge it on its own merits. If they had included Cheney, pitting his reputation against Obama's, who knows whether agreement would have been higher or lower.

The NY-20 special election's litigation was put on hold today, when the scheduled court proceedings were delayed due to Judge James V. Brands being hospitalized and undergoing tests.

Senior court clerk Karen Bitonte told TPM that Judge Brands expects to be back in his chambers tomorrow, and court will resume on Wednesday. In Judge Brands' absence, the lawyers for both sides spoke to Brands' clerk. "The lawyers voiced their concerns to the judge's law clerk, and she was going to take them to the judge," Bitonte explained.

One outstanding issue here is whether the campaign of GOP candidate Jim Tedisco can successfully challenge certain absentee voters who maintain two addresses -- voting in the district, but having driver's licenses in New York City or elsewhere. If Tedisco were to be turned down in all or most examples, that would likely result in a pickup of as many as 100 votes for Democrat Scott Murphy.

The Club For Growth, the economic right-wing political group known for backing staunch anti-tax candidates in GOP primaries, has selected a new chairman, replacing Pat Toomey: Former Rep. Chris Chocola (R-IN).

Chocola was first elected to Congress in 2002, picking up an open seat for the Republicans, but later lost re-election in 2006 by a 54%-46% to Democrat Joe Donnelly. From his first unsuccessful campaign in 2000 and through his career in Congress, he at times strongly favored total privatization of Social Security, and at others didn't support privatization.

Another thing here is that the real news isn't so much Chocola signing on to the Club For Growth, as it is Toomey signing off. Toomey, a former Pennsylvania Congressman, is widely believed to be about to challenge Arlen Specter in the Republican primary for Senator from Pennsylvania, after he'd previously run in 2004 and lost in a 51%-49% squeaker. Toomey is officially leaving the Club to pursue "other opportunities."

The NRCC has announced a new wide-reaching ad campaign, composed of TV and radio spots plus robocalls, targeting key House Democrats over the federal budget. They aren't targeting President Obama -- he's too popular right now, obviously -- but are instead focusing their firepower on Nancy Pelosi.

Here's a TV ad against Rep. Zack Space (D-OH):

"Nancy Pelosi pushed a budget with a trillion-dollar deficit -- and Space voted to let Nancy Pelosi get her way," the announcer says. There's also a radio version of the ad, with this sample against freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA).

Space's district voted for John McCain 53%-45%, and Dahlkemper's went for McCain by less than one point. The NRCC will also have other TV and radio ads and robocalls against a diverse line-up of House Dems, some from Obama districts and others from McCain districts, though all of them are swing seats to various degrees. The full listing is after the jump.

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