TPM News

Summers: "It's A Long Road" For The Economy Appearing on NBC's Meet The Press, Larry Summers said of the economic situation: "But it's a, it's a long, it's a long road and it's going to take time. It's going to take creating jobs again. That's why the recovery bill was so important. It's going to take supporting the financial system, because without a flow of credit you really can't even begin to get the economy going again. That's where our main focus is."

Obama's Day President Obama spent the morning in Trinidad and Tobago, at the fifth Summit of the Americas. He attended an 8 a.m. ET multilateral meeting with SICA (Central American Integration System), a 9:10 a.m. ET Leaders Retreat, and held a news conference at 11:45 a.m. ET. He left Trinidad at 1 p.m. ET, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 6:15 p.m. ET.

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Obama: We Must Cut Government Waste In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama discussed the need to cut the costs of government and to eliminate wasteful programs, and announced the appointments of Jeffrey Zients as Chief Performance Officer, and Aneesh Chopra as Chief Technology Officer:

Obama says that the circumstances of the economy forced him to expand the federal deficit. But nevertheless, he added: "Without significant change to steer away from ever-expanding deficits and debt, we are on an unsustainable course."

GOP Response Video: Congressman Praises Tea Parties In this weekend's RNC response YouTube, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) lambasted big spending by the Democrats -- and praised the Tea Parties from this past week:

"In fact, thousands of Americans turned out on Tax Filing Day to say they've had enough of the high taxes and borrowing to bankroll Washington's spending spree," said McCarthy. "I attended one of these Tea Parties in my hometown of Bakersfield, California, and believe me, the message was heard loud and clear."

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Before he was linked to the expansive New York pay to pay probe for paying shady "finder's fees" to steer $100 million in pension money to his private equity firm, Obama "car czar" Steve Rattner was controversial for a more straightforward reason: there was something of a deficit of evidence he knew anything about cars.

Having spent most of his lucrative financial career investing in and advising media companies, Rattner's automotive experience appeared limited to two things: first, his private equity firm Quadrangle made a bad loan to the private equity firm that owns Chrysler to make an investment in Maxim magazine that managed to reap worse returns than the ailing automaker. And secondly, there was the fact that Rattner had, as NPR and other news agencies reported, covered the Chrysler bailout as a reporter for the New York Times in 1979. NPR even quoted from a story he had written on the bailout, and the Wall Street Journal subtly emphasized that bailout's significance in Rattner's career in a profile that ran earlier this month:

Roger Altman, a Wall Street financier who was the Treasury Department's point man during the first Chrysler bailout in 1979, says Mr. Rattner is well-suited for his new job.

"Steve has a brilliant grasp of finance, and that is the single-most important ingredient here," said Mr. Altman, a longtime mentor who lured Mr. Rattner to Lehman Brothers in 1982.
We'd better hope Altman is right about that.

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Yesterday, in a truly bizarre appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews, former Texas Rep. (and House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay said something which rang false.

Texas was a republic. It joined the Union by treaty. There's a process in the treaty by which Texas could divide into five states. If we invoke that, and the last time it was voted on was 1985, the United States Senate would kick us out and nullify the treaty because they're not going to allow 10 new Texas senators into the Senate. That's how you secede.

Much of this seemed, to us, to be incorrect. So we did some research, checked in with some experts, and concluded that, indeed, there are a number of basic errors here.

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For all the (justified) clamor over the Bush administration's torture memos that were released yesterday, there's been surprisingly little attention paid to the two authors of those documents.

As officials in the department's Office of Legal Counsel Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury authored the four memos. The first was written in 2002 by Bybee, and the latter three in 2005 by Bradbury. So: who are Bybee and Bradbury?

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The counties are now all done with the initial counting of absentee ballots in the NY-20 special election, and the latest results show Democratic candidate Scott Murphy ahead of Republican Jim Tedisco by 273 votes, as the counting finished up in the pro-Murphy areas of Dutchess and Washington Counties.

There now remain about 1,500 challenged absentee ballot envelopes, most of which have been kept completely out of the count based on objections lodged by the campaigns. It appears that far more challenges were lodged by the Tedisco campaign than by Murphy, which would lead to Murphy picking up more net votes due to the expectation that the vast majority of challenges will be thrown out and the ballots counted. The court review of the challenged ballots will begin on Monday.

At this point, it's difficult to envision a scenario under which Tedisco wins.

Late Update: The Tedisco campaign gives us this statement from their attorney James E. Walsh:

"After two weeks of counting the votes, the one thing that remains certain is that this continues to be a remarkably close race and every vote matters. On Monday, we intend to make our case before the judge that this important election should be decided by the lawful voters of the 20th Congressional district and not by residents of New York City."

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH).

• CBS, Face The Nation: White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod; plus a debate on guns with Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) and NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Sec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; Gov. David Paterson (D-NY).

• Fox News Sunday: Former CIA Director Michael Hayden; Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

• NBC, Meet The Press: National Economic Council Director Larry Summers.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) just held a conference call with reporters to discuss the nomination (and threatened filibuster) of Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's designated chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council.

Whitehouse is a member of the Judiciary Committee and has repeatedly spoken out on Johnsen's behalf. Though it's uncertain whether Republicans will ultimately seek to block Johnsen's nomination, Whitehouse is prepared in the event that they do. "I actually have a little bit of ammunition gathered in the event that I happen to be...on the floor defending this," Whitehouse said.

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The major question mark that still remains in the NY-20 special election, where Democratic candidate Scott Murphy currently leads Republican Jim Tedisco by 264 votes, is how those absentee ballots that are being kept out the count because of challenges by one campaign or another will ultimately add up.

A Democratic source tells me that the total number of challenged absentee ballots comes in at 1,579 -- of which 1,025 were lodged by Tedisco. This number has some plausibility to it, as there are already about 200 more Tedisco challenges each in Columbia and Warren counties, based on my own discussions with local elections officials. The big question is the breakdown in Saratoga County, which hasn't divulged the makeup of its 740 challenges.

Assuming this data is correct, and also that most campaign-launched challenges are overruled and the envelopes opened and counted, this would mean that Murphy could gain about 500 more net votes after these are all sorted out. The review process will begin in court on Monday.

The blogosphere has been abuzz about a reported filing by Republican Congressional candidate Jim Tedisco, asking to be declared the winner in the NY-20 special election. Does the filing really say that he should be declared the winner, notwithstanding the fact that he's down in the count?

Not exactly. I've now had the chance to look through the filing, and what it really does is formally state Tedisco's goal of being declared the winner -- after all, you can't go to court without some kind of specified goal -- and then it goes into the various complaints that Tedisco has, mainly relating to challenges against Murphy voters as being allegedly ineligible to vote in the election.

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