TPM News

North Carolina State Senator R.C. Soles, the longest serving legislator in the state, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Soles, a Democrat and an attorney, allegedly shot one of his former clients on Aug. 23, 2008 and inflicted serious bodily injury, according to the indictment.

A local television station, WECT, reports that the victim and another man had kicked on the front door of Soles' home. Soles claims the shooting was done in self defense.

During a nearly two hour caucus conference call this afternoon, rank and file Democrats sought answers from their leadership about the state of ongoing House, White House health care negotiations. But they may not get concrete responses until the caucus meets again next week, or, failing that, until President Obama huddles with members at the Democrats' issue conference next week at Fort McNair.

"The questions were about national exchanges, about the public option, about the Cadillac plans, about consumer protection, about insurance reform," said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and one of the chief authors of the House health care bill. "We told them what things the staff had started to discuss or haven't discussed yet."

According to a House leadership aide, members chief concerns on the call regarded a familiar array of issues. "Many members raised concerns about excise tax (in opposition to it)," the aide said. State exchanges came up -- many Members want a national exchange. Several spoke up also in favor of anti-trust exemption (repealing it) and keeping in place strong insurance reforms."

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Republican aides in the House and Senate have had enough of RNC chair Michael Steele's big mouth, according to a new report from inside a closed GOP conference call. Aides on the Hill are upset with Steele's repeated controversial interviews in the press and his recent comments that Republicans may not be "ready to lead."

Reid Wilson gets the scoop on a tense daily press call with RNC staff, reporting that one angry aide called Steele a "fool" and another told RNC press staff, "you really need to have him be quiet." The aides told RNC staff Steele was "ruining what should be several days of glowing press for the GOP" after a string of high-profile Democratic retirements.

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As we've reported, a big question for 2010 is, does the tea party movement really intend to derail the Republican Party in what could be a big year for the GOP?

The answer from Texas appears to be, Yes. Candidate filing in Texas closed on Monday, giving us one of the earliest looks at what the 2010 field might look like across the country. And in the Republican stronghold of Texas there will be a big field full of "anti-establishment" conservatives. Around 20 candidates identifying with the Tea Party movement are running for Congress in Texas, most of them against Republicans.

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John Michael Farren, who served as deputy counsel to President George W. Bush, has been charged with strangulation and attempted murder after allegedly choking his wife and beating her with a flashlight.

Police said Farren attacked his wife at their New Canaan home Wednesday night. According to police, she passed out during the attack but regained consciousness and fled with their children to the house of a neighbor, who called 911. There, police found her bleeding from her head, face and body.

She is reportedly at Norwalk Hospital in stable condition with a broken jaw, a broken nose and other injuries.

John Farren's lawyer said it's "a tragic situation."

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House Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has a number of issues with President Obama. But chief among them seems to be that, though they've stayed silent on a whole host of health care issues, they've thrown their weight behind a controversial tax in the Senate bill--one that Grijalva says violates Obama's solemn campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.

I asked Grijalva whether the White House's support for the Senate health care bill's excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" insurance policies is compatible with his promise on the campaign.

"No, it's not," Grijalva said.

Grijalva noted that, though the tax applies to very expensive insurance policies, many of the people who benefit from those policies are squarely in the middle class, adding that insurance companies will shift the burden to people who have less generous plans.

It sets up a situation, Grijalva said, where the middle class is subsidizing poor people. "You're building a class conflict that doesn't need to happen," he said.

Given Obama's campaign stance, it also creates political problems, including for rank-and-file Democrats.

"We've got to go back every two years," Grijalva told me. "We've got to explain this bill now and at election time."

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), a leading House progressive says if the White House can throw its weight behind a controversial tax in the Senate health care bill, it can stand up for some of the House's priorities, too.

In an interview with TPMDC moments after a conference call with over 175 members of the House Democratic caucus, Grijalva said he was encouraged by what he heard from members--strong support for the House bill--but the President needs to get involved if their concerns will be met.

"The president is having his listening sessions, right?" Grijalva asked rhetorically. "After all we've been through at some point the administration can not be neutral players in this process."

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The New York Fed pressured AIG in late 2008 to withhold from the public details about its massive and controversial payments to counter-parties, according to emails obtained by Bloomberg News. At the time, Timothy Geithner, now the Treasury Secretary, was New York Fed chair.

The federal government was heavily criticized last year for what some lawmakers have called a "backdoor bailout" of several large banks. It spent $182 billion all told to bail out AIG, but directed that the troubled insurance giant use those funds to pay back its counter-parties -- including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, DeutscheBank, and other major banks -- with whom it had engaged in credit default swaps.

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