TPM News

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has put out a statement on the news that Sen. Arlen Specter (formerly R- now D-PA) is switching parties.

I have known Senator Specter for more than a quarter-century. He has always been a man of honor and integrity, and a fine public servant. Senator Specter and I have had a long dialogue about his place in an evolving Republican Party. We have not always agreed on every issue, but Senator Specter has shown a willingness to work in a bipartisan manner, put people over party, and do what is right for Pennsylvanians and all Americans. I welcome Senator Specter and his moderate voice to our diverse caucus, and to continuing our open and honest debate about the best way to make life better for the American people.


You see an indication there--no big surprise--that this has been tossed around for some time now. But not everybody seemed to be as queued in as Harry Reid. More on that momentarily.

This is big, big, big, -- BIG.

Arlen Specter has announced that he is switching parties, and running for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. This now puts the Democrats at 59 Senate seats -- and would be the magic 60 seats, assuming Al Franken is eventually seated from Minnesota.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed that Specter was trailing his conservative challenger in the Republican primary, 2004 opponent Pat Toomey, by a margin of 51%-30%. Toomey was heavily capitalizing on Specter's support for the stimulus package.

From his statement:

When I supported the stimulus package, I knew that it would not be popular with the Republican Party. But, I saw the stimulus as necessary to lessen the risk of a far more serious recession than we are now experiencing.

Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.

I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary.

...

My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans. Unlike Senator Jeffords' switch which changed party control, I will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture. For example, my position on Employees Free Choice (Card Check) will not change.


Kudos to Michael Crowley, by the way, for apparently getting this first.

Full Specter statement after the jump.

Late Update: I run through some of the math here, showing why Specter simply had to do it in order to survive politically.

Read More →

Norm Coleman is taking an interesting rhetorical tack in the continued spin war among the Minnesota press. Coleman spoke to local newspaper company ECM's editorial board on Friday, and commented that the winner of this Senate race will always face serious questions.

"No matter who wins the race, there's always going to be a cloud hanging over them -- did they really get more votes than the other guy," said Coleman. "That's a reality. And there's nothing you can do to change that."

It really is worth asking why someone would be litigating endlessly to be declared the winner, while simultaneously saying aloud that whoever wins will face doubts over democratic legitimacy. One possibility is that Norm could be planning for the contingency of Franken winning -- and thus would want to create an environment that continually undermines his opponent.

Another question, which I've asked before: Where were you in 2000, Norm, when we really needed you?

Harold Koh will face the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon, and, barring any unusual shenanigans, his nomination to be State Department Legal Adviser will move closer to the floor. But today's hearing presents us with an opportunity to take the temperature of rank and file Republicans, who have decided to make an issue of Koh because, they say, Koh is a "radical transnationalist" who, through undue deference to international institutions and treaty obligations, will subvert and destroy the U.S. legal system.

Of course, this argument has little if any purchase among liberals, moderates, and academics. Two prominent conservatives--Ted Olson (who served as OLC-Chief under Ronald Reagan and Solicitor General under George Bush) and Ken Starr (the independent counsel who pursued Bill Clinton with unusual vehemence)--have even come forward to call it nonsense.

Read More →

A federal judge sentenced former Orange County sheriff Michael Carona to five and a half years in prison for attempting to obstruct a grand jury investigation. Carona was convicted in January for asking an assistant Sheriff to lie to a grand jury investigating Carona for using his office to attract cash and gifts for his wife and mistress. In a half-hour lecture during the sentencing, Judge Andrew Guilford told Corona that "lying will not be tolerated in this courtroom, especially by the county's highest-ranking law enforcement officer." Carona was once named "America's Sheriff" by CNN's Larry King for spearheading the investigation into the murder of a five year old girl. (LA Times)

Read More →

Congressional Dems Reach Budget Agreement House and Senate Democratic negotiators agreed Monday night to a budget outline for 2010, including the parliamentary ability to pass health care legislation without the threat of a Republican filibuster. The $3.5 trillion plan also includes funds for clean energy and other domestic programs, and a tax increase for individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000 per year.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with FBI Director Robert Mueller and other senior officials at FBI Headquarters, at 10:45 a.m. ET. He will then deliver remarks to FBI employees at 11:10 a.m. ET. At 2 p.m. ET, Obama will meet with the Congressional Progressive Caucus. At 3:05 p.m. ET, he will present the National Teacher of the Year Award in the Rose Garden. At 4:30 p.m. ET, he will meet with Defense Sec. Robert Gates, and at 7:30 p.m. ET he and the First Lady will attend a reception for Cabinet secretaries in the Blue Room.

Read More →

Congressional Dems Reach Budget Agreement House and Senate Democratic negotiators agreed Monday night to a budget outline for 2010, including the parliamentary ability to pass health care legislation without the threat of a Republican filibuster. The $3.5 plan also includes funds for clean energy and other domestic programs, and a tax increase for individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000 per year.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with FBI Director Robert Mueller and other senior officials at FBI Headquarters, at 10:45 a.m. ET. He will then deliver remarks to FBI employees at 11:10 a.m. ET. At 2 p.m. ET, Obama will meet with the Congressional Progressive Caucus. At 3:05 p.m. ET, he will present the National Teacher of the Year Award in the Rose Garden. At 4:30 p.m. ET, he will meet with Defense Sec. Robert Gates, and at 7:30 p.m. ET he and the First Lady will attend a reception for Cabinet secretaries in the Blue Room.

Read More →

We noted earlier that MoveOn.org is raising money to fund an ad campaign targeting conservative House Democrats who might stand athwart the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, still in its infancy.

Well they may want to ramp things up a bit. The bill was scheduled to be marked up this week, but Waxman just delayed further action until next week, citing "productive discussions between members". According to the Wall Street Journal, "[t]he delay indicates that the House Democratic leadership is having difficulty rounding up votes to move the bill forward, amid disagreements over which industries and regions of the country should bear the burden for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions."

Democrats from industrial and coal-dependent states have expressed concerns that the climate bill would sharply raise energy costs and hurt the economy in their states.


If you thought the stimulus was a slog, and think health reform will be harder still, just wait for the climate change wars.

As Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner's public image has generally seemed "not quite ready for prime time." But his PR acumen as president of the New York Fed was in large part credited for landing him the job -- and now we know why. Geithner made one-on-one coffee dates, luncheons, tennis games, dinners and conference calls with reporters a major part of his job at the New York Fed, from the looks of the official schedule posted this morning by the New York Times. In addition to regular press briefings, backgrounders and whatever Geithner slipped in on his own time, Geithner scheduled one-on-one time for more than 68 journalists from 2007 to 2008, including twelve from the New York Times, ten from the Wall Street Journal and eight from the Financial Times. His favorite journalist by far appears to be Krishna Guha, an editorial page writer at the Financial Times, to whom he granted 12 interviews.

The Journal's Jon Hilsenrath and David Wessel, the FT's Gillian Tett and Chrystia Freedland and House of Cards author William Cohan also make a lot of appearances on Geithner's schedule, in addition to professional pundits Fareed Zakariah and Tom Friedman. What's particularly striking about Geithner's media schedule is how willing he seemed to be to speak individually with multiple reporters from the same media outlet: some days he would speak separately with three different FT journalists. As the Times has pointed out, Geithner wasn't necessarily satisfied with his press; the schedule shows three meetings with a publicist who represents Citigroup, and a few others with New York PR patriarch Howard Rubenstein.

Read More →

LiveWire