TPM News

Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) officially announced today that he is retiring from Congress, after 16 years in the House.

"Each of us should recognize that the world doesn't depend just on us and I've been there 16 years now and that's more than enough time for most people and I've accomplished a great deal," Ehlers told the Associated Press. "I just felt this was a good time to go."

Ehlers' district could be a competitive race for this fall, though it does have a Republican lean. John McCain only carried it narrowly with 49% of the vote in 2008, but before that it generally voted for Republicans by stronger margins. The district is a long-time Republican bastion, and decades ago was represented by Gerald Ford. (The district briefly went to the Democrats after Ford became Vice President, due to the continuing scandals over Watergate, but went back to the GOP in 1976.)

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After slamming the Obama administration for "secret deliberations" and going back on his campaign promise to televise the health care debate, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) criticized the President yesterday for televising the bipartisan health care summit on Feb. 25, asking "is this a political event or is this going to be a real conversation?"

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Next week when President Obama marks the one-year anniversary of signing the stimulus bill into law, Democrats will showcase the Republicans who were against the Recovery Act funds, before they were for them being funneled to their home states.

TPMDC has learned the party will mount an orchestrated effort from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to go after Republicans who voted against the$787 billion economic stimulus plan but take credit for its spending back home.

Obama signed the measure Feb. 17, 2009 with votes from just three Republicans (one of those GOPers, Sen. Arlen Specter, became a Democrat) but members of the opposing party have campaigned on stimulus projects.

A Democratic source told me the party will force both incumbents up for reelection in the fall and Republican challengers to say on the record if they support the stimulus plan, which the White House in tandem will showcase as having created jobs.

"Look for us to be all over this story," the source said.

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As Washington debates the future of Don't Ask Don't Tell, a new poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans have already made up their minds about the policy -- and they want it gone.

Quinnipiac University polled more than 2,500 Americans about the military's rules regarding gays serving openly and found that 66% called DADT "discrimination." Fifty-seven percent say that homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly.

Inside the numbers though, is evidence that the issue of gays in the military is still very divisive for some groups, giving cover to the politicians who are fighting changes to DADT in Washington.

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Repower America, a project of Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection is upping the pressure on swing-vote Democrats to support legislative action on climate change.

In a spot that's set to run for at least three weeks on cable and local network affiliates in Indiana, "real Hoosiers" tell viewers to contact their senators...including Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)--a long-time hold out on climate legislation.

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Jon Stewart reported yesterday on the crisis that has been gripping the nation: 'Crazed madman' Richard Shelby, reputed to be a representative from 'Al-Abama,' has put a blanket hold on all of Obama's nominees until the government provides funding for programs in his home state. 'Unlike many of today's hostage-taking religious extremists," said Stewart, "Shelby has no problem with pork."

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The new survey of Texas by Public Policy Polling (D) finds Republican Gov. Rick Perry with a narrow lead over the likely Democratic nominee, Houston Mayor Bill White, in a general election match-up -- at the same time as Texans disapprove of Perry's performance.

The numbers: Perry 48%, White 42%. Perry is facing a primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and conservative activist Debra Medina, in which Perry is currently in the lead. In the other general election scenarios, Hutchison leads White by 45%-38%, and Medina leads White by 44%-38%.

The interesting part, however, is that Perry's approval rating is at only 33%, to 50% disapproval, and yet he still leads White in the general election. The reason for this is that Perry's approval among Republicans is only 51%-28%, but they pick him over White by 83%-10%. The Republican primary is serving to drive down both Perry's and Hutchison's favorables among their party base, as they compete for votes, but the base is sticking with the eventual party nominee (whoever it might be) for now.

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John Yoo has no regrets.

At a University of Chicago Law School event, the author of the torture memos was asked whether he would do anything differently if he had the assignment to do over again. According to a correspondent for the Above The Law blog:

Yoo said that he would draw the line in "exactly the same place," but that he would have been sure to "say nice things about everyone, I guess" if he had known that the torture memos would have been made public.

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President Obama told BusinessWeek yesterday that he doesn't "begrudge" the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs their multi-million-dollar bonuses.

"I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen," Obama said. "I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system."

Jamie Dillon, the CEO of JPMorgan, received a $17 million bonus; Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein got $9 million. As BusinessWeek points out, both companies have repaid their government bailout money.

Obama did say he wanted to see more shareholder say over executive compensation.

"That serves as a restraint and helps align performance with pay," he said. "Shareholders oftentimes have not had any significant say in the pay structures for CEOs."

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