TPM News

The incoming House Republican majority has taken a first step in streamlining the way Congress operates -- by dissolving the committee that Democrats created specifically to hold hearings on global warming.

The AFP reports:

Democrats immediately assailed what they branded the "very disappointing" decision to dismantle the Select Committee on Global Warming, which did not have the power to approve legislation.

"We have pledged to save taxpayers' money by reducing waste and duplication in Congress," said a spokesman for Republican House speaker-designate John Boehner, Michael Steel.

Look on the bright side: House Republicans have clearly acknowledged that the Committee on Global Warming exists, was created by humans, and could be reversed.

Politicians have not shied away from expressing their outrage over WikiLeaks' release of secret State Department cables -- from the call to treat Julian Assange as an enemy combatant to the suggested execution of the leak's source. According to a newly released Rasmussen poll, the majority of Americans also have negative feelings on the massive leak -- 51% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked if the leak was an act of treason.

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), a potential presidential candidate, is voicing some skeptical notes about Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who is facing a large field of potential challenges as he seeks re-election this January.

As CNN reports, Gingrich says that if Steele wants to win another term, he will have to shake up his top staffing at the RNC, and deal with skepticism over the committee's financial situation:

"Chairman Steele has to convince people that he will have dramatically stronger executive director and internal leader, or I think there will be a new leader," Gingrich said.
"It's clear that the committee has to pay off a very large debt and the committee has to focus on being dramatically more effective for 2012, and I think that members of the RNC got to make a decision about what the right way is to get to that," he added.

John Boehner in September: "If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I'll vote for them."

John Boehner today: "I'm trying to catch my breath so I don't refer to this maneuver going on today as chickencrap, alright? But this is nonsense."

Who is J.C. Owsley? Yesterday, we pointed out a terrific infographic in The New York Times, which listed the top salary earners in the country in 1941, and their tax rates. Among the names were well-known titans of industry: Thomas J. Watson, President of IBM; Eugene G. Grace, President of Bethlehem Steel; and Louis B. Mayer, General Manager of MGM. Number one on the list was a gun manufacturer, Carl Swebilius, and his wife Hulda Swebilius. But two of the names on the list, J.C. Owsley and C.S. Woolman, were labeled "unable to identify" by the Times. In a footnote, the paper attributed the lack of information to possible typographical errors in the documents it had received from the National Archives. According to the list, Owsley earned $486,244 and Woolman earned $442,142 in 1941. Could some of the nation's richest individuals really be so obscure? After some research (and the help of some reader tips), we think we've identified both men -- but Owsley's is the trickier case.

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Just as Congress prepares to vote on the Bush-era tax cuts, has a new ad out today, calling for President Barack Obama to return to his bold days as a candidate.

The ad features a montage of people asking Obama to "be the president we fought to elect," and let the tax cuts expire.

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George Djura Jakubec, a California man accused of running a "bomb factory" in his Escondido home, admitted to San Diego County sheriff's deputies that he robbed three banks, according to an affidavit obtained by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

Jakubec reportedly admitted to the three robberies, at Bank of America branches on November 13, 2009, June 25, 2010, and July 17, 2010, during a jailhouse interview with San Diego officials.

Jakubec pleaded not guilty last Monday to 26 charges related to nine pounds of explosive materials allegedly found in his home. Officials announced Tuesday that they will burn down his home, possibly next week, since removing the materials manually proved too dangerous.

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This afternoon, House Democrats will hold an up or down vote on vote on President Obama's plan to extend tax cuts to income below $250,000, and they've figured out a way to prevent the Republicans from pulling procedural tricks that might sink it -- a straight vote on whether or not wealthy people deserve an additional tax break. Today, at his weekly press conference, House Minority Leader John Boehner compared the move to fertilizer.

"I'm trying to catch my breath so I don't refer to this maneuver going on today as chickencrap, alright?' Boehner said. "But this is nonsense."

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With Republicans set to take control of the House next year, some Democrats on the Hill and in the administration had been hoping that the parties could agree on the sort of stimulus that Republicans typically like: tax breaks. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) says: Don't count on it.

"I don't think so...that's like cash for clunkers, rebates, payroll holidays -- those don't work," Ryan told me after a Christian Science Monitor breakfast roundtable with reporters this morning. "They don't work to grow the economy. they lose a lot of money, they give you an artificial sugar high in the quarter in which they take place, and then they go right back down."

There's a strong consensus among economists that the key to growth is to inject demand into the economy, either by spending or giving people money to spend through tax credits, rebates, etc. Some Republicans do support measures like this. But according to Ryan, they're the minority within the party.

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The campaign of Minnesota Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer is continuing to challenge a whole lot of ballots in the state recount -- and a whole lot of those challenges are being declared frivolous by local officials, making for some very interesting squabbles.

As the Star Tribune reports, in Hennepin County (Minneapolis) alone, Team Emmer has made about 1,600 challenges that have been declared frivolous by local officials. Election manager Rachel Smith made an attempt to speed things up -- which she quickly abandoned, after Emmer attorney Tony Trimble attempted to sue:

To speed things up on Wednesday, Smith asked to add three or four counting tables to the 25 already set up.

Trimble objected, saying if she did so, the campaign would take the county to court. "They can't change the rules," he said.

The state Republican Party also blasted Smith. In a statement, the party said Smith "tried to change the rules in the middle of game to advance the interests of Mark Dayton."

Smith then ditched the idea, saying that it was "not worth the fight."

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