TPM News

President Barack Obama had some tough words for banks this morning as he unveiled a fee on the country's major financial institutions -- a fee that the president said will recover the estimated $117 billion that the TARP program is expected to cost American taxpayers.

"My commitment is to the taxpayer," the president said. "My commitment is to recover every single dime the American people are owed."

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A Florida lawyer who registered the "Tea Party" as an official political party doesn't want to share the name that's become synonymous with the fledgling grassroots conservative movement. Fred O'Neal is pressuring activists in the state to rechristen their local Tea Party groups -- and in doing so, he's become the latest figure to be charged with co-opting the movement for personal gain.

In August, O'Neal, an Orlando attorney and anti-tax activist who until then had had little involvement with the Tea Party movement, registered the "Tea Party" as a new political party with the Florida Division of Elections. O'Neal has told the press he intends to recruit conservative candidates under the Tea Party banner -- an idea that hasn't sat well with many Tea Party activists, who view any organized political party with distrust.

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Five weeks ago pollsters, pundits and politicians alike thought the special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts would likely be a snoozer. But as the battle over health care heated up in Washington and in the final days before Tuesday's election, the race has become a proxy for the national health care debate and one that Democrats could lose.

The bill Democrats have been working on for six months hangs in the balance and Republicans are flooding the zone in hopes of a symbolic victory to kick off the 2010 election year.

Sources tell TPMDC the battleplan laid out for both sides in December had to be scrapped as the race between Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) and state Sen. Scott Brown (R) grew tighter. Since the final health care deal is so close and Brown is vowing to be the 41st vote to block it, all of the tension and national energy in that fight have channeled to the Bay State.

So have Senate staffers, top political consultants from both parties and outside organizations that are pumping money to air television advertising at unprecedented levels.

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), joined by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), has introduced a bill that would require military health care facilities to carry emergency contraception.

Military facilities are allowed to carry the morning-after pill, but are not required to do so.

The bill would require the medication to be stocked. Servicewomen would also not need to get prior approval to purchase it. However, the bill would not require emergency contraception to be covered by the military's pharmacy benefits plan.

"All servicewomen should have the same access to this medication as civilians do," Franken said in a statement. "The fact that more than 2,900 sexual assaults were reported last year in the military--a nine percent increase--only heightens the need to ensure emergency contraception is always available."

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The League of Conservation Voters has a new ad in the Massachusetts special Senate election, putting $350,000 into the effort to help Democratic nominee Martha Coakley beat Republican Scott Brown in this usually-Democratic state.

"Our economy needs help, but Scott Brown would go back to the same Bush-Cheney policies that caused the crisis," the announcer says. "Brown opposes the American Clean Energy and Security Act that creates new energy jobs. Brown opposes the plan that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and makes America safer."

"On Tuesday, we can say 'yes' to clean energy jobs and greater energy independence, by electing Martha Coakley as our new Senator."

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The new survey of Nevada by Public Policy Polling (D) not only finds that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in trouble for his re-election. It suggests that Democrats would still have a hard time with a different nominee in most situations, with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman coming out the best.

Reid trails former state GOP chair Sue Lowden by 51%-41%, and he's behind former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian by 50%-42%. Other Democratic names in the state were tested, and most of them didn't do well, either. Rep. Shelly Berkley trails Lowden by 46%-38% and Tarkanian by 47%-39%. Secretary of State Ross Miller trails Lowden by 44%-34% and Tarkanian by 45%-34%.

Goodman edges Lowden by 42%-40%, within the ±3.6% margin of error, and ties Tarkanian at 41%-41%. Goodman has been widely discussed in the local media as a potential independent candidate for governor, not as a Senate candidate. (He could also have plenty of material that an opponent could try to use against him statewide, such as his famous answer when a group of schoolchildren asked him what his hobbies were. His answer: "Drinking.")

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement today in regard to President Obama's proposal to impose a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee on major financial firms that received assistance from the federal government. Read the full text of the statement after the jump.

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Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) seemed to suggest that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder urged self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to change his plea to not guilty so he could be tried in New York.

This is an extremely important point. Again, the mastermind of 9-1-1, who achieved his goal of killing 3,000 innocent Americans in the World Trade Center bombing, he got his way. Why would we give him his way by bringing him to New York City, at over $200 million a year taxpayer expense, to give him a show trial when he has already plead guilty and already asked to be executed? What happened? Did the president, did the attorney general say to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, "Now wait a minute, you don't want to plead guilty. Wait a minute you don't want to be executed. You want to come to New York City. You want to have the trial just like you asked for in the first place. Why would we do that? Because the only message we'll be sending to future terrorists will be, "You too can have a show trial in the city of your choice if you come to America."

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President Obama this morning again addressed the relief efforts in Haiti, announcing an immediate investment of $100 million for "one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history."

"This morning I can report that the first waves of our rescue and relief workers are on the ground and at work," he said. He said search and rescue teams are working to dig out survivors; the military has secured the Port-au-Prince airport to receive workers and supplies "around the clock;" and water and medicine has been air-lifted to the hardest-hit areas.

He also said injured Americans have been air-lifted out of the country, and more evacuations for citizens will be scheduled soon.

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