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A new group of labor unions is joining together to pressure a Senator on what they view as an anti-working families health plan, with the unions preferring instead a greater public option and opposing taxation of health benefits. The Senator is none other than ... liberal Democrat Ron Wyden from Oregon.

The National Education Association, AFSCME and the United Food and Commercial Workers are joining together to run this radio ad in the Portland and Eugene markets:



"The last thing we need is to pay more. But Senator Ron Wyden would tax the health care benefits we get at work - as if they were income," the announcer says. "Taxing health benefits? That doesn't make sense."

Check out the full script after the jump.

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  • Defense lawyers for Guantanamo detainees are claiming that many of the Obama administration's proposed changes to the military commission system are cosmetic, and say they plan to keep challenging the system. (The New York Times)
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    RNC Chairman Michael Steele is set to deliver a speech today to state GOP chairmen, seeking to re-energize the party.

    "The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over. It is done," Steele will say. "We have turned the page, we have turned the corner. No more looking in the rearview mirror. From this point forward, we will focus all of our energies on winning the future."

    When has the GOP been apologizing, you might ask? In all fairness to Steele, he could be referring to his own speeches in which he himself has owned up to the Republican Party's mistakes. As he famously said in February: "Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad." So does this mean the Republican Party is going to stop apologizing -- or more specifically that Steele, in his position as chairman, is going to knock it off?

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    Last night, the House passed the final version of a bill intended to enhance enforcement of financial crimes, one of the provisions of which will create a 10-member commission to investigate the causes of the financial crisis. The vote was 338 to 52.

    "While the Commission undertakes its investigation," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi upon passage of the legislation, "Chairman Barney Frank and the House Financial Services Committee will continue their ongoing work to reform federal oversight of our financial markets, and to reform lending practices to protect consumers."

    The Senate passed the same version of the bill last week, and the President is expected to sign it short order. During deliberations between House and Senate leaders to resolve differences between the bills, negotiators made one potentially important change to the commission's guidelines, which now require that at least one member appointed by the Senate or House Minority Leader assent to the issuance of subpoenas, should they be necessary to compel testimony or other evidence. Whether that impacts the functioning of the commission will depend, I suppose, on how many subpoenas turn out to be necessary, and how much the Republican appointees resemble their appointers in Congress.

    Obama, Automakers To Roll Out New Mileage And Emissions Standards President Obama and the country's automakers are set to announce this morning a new set of national mileage and emissions standards, with cars and trucks required to get 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The automakers cooperated with the government in reaching these standards in order to pre-empt battles with individual states, and they have been given more time to reach the goals.

    Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will deliver remarks at 12:15 p.m. ET, on the new set of auto emissions and efficiency standards. At 1:45 p.m. ET, he will meet in the Oval Office with formers Secs. of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, former Sec. of Defense William Perry, and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA). At 3:30 p.m. ET, he will speak at a ceremony honoring the National Small Business Award Winners. At 4:30 p.m. ET, he will meet with Sec. of Defense Robert Gates in the Oval Office.

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    The Florida governor's race, where incumbent Republican Charlie Crist is leaving to run for Senate, took a major step forward today with state Attorney General Bill McCollum declaring his candidacy for the Republican nomination -- and the state party chairman quickly lining up to support him, too.

    McCollum was one of the House prosecutors of Bill Clinton's impeachment, then went on to narrowly lose the 2000 Florida Senate race to Democrat Bill Nelson. In 2004 he sought the GOP nomination for Senate again, but lost to Mel Martinez. Then in 2006 he was elected state Attorney General, the same office from which Crist went on to win the governorship.

    The Democrats appear to be quickly coalescing around the state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink as their candidate for governor, meaning that both sides could see clear primary fields in the gubernatorial race -- but some possible friction in the Senate primaries.

    Yet another poll has simply awful news for Gov. David Paterson (D-NY), showing him losing in landslides against two possible 2010 Republican opponents in even this heavily Democratic state. Meanwhile, his potential Dem primary opponent, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, leads those same GOPers by hefty margins.

    The new numbers from Rasmussen: Rudy Giuliani bests Paterson by a 58%-30% margin, while George Pataki is ahead of the incumbent 47%-33%. On the other hand, Cuomo leads Rudy by 55%-37%, and is ahead of Pataki -- the man who defeated Cuomo's father Mario in 1994 -- by 57%-29%.

    The pollster's analysis shows how bad things are for Paterson -- but also hints that anything can happen in seemingly short periods of time: "Paterson's political dilemma begins with the fact that just 31% of New York voters approve of the way he's handling the job of Governor right now. Sixty-seven percent 67% disapprove. In early January, 65% approved of Paterson's work."

    A new analysis by Gallup, compiled from their national polling done all this year, shows just how extensive the Republican Party's drop in voter self-identification has been, with decreases in nearly every demographic.

    Compared to 2001, when George W. Bush first took office as president, GOP self-identification has fallen by ten points among college graduates, nine points among those 18-29 years of age, nine points in the Midwest, six in the East, five in the West, and even four points in the South. Married people identifying as Republicans have decreased by five points, and the difference is eight points among the unmarried. The list goes on and on.

    In 2001, voters were 33% Democratic, 32% Republican, and 34% independent, with a Democratic edge of 45%-44% after leaners were pushed. But now, it's 36% Democrats, 27% Republicans and 37% independents, with a huge Democratic advantage of 53%-39% with leaners.

    The only bright spots for the GOP are three base groups: Frequent churchgoers, with no decrease at all; conservatives, with only a one-point decrease; and voters 65 years of age or older, with a one-point decrease. It should also be noted that they've only gone down one point among non-whites -- but this is because they didn't have much party identification there to begin with.

    Late Update: This post originally referenced the party-leaner numbers for college graduates, rather than for all Americans. The error has been corrected.

    May 4, 2009.

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    President Barack Obama "meets" with speechwriter Cody Keenan, who dressed as a pirate for an Oval Office photo taken for use in the President's humorous speech to the White House Correspondents Association dinner May 9, 2009.

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    President Barack Obama meets in the Oval Office with Rev. Al Sharpton and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to discuss education reform May 7, 2009.

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    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden wait for their lunch during an unannounced visit to Rays' Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., on May 5, 2009.

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    Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, left, and his family relax in the State Dining Room of the White House while waiting for the arrival of President Barack Obama before Locke's swearing-in ceremony May 1, 2009.

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    May 12, 2009.

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    May 12, 2009.

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    President Barack Obama stops to talk with families after playing basketball at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 9, 2009.

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    White House Cinco de Mayo celebration May 4, 2009.

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    First Lady Michelle Obama is hugged by students during a visit to the LAMB bilingual school May 4, 2009, as a lead-up to the Mexican Cinco de Mayo holiday.

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    May 9, 2009.

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    President Barack Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office May 8, 2009.

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    President Barack Obama prepares to enter the White House press briefing room for an unannounced appearance May 1, 2009.

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    President Barack Obama's sister, Auma Obama, gives him a hug during a visit to the Oval Office, May 8, 2009.

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    President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner leave the Red Room of the White House on their way to deliver a tax policy statement May 4, 2009.

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    Afghan President Hamid Karzai, left, and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari wait for the arrival of President Barack Obama before a US-Afghan-PakistanTrilateral meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House May 6, 2009.

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    May 5, 2009.

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    May 12, 2009.

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    More possible evidence that the Bush administration used torture to get information about Iraq?

    Back in 2004, the Associated Press reported on the plight of several Guantanamo detainees who had previously been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Among them was one Iraqi:

    The Iraqi, Arkan Mohammed Ghafil al Karim, says he deserted from Saddam Hussein's army and was later imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban for two years. He says he was brought to Guantanamo in 2002 so that the American military could learn about Iraq's army ahead of the invasion of that country.

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