TPM News

The Chamber of Commerce, whose intransigent stance on global warming has lately been in the spotlight, is now being slammed in comments on its own Facebook page.

Many of the comments, which appear on the "Just Fans" setting, accuse the Chamber of vastly inflating its membership numbers. Mother Jones reported earlier this month that the Chamber's claim to represent 3 million members is off by a factor of 10.

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Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) has found a new lever in his primary campaign against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). Sestak is hitting Specter for his early (and possibly continuing) opposition to the confirmation of Dawn Johnsen, whom President Obama nominated to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel back in February.

"As the administration deals with crucial legal issues from interrogating and prosecuting terrorists to closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Arlen Specter and Senate Republicans have decided to tie the President's hands by denying him a critical advisor," Sestak says in a new statement.

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Chris Christie appeared yesterday on the Don Imus show, and cracked some jokes about his weight. I didn't realize just how funny it was until I saw this YouTube, via Jim Geraghty.

In addition to predicting that he'll be a "big fat winner," and sarcastically giving his weight as 550 pounds, Christie also put forward his accomplishments on economic stimulus: "We gotta spur our economy, Don. Dunkin' Donuts, International House of Pancakes -- those people need to work, too."

Michael Steele told Republican party leaders across the country today that one year after voters handed both houses of Congress and the White House to the Democrats, the GOP is poised to regain prominence on the political landscape.

In his "2009 Political Update," an email sent to the party's list of activists, Steele says the summer's town hall meetings and next week's elections in New Jersey in Virginia prove his first year at the helm of the GOP has been a success. He writes,

"Just one year ago, many political pundits had written the epitaph of the Republican Party. ... Today, Republicans have begun to reestablish the trust of voters on a majority of issues; and, I am proud to say are turning an important corner and are moving forward with strength."

Inside the document, Steele suggests are signs that the GOP still has a few corners to turn before it's back to the ideological unanimity found during its years in absolute power over D.C..

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Vice President Joe Biden this afternoon outlined a report collecting the jobs saved or created across the country, the product of states sending in their data.

As TPMDC reported this morning, he was joined by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), who was a key ally when President Obama was selling the stimulus to the American people this winter.

Biden said the report shows the $787 billion economic stimulus plan has created or saved 642,239 jobs through the federal government and an estimated "at least" another 400,000 jobs. He said it is only a third of the way through.

"So far we have created over a million jobs," Biden said. "We know that more jobs are on the way as we continue to spend out these dollars."

Biden said the detailed site is "quite simply something that has never happened before in the federal government."

He bemoaned worries that millions would go to polar bears and frisbee parks, adding, "So far, thank god, that's a dog that has not bitten yet."

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Two new polls show that the New Jersey gubernatorial race continues to be neck and neck between Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.

• In the new Rasmussen poll, respondents' initial preferences were Christie 42%, Corzine 39%, and independent Chris Daggett 12%. After Daggett supporters were asked if they were sure they would vote for him -- along with the process of pushing undecideds who might lean towards a candidate -- the result becomes a Christie lead of 46%-43%-8%, with a ±3% margin of error.

• The new Stockton College/Zogby poll: Corzine 40%, Christie 39%, and Daggett 14%, with a ±3% margin of error.

• The new Neighborhood Research (R) poll: Christie 42%, Corzine 35%, Daggett 8%, with a ±5.3% margin of error.

So which poll, out of these three or any others, should you believe? Keep in mind that a poll with Corzine up by two points is not significantly different from a poll with Christie up by two points, statistically speaking. The vast majority of polls have shown this race to be within just a couple points -- and they're probably right.

Health care reformers have a number of arguments for the public option, but the main one is this: that by injecting fairness and competition into the market the public option will lower premiums for everybody, including those paying for private plans. Unfortunately, a new CBO study finds that it may not have that effect at all.

The theory behind the public option is that, by injecting a major non-profit insurer into the marketplace, it will force private competitors to cut down on administrative waste and other excesses, and, therefore, drive premiums down for everybody. Last week, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on the verge of losing the fight for a muscular public option, she said "There's no philosophical difference between a robust public option and negotiated rates. It's just a difference in money."

But is that true? Yesterday, in an analysis of House health care legislation, the CBO concluded that the six million people expected to enroll in the public option by 2019 will be paying, on average, higher premiums than will people buying private plans.

"[A] plan paying negotiated rates would attract a broad network of providers but would typically have premiums that are somewhat higher than the average premiums for the private plans in the exchanges," wrote CBO chief Doug Elmendorf.

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Whatever happens Tuesday in New Jersey and Virginia, that doesn't necessarily reflect on President Obama, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today.

Gibbs reminded reporters that Democrats won in both states in 2001 when Republican President George W. Bush had just taken office. At that time, Bush was at the height of popularity following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But on Nov. 6, 2001 Democrat Mark Warner (now a U.S. senator) was elected in Virginia and Democrat Jim McGreevey won in New Jersey.

"I don't think anybody thought President Bush was significantly hampered by that ... Whatever the results are I don't think they portend a lot in dealing with the future," Gibbs said during the briefing.

"We continue to take the long view on what's going on in Washington and in the country," Gibbs said.

"We'll have time to dissect" the results after Tuesday, he said.

TPMDC hears that Obama is planning to be out of town on Wednesday at an event in the middle of the country.

The cable news networks have jumped all over the ethics document leaked to the Washington Post showing that over 30 members of Congress have been subjects of "inquiries" by the House ethics committee.

And the Post is having fun dissecting the weekly ethics summary report from July, publishing a new round of stories this morning looking at specific cases highlighted in the document.

But nearly all of the new stories show that the members in question were cleared of wrongdoing, and it's worth asking how much new information has really come to light.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

• CNN, State Of The Union: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Gov Haley Barbour (R-MS).

• Fox News Sunday: Rush Limbaugh.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, Obama 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe.