TPM News

Former President Bill Clinton is giving his advice to Democrats for the midterm elections: Come out with a coherent national agenda to counter the Republicans.

During an interview on Morning Joe, Clinton discussed the House Republicans' "Pledge to America" that was released today, modeled after Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract With America" that helped steamroll the Democrats during Clinton's first midterm election in 1994.

Clinton said that Gingrich had provided the country with a "political science gift": "Newt Gingrich proved with that Contract for America that you could nationalize the midterm elections. So, I think that the president and the Democrats -- even at this late date should do this as an opportunity and an obligation to say, alright, they've organized their national plan. Here's what ours is. If you hire us for two more years, here's what we're going to do."

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The Senate's decision not to address the Bush tax cuts until after the election is the strongest indication yet that the game is over. After a House Democratic caucus meeting this morning -- but before the news broke on the Senate side -- key legislators were mum, and aides pessimistic, that the House will do what Speaker Pelosi wants to do: force a vote on tax legislation that will put Republicans on the record backing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Pelosi herself had earlier canceled a scheduled press conference, another sign that her attempt to rally the caucus was coming up short. With House Democratic leaders still insisting that they will follow the Senate's lead, it seems more and more likely that they too will drop the tax cut issue until after the election.

Pelosi's effort to wrangle her caucus into voting on middle-income tax cuts before the election appears not have dislodged conservative and politically vulnerable Democrats who either wanted to extend all the Bush tax cuts, including for high-income earners, or to avoid any kind of risky vote s close to the elections.

In what would be a surprising twist, one member of the Democratic leadership team suggested Dems might pivot away from the argument over upper-income tax cuts and press ahead with a separate raft of cuts before adjourning.

At a press availability after the meeting, TPM asked Majority Whip James Clyburn whether the House will "take up the issue of the Bush tax cuts" before adjourning next week. Clyburn puzzlingly responded by noting that the caucus stands behind a full extension of tax cuts in the stimulus bill. Those cuts are popular among Democrats and Republicans, but are ultimately a different issue than the Bush cuts.

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A new Rasmussen poll of the Missouri Senate race shows Republican Rep. Roy Blunt leading Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan 52%-44%.

When Rasmussen last took a look at this contest on September 7, Blunt was on top of Carnahan 53%-43%. The TPM Poll Average finds the Republican nominee ahead 51.2%-44.0%.

The margin of error for the latest survey is ±4.0 percentage points.

For more on the race, check out TPMDC's full coverage here.

Two new public polls of the New York special election for Senate suggest that the unstoppable political force that is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) may have finally hit a wall in Republican nominee Joe DioGuardi.

A third respected public poll shows that Gillibrand remains the T-1000 of New York politics. That's probably a huge relief for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was banking on holding this seat, and was last seen calling Gillibrand the "hottest member" of the world's greatest deliberative body.

The numbers: A Quinnipiac poll from Sept. 20 showed Gillibrand ahead by just six, leading DioGuardi 48-42. That was quickly followed up by today's shocking SurveyUSA poll, which showed Gillibrand leading by just one. The last Quinnipiac poll of the race, from late August, showed Gillibrand up 43-28. This is the first SurveyUSA poll of the contest.

If these nail-biting numbers reflect the true state of the race to fill the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton at the beginning of last year, Democrats should start panicking. No one expects Gillibrand to lose and if she did it would be a seriously epic blow to both egos and the "Democrats have secured their Senate majority" narrative that followed the Delaware Republican primary for Senate you may have heard a little about.

Before Democrats could really get their freak-out on, however, Siena College swooped in to rescue Gillibrand -- for now anyway. The new poll from the college shows Gillibrand leading 57-31. The previous Siena poll, from mid-August, showed Gillibrand up 54-29.

There's just one problem.

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A new SurveyUSA poll of the California Senate race shows Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer ahead of Republican former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina 49%-43%.

The latest survey's numbers are very different than the firm's findings in its September 1 poll -- Fiorina was up 48%-46%. The Democratic nominee has come out on top of all six polls conducted for the contest since September 6 -- the latest, prior to today's, was a September 20 Rasmussen poll that gave Boxer a 47%-43% advantage.

The TPM Poll Average shows Boxer leading the contest 47.1%-44.8%. The margin of error of the newest survey is ±4.0 percentage points.

For more on the race, check out TPMDC's full coverage here.

A senior Senate Democratic aide told TPM today there won't be a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts in the upper chamber before the November election, a blow to party leaders and President Obama who believed this would have been a winning issue.

It's also a signal that the House won't take action -- though nothing has been decided for certain, since leaders there have said all along they are waiting for the Senate.

"Absent a stunning turn of events, we're not going to do tax cuts before the election," the aide told TPM.

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After the Senate blocked a vote on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Jon Stewart wondered: "Are we run by assholes?"

The repeal, he pointed out, "is supported by 82% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans and 100% of Ladies Gaga." But it still managed to join other "popular bills Congress has somehow managed to snatch from the jaws of victory." So, Stewart said, "are we run by assholes? Indeed."

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Last night, Stephen Colbert decided to help out everyone who "wants to know what the next exciting Christine O'Donnell clip is going to be." So he introduced his "Christine O'Donnell Clip Predictor 3000," which predicts what she did, who she did it with, and on which TV show she will talk about it.

The results? She "killed a drifter with a zombie on Anthony Bourdain's 'No Reservations,'" and she "robbed a bank with a merman on 'Meerkat Manor.'"

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Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff infamous due to his attention-grabbing immigration enforcement related stunts and the accusations his office discriminates against Latinos, allegedly misused millions in funds intended for jail operations, Maricopa County officials said Wednesday.

Excerpts of the reports, obtained by TPMMuckraker, show officials from Arpaio's office made trips to Orlando, D.C., Honduras, Tempe, Belize, Alaska and Puerto Rico on the county's dime and racked up other questionable expenses, like $741 at Sardella's Pizza and Wings. The county was also charged $350 for a hotel room upgrade for one official's spouse. One employee went on multiple extradition trips without submitting receipts for the $62,750 he or she spent -- including $1,341 on Disney World Yacht Club Resort food and entertainment.

Others expenses charged to the county, according to the report, include $1,684 for a portable generator for parade lights on an army tank; $635 at Buca di Beppo when members of the Honduran National Police were in town; and $500 on a carriage ride.

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