WI-Sen: Thompson Lead Evaporates

Today's Rasmussen poll of the Wisconsin Senate race provides a bit of a surprise: former Republican governor Tommy Thompson no longer holds a statistically relevant lead against incumbent Russ Feingold:

...matched against Thompson, Feingold now trails by a statistically insignificant 47% to 45%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

Thompson, who is reportedly interested in the race but has not yet made a final decision whether to run, led Feingold 48% to 43% in February and held a similar lead in January.

Feingold easily beats his other two potential Republican opponents, but the real story is the Thompson matchup. In the last few months, the former governor has attracted a boatload of press about his potential decision to run - yet all the attention has only weakened his position. 

So even though Thompson's cohorts are hinting about a run, I'm still skeptical. His lobbyist connections being what they are, I bet Thompson was hoping for a much better number than he got today. 


CPAC: Classy

It's really problematic that CPAC organizers seem to think this type of thing is perfectly acceptable (via Think Progress):

Attendees at a conservative conference in town this week will have the opportunity to whack a pinata of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Conservative Political Action Conference “CPAC” begins Thursday here in D.C. and will feature a party Friday evening where guests will have the opportunity to whack a Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pinata.

Keri Ann Meslar, director of development for the Greater Washington Sports Alliance and Katherine Kennedy of The Blonde Charity Mafia will be two of three famous D.C. residents taking a turn at the pinata during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which starts on Thursday. Meslar will be the guest “whacker” at a CPAC-sponsored party in Georgetown.

Disturbing on a few levels, including the obvious ones related to violence.

But also weird how one-dimensional some of the conservative energy is. 'Pelosi bad!' Whack.

I can't imagine any equivalent at Netroots Nation - partly because the concept is so...garish? But also because it just wouldn't be satisfying. I don't want to whack McConnell in the head, I want to decrease his relative ability to affect the passage of progressive legislation!


WI-Sen: Tommy Thompson's Just Not That Into It

When asked specifically whether he'll challenge Russ Feingold, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson has usually been Captain Indecisive.

And that's fine - he can enjoy the publicity that comes with his hedging. But something tells me this race isn't up Tommy's alley, given that our former governor doesn't exactly seem ready to re-immerse himself in state-specific issues:

 “This election… it’s going to be decided on things, you know, that really are not that particular to Wisconsin.”  

There's two possible takes on Tommy's comment. I mentioned the first above - that Tommy's not keen on returning to the sort of comprehensive policy work that running for statewide office requires.

But there's a second possible take.

One of Feingold's declared Republican opponents, millionaire developer Terrence Wall, launched his campaign with an off-key TV ad attacking Feingold on two fronts: for supporting health care reform, and for not "listening anymore," despite the fact that Feingold goes to great lengths to visit all 72 counties in Wisconsin every year.

And Tommy Thompson knows that...it's no secret that Feingold consistently wins support from statewide independents who, while they may not agree with the Feingold on everything, know Senator Feingold well and trust his consistency.

So in a cycle when every Republican in America is running against Washington, how much room is there for a former Republican Cabinet Secretary who actually supported one of the Senate's versions of health care reform?

Probably not much. And Tommy's no fool.

Reid Scraps Baucus-Grassley Jobs Bill

Sounds like we won't bother casting our line into a dry pond:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that he was scrapping a draft of a bipartisan jobs bill proposed by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), just hours after the deal was announced


Reid said the tax extenders “confuse” the bill, and said other provisions called for in the Baucus-Grassley plan would be addressed in later measures. He added that Democrats have decided to make jobs the primary legislative focus for the year. “We don’t have a jobs bill. We have a jobs agenda,” Reid said.

It is unclear what Reid’s plan will mean for Republicans.

Many of the provisions in the Baucus-Grassley proposal, particularly the tax extenders, were seen as key to garnering Republican support.

The Senate Finance Committee, where healthcare reform legislation languished for months last year, had made an attempt at a jobs bill that, according to Congressional Quarterly, includes not only "a tax incentive for hiring; extensions of tax breaks and economic stimulus provisions that have expired or are about to; highway funding; and a provision to head off a cut in Medicare payments to doctors" but also a promise to deliver billions upon billions of dollars in tax cuts for the extremely wealthy in the form of an extension of estate and gift tax cuts.

But Republicans aren't interested in giving Obama anything resembling a win, let alone a bipartisan one. No use pretending.


Obama Threatens Recess Appointments

Obama today:

President Barack Obama is calling on lawmakers to stop blocking the confirmation of government appointees in the Senate by raising objections not related to their qualifications.

In a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room Tuesday, Obama said he will consider making recess appointments if the Senate doesn't act on the confirmation hearings.

Good. Harry Reid already floated the idea last week, but it's Obama's call to make. 

Shelby's blanket hold was ridiculous, but it probably wasn't just about money for Alabama - the Republican caucus is playing a little chicken with the White House. Nice to see the White House pushing back.



Obama today:

The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Tom -- and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much ...


... but that's not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.


No, I mean, that's how you guys -- that's how you guys presented it.

And so I'm thinking to myself, "Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist ..."

No, look, I mean, I'm just saying -- I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans -- it -- it's similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

So all I'm saying is we've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality.

I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

I mean, the fact of the matter is is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is, "This guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America."

And I -- I would just say that we have to think about tone.

It's not just on your side, by the way. It's -- it's on our side as well. This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.

I think all that's true. But you know what else? Turns out it's a winning strategy for Republicans. The health care bill is nationally unpopular and legislatively dying (at best). Their prospects in November have improved.

Yes, Republicans have left themselves with little ability to compromise, but it's not in their interest to compromise. And that Republicans would demonize the policy and misrepresent Obama was entirely predictable. Maybe they earnestly disagree with the proposals, or maybe they're just self-interested and cynical. It doesn't really matter - they're not going to vote for health care reform. Whether they'll compromise is not unknown. They won't.

And yes, we need to change how Washington works. Without question, our political discourse needs to communicate to voters with honesty and respect. 

But we also need to provide health care to uninsured Americans. So in the end, while it's satisfying for our president to be right...to take the high ground in the argument about process, it's not going to pass health care. 

For that, you actually have to win.



An Unfortunate Phrase From Today's Bank Announcement

FDR in 1936:

Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace - business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me - and I welcome their hatred.

Obama announcing new financial regulations today:

My message to members of Congress of both parties is that we have to get this done.  And my message to leaders of the financial industry is to work with us, and not against us, on needed reforms.  I welcome constructive input from folks in the financial sector.

Let's choose not to read into it...there are some signs the announced reforms will be tough. Time will tell.

Not Helpful

With voters still voting and volunteers still knocking doors and making phone calls, you'd hope our party would have enough tact and class not to pull crap like this:

With the finger-pointing rapidly intensifying among Dems over a possible Martha Coakley loss, a senior Democratic Party official is tearing into the Coakley campaign for pushing “lies and fantasies” over who’s to blame and deriding the Coakley effort as “the worst debacle in American political history.”

This comes in response to earlier squabbling. And of course everyone involved has bravely decided to leak this stuff anonymously.

Couldn't wait 24 hours guys? 


MA-Sen: Brown Implies Obama Was Born Out Of Wedlock

Sort of odd this hasn't popped up sooner, since it's an interview from the 2008 Republican convention:

Classy. And this feels like one of those IOKIYAR situations - can you imagine a Dem making the same implication?

The race could go either way. Making calls for Coakley is one way to help.

WI-Sen: Feingold Opponent Paid No State Income Tax In 4 Of Last 5 Years

I think Terrance Wall's goose is likely cooked (via WisPolitics):

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Terrence Wall paid no personal state income taxes in four of the past five years, according to figures obtained from the state Department of Revenue. 

From 2004 to 2008, Wall, a real estate developer who lives in the Madison enclave of Maple Bluff, only had a state personal income tax liability in 2005, when he paid $43,520, according to DOR records. That one-year amount was more than Wall’s GOP primary opponent David Westlake of Watertown and Dem U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold of Middleton each personally paid in total state personal income taxes over the five-year period.

This isn't the first tax issue for Wall - he's had others.

So who would the Republicans have left in Wisconsin? This guy (the orange uniforms are not a joke, sadly).


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