In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is about to begin its push for a new addition to the economic stimulus bill, debate on which will begin today in the House.

And anyone who thought K Street would stop seeking its share of the stimulus pie after convincing Democrats to add the mysteriously named "net operating loss carryback" to the stimulus ... well, you'd be wrong. K Street wants more tax breaks for businesses -- and the latest one is called the "cancellation of indebtedness (COI) waiver."

Read More →

We've already posted several clips of our inauguration interview with the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank (D-MA), but the need to keep those videos short -- links to them are here, here, and here -- left some of his most newsworthy statements on the cutting-room floor.

After the jump, find a transcript of the portions of the Frank interview that didn't make it into the clips.

Read More →

Today: Obama's First Full Day In Office President Obama has a full day ahead of him on both the foreign and domestic policy fronts. He'll be meeting today with Sec. of Defense Robert Gates and multiple high-ranking military officials to discuss his dual goals of withdrawing from Iraq and increasing the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan, and will have another meeting with his economic team to discuss his stimulus package.

Hillary's Confirmation At State Expected Today The Senate is expected to vote today to confirm Hillary Clinton's nomination to be Secretary of State. The nomination was held up yesterday by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who objected to a unanimous approval and instead secured an open debate and a recorded vote for today.

More Litigation In Minnesota Today The three-judge panel appointed to hear Norm Coleman's lawsuit against the Minnesota election result is meeting at 3:30 p.m. ET to hear arguments in Al Franken's motion to dismiss the case. A full dismissal seems unlikely, but it is quite possible that the court could dismiss some of Coleman's individual claims, and then proceed to trial on the pared-down suit.

Geithner Confirmation Starts Today Timothy Geithner's confirmation hearing to be Secretary of the Treasury begins today. The Senate Finance Committee appears to be pulled in two directions -- Geithner's reputation for competence and the need to install an economic team quickly, versus the embarrassment of Geithner's own personal tax problems -- but he is still expected to be confirmed with some Republican support.

Obama Seeks Pause In Gitmo Trials President Obama has already ordered prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay to request a 120-day freeze in the military trials, as the new administration reviews and likely changes the policies involved. Said one of the defense attorneys: "We welcome our new commander-in-chief and this first step towards restoring the rule of law."

Paterson: I Still Haven't Decided On Senate Pick In an interview with CBS News yesterday evening, Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) said he still hasn't decided who he will appoint to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, but that it will happen in the next few days. Paterson said he was picking from among "10 or 11" candidates, all of whom he found to be impressive as individuals.

Obama On The Oath: "We've Got A Lot Of Stuff On Our Minds" In an interview with ABC News, President Obama sought peace and reconciliation on the issue of the awkward rendering of the oath of office yesterday by Chief Justice Roberts and himself. "Well, listen, I think we were up there, we've got a lot of stuff on our minds and he actually, I think, helped me out on a couple of stanzas there," said Obama. "Overall, I think it went relatively smoothly and I'm very grateful to him."

Now that Barack Obama has spent two years campaigning, won an election and has now been sworn in, the difficult part will begin tomorrow: His first full day of work as President of the United States.

Obama will reportedly be meeting tomorrow with Sec. of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, Gen. David Petraeus, and others to discuss the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Attending via video teleconference will be Gen. David McKiernan, the commander in Afghanistan, and Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander in Iraq.

Also up for tomorrow, the new White House has confirmed, will be a meeting with his economic advisers, expected to take place in the afternoon. The big task there will be discussion on his economic stimulus plan.

It should also be noted that Obama performed some significant official acts today, as well. He issued an order halting all pending regulations that were issued by the lame-duck George W. Bush but have not yet taken effect. And the Senate voted unanimously to confirm six cabinet officers.

The only fly in the ointment was that Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) held up the unanimous approval of Hillary Clinton to become Secretary of State, requiring an open debate and a recorded vote to be held tomorrow.

Even on this day, of all days, the Minnesota Senate disaster keeps on going.

Late last week the Coleman legal team obtained a subpoena for state elections director Gary Poser, who was in charge of running the recount, ordering him to hand over internal correspondence relating to nearly every controversial topic you can think of.

Now the state Attorney General's office has come back with their own motion to quash the subpoena, arguing that the documents being requested are not legally within the bounds of the contest, and that the state is not required to take up its time to produce all of them.

The precise legal arguments in this latest squabble seem a bit unclear, as does the significance of the development itself. But one thing is easy to understand: Not even the inauguration of a new president can stop the lawyers from arguing in Minnesota.

It's ebullient here. Was just walking through Georgetown which is crowded with happy revelers but if you've looked at the markets you know the Dow is off about 4 percent at 3:30 and even if it were to recover, it's shows how much deep despair there is about the banking system despite the cappucino, Red Bull and amphetamines that have been applied to the system. A few weeks ago, Bank of America, with its takeover of Merrill Lynch looked like one of the few stable survivors, along with JP Morgan Chase, of this era. Now the Charlotte-based behemoth is in free fall, down nearly 25 percent this afternoon.

All of this strengthens Obama's already very strong hand with Congress. From the western steps of the Capitol, the 535 members saw the power of that crowd spread across the mall. Churlish Republicans may be able to dis Obama, but it's hard to think of any Democrat who is going to screw with him at this point. Power waxes and wanes but the combination of DC-based adulation and Wall Street woes, gives Obama an incredible boost going into his first day at the office.

Ted Kennedy has been taken to the hospital, the news networks have reported, after he suffered a seizure a short time ago at the inaugural lunch on Capitol Hill.

A few minutes ago, Fox News showed Kennedy being taken away in an ambulance as John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Orrin Hatch and others looked on.

Speaking to reporters just now, Walter Mondale said that Kennedy and others at the table were telling old stories to each other, "and then it just stopped." Mondale added that he's heard second-hand that Kennedy is doing better.

Robert Byrd was also seen leaving the event early, being escorted out in his wheelchair, but at this point it does not appear that his symptoms were as serious as Kennedy's.

Late Update: Byrd's spokesman told the local NBC affiliate in West Virginia that Byrd was not hospitalized. Instead, Byrd left the room because he was upset over Ted Kennedy's difficulties.

Late Late Update: The Associated Press reports that officials at Washington Hospital Center say Kennedy is awake and answering questions.

A stunning moment, a great speech. I don't think any single line will enter the lexicon like Kennedy's "ask not" or FDR's "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Obama's "age of responsibility" seemed flat, forgettable. But the moments that punctuated it like the call for the end of "childish things" gave it a momentum that made it greater than the sum of its parts.

There was a liberal, JFK hawkishness about the speech that I found compelling. There was the martial memory of Valley Forge, but also "we will defeat you" and we "will not apologize for our way of life." There was the expected outstretched hand to the Muslim world--made all the more powerful by the once verboten word Hussein echoing across the Mall. But the stern words about terrorism were more extensive and explicit and impressive than I would have expected. I loved his challenge "to those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West"--the West, there's a phrase you don't hear a lot anymore. It was a shot at the like of Hugo Chavez. He used the word "war" and promised our enemies "defeat." The explicit defense of the market and capitalism was unexpected and refreshing. Kind of wish he'd mentioned Fallujah along with Normandy and Khe Sahn. (If you think Iraq and Vietnam were the wrong wars, then Fallujah belongs in that line as much as Khe Sahn, since he was discussing service not policy.)

The linkages with the past, the "for us", rhetorical device gave it the historical lift. Has the word "swill" ever been used in an inaugural?

That said, I thought the dis of Bush-era interrogation measures and civil liberties shortcuts was also stronger and more explicit than I would have thought. It was a pretty bald shot at his predecessor.

And the Joe Lowery's finish, humorous and poignant, was a incredible finish, far better than having, say, Obama invoking King by name. If there's any better living witness to the King years, it's hard to think of one. Mercifully, the phrase "yes, we can"--powerful but now hammered to death--was left in the campaign file.

By the way, on the oath flub, someone who works with Roberts told me that he had practiced the oath extensively. It seemed to me that Roberts flubbed and not Obama, but I'll leave that to the replays.

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama sought to lay out two separate but very much complementary messages. Part of the address was expressed in terms of what it his administration will not be -- the Bush years. Beyond that, and more importantly, he laid out an extensive positive vision of what he believes America and indeed the whole world can be, motivated by a faith in American culture .

Obama acknowledged the troubles facing the country at home and abroad -- but assured the country that we will succeed:

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.


Obama spoke of America as a country that has throughout its history expanded the reaches of freedom and prosperity, and reminded the country that we enjoy our quality of life today because of the work of others who came before us:

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today.

Read More →



The following is the full prepared text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

Read More →

LiveWire