As the conflict in Wisconsin shifts from a battle over budget deficits into an ideological debate, some high-profile Republicans -- potential presidential contenders -- are lining up behind Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker spurred massive protests in his state earlier this month with a "budget repair bill" that proposes scaling back public workers' benefits, as well as their collective bargaining rights, among other things. The dramatic showdown continues in the state, even though public sector unions have agreed to scale back their benefits for the sake of deficit reduction.
Public workers and their supporters argue that eliminating most public unions' collective bargaining rights has nothing to do with the budget and that the governor should drop that element of his plan. Walker isn't budging, however, and several other politicians in the GOP have his back.Continue »
Gingrich was asked by Isabel Friedman, president of the Penn Democrats, how he can "reconcile" the "religious values that you so vigorously defend" with his own personal history. As Politico reports, Friedman noted that Gingrich "admitted to having an affair with your current wife while you were still married to your second."
As you can see in the video, shot by a member of the audience, a peeved-sounding Gingrich tried to cut Friedman off, stating, "I'll bet almost everybody here can gather the thrust of your question...I hope you feel better about yourself."
The former speaker eventually addressed the question, however:Continue »
The manuscript, penned by former Palin aide Frank Bailey with the help of Jeanne Devon and Ken Morris (both Palin critics), was compiled based on a trove of more than more than 60,000 e-mails Bailey sent or received during his tenure working for Palin, reports the Anchorage Daily News.
According to the Daily News, the 456-page document, entitled "In Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of our Tumultuous Years," is an unfinished draft with no set release date.
In some of the e-mails published in the manuscript - copies of which were obtained by Politico and the Anchorage Daily News - Palin allegedly expresses negativity about her duties as Alaska governor, and vows not to participate with any television networks other than Fox News.Continue »
On Washington Unplugged, former Senators Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) spoke with CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford about the possibility of a government shutdown -- which could happen in a matter of weeks if Congress fails to agree on a bill to fund government operations for the rest of the year.
Both men, now senior policy advisers with Arent Fox LLP, were in the Senate during the last government shutdown in December 1995, when the Republican-led Congress could not agree with President Bill Clinton on a spending bill. Bennett reacted critically and told Crawford, "I think the last shutdown was a serious mistake... The Republicans came out of that looking like petulant children." Continue »
Karl Rove, who served as White House chief of staff under President George W. Bush, is warning Republicans to avoid the "birther" debate.
"Within our party, we've got to be very careful about allowing these people who are the birthers and the 9/11-deniers to get too high a profile and say too much without setting the record straight," Rove said Tuesday on Fox News, as blogger Christian Heinze reports.
Rove was discussing a survey released this week by the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling, showing that 51 percent of Republican voters likely to participate in next year's presidential primaries are "birthers."
The term "birthers" refers to those who are skeptical of whether President Obama was born in the United States and is thus qualified to be president. The "birther movement" began during Mr. Obama's presidential campaign. It has steadily persisted through Mr. Obama's presidency, in spite of overwhelming evidence he was born in the United States -- including his 1961 birth announcement, printed in two Hawaii newspapers.
Rove said Tuesday that regardless of the true percentage of Republicans who question the president's origins, "it ought to be less."
"We need the leaders of our party to say, 'Look, stop falling into the trap of the White House and focus on the real issues,'" he said.
The poll, Rove said, "fits into the White House theme-line" of vilifying Republicans. "These guys may be lousy at governing," he said, "but they're damn good at politics."Continue »
Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET
Today's surprising House vote to kill the extra engine for the supersonic F-35 is another sign that it's not exactly business as usual in Washington. For the second time in a week, Republicans bucked their new House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
"I think it's our obligation that we're not going to go along with leadership on everything they put forth," Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) said in advance of the vote.
First, fiscal conservatives forced Boehner to make much deeper cuts in their proposed budget for the rest of the year. Today, on the jet engine, which Boehner supports, they sided instead with Tea-Party-backed Tom Rooney (R-Fla.).
"This isn't about parochial interests," Rooney says. "For us standing here, this is about what we can afford and what we cannot affore anymore."
The spare engine for the F-35 has become a posterchild for government waste. The military doesn't want it; Presidents Obama and Bush have said it's not necessary. But Congress shoved it back into the budget every year starting in 2007. Made by General Electric, it has cost taxpayers $3 billion so far. Getting rid of it would save $450 million this year alone.
Supporters of the alternate engine, including Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), say having two engines from competing companies would theoretically save money down the road.Continue »
Christie, who was announced Wednesday morning as the GOP pick to serve
as Vice Chair of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), delivered a speech today at the conservative American Enterprise Institute on the "big problems" in America today.
"I think people are ready to hear the truth," he said. "I really think it's extraordinarily important for those of us who believe that our country is off on the wrong track to begin the conversation ... about how we fix the problems that ail our states and our country in a direct and blunt way."
An increasingly prominent conservative voice on the national stage, Christie today addressed issues like the longterm stability of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as issues like government pension programs and the education system.
He cast himself as a "fighter" taking on President Obama, teachers' unions and the ways of Washington. As he has repeatedly, however, he brushed off the idea of a possible presidential bid -- at least for now.Continue »
Both Democrats and Republicans from Florida are balking at Florida Gov. Rick Scott's decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal aid to build a high-speed train line between Orlando and Tampa -- and one senator is even trying to completely bypass the Republican governor's opposition to the project.
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson spoke with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood today about financing the Tampa-Orlando rail line without the state government's involvement, the Palm Beach Post reports.
"We are exploring... how we could keep this project going forward since the state of Florida will not participate," Nelson told the Post. "We have the lawyers researching it."
Scott announced earlier today that he was rejecting the money because he believed the state could be on the hook for as much as $3 billion in cost overruns. Additionally, he said he was skeptical ridership would pay for the line's operating costs.
Nelson said earlier today that rejecting the federal investment amounted to "turning down 24,000 jobs, when we badly need them," the Miami Herald reports.
Republican Rep. John L. Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the decision "a huge setback for the state of Florida, our transportation, economic development and important tourism industry."
The governor's decision is a significant snub at the Obama administration, which recently unveiled a major plan to spend $53 billion over six years on developing high speed rail lines across the country. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that the administration believes high speed rail projects will help create jobs and create the infrastructure "that allows us to compete in the 21st century."
Other countries are already advanced when it comes to high speed rail, Carney said. "We need to be."
LaHood said in a statement today that his department is "extremely disappointed" by Scott's decision. And in fact, LaHood said, his department had worked with Scott to ensure that private businesses competing for the project would assume the cost overruns and operating expenses -- not the state.Continue »
As the House of Representatives continues to debate hundreds of amendments to a budget-cutting bill, there's increasing speculation that disagreements over federal spending could lead to a government shutdown. Republican Senate leaders, however, are suggesting that they'll be able to reach a compromise with President Obama and Democrats in Congress to keep the government up and running.
"The government isn't going to shut down," Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate Republican Whip, said on Fox News Tuesday night. "Nobody is talking about shutting the government down."
The Continuing Resolution (CR) bill currently on the House floor would keep the government operating past March 4. Some version of the CR is needed to avoid a shutdown since the Democratic-led Congress failed to pass a budget last year. Congress in December passed a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating through March 4.
However, Republicans are attempting to follow through on their campaign promise to cut tens of billions from the federal budget immediately -- making the CR bill incredibly contentious as lawmakers protest cutting funding for the likes of job training programs and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday issued a statement indicating that Mr. Obama will veto the CR bill as it stands, saying that the bill "proposes cuts that would sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation, and would reduce funding for the Department of Defense to a level that would leave the Department without the resources and flexibility needed to meet vital military requirements."Continue »
The proposal, brought up by the Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, seeks to create a state-issued license plate honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army and, it is believed one of the earliest members of (and first "Grand Wizard" to) the white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan.
Barbour, considered a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said he didn't think the proposal would be successful and that he did not, as a policy, denounce things or people.
"I don't go around denouncing people," he said, according to the Associated Press, when asked for a response to the proposal. "That's not going to happen. I don't even denounce the news media."
"I know there's not a chance it'll become law," he added.Continue »
One hour and a dozen questions later, CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer asked: was there any news in President Obama's press conference on the budget?
"I thought his bottom line on the budget was, you can throw it away, at least for the long-term," CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid said immediately following on "Washington Unplugged."
"It's about worth the paper it's printed on."
The 2012 proposed budget, which is unlikely to pass Congress in its current form, includes $1.1 trillion in deficit savings over 10 years and was presented to Congress Monday. It was immediately panned by Republicans for not tackling entitlement reform, including Social Security and Medicare.v
"I certainly didn't get any indication [Tuesday] that he's ready to run up to Capitol Hill and start negotiating on these things," Reid added.
"The big question mark here is entitlements," CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis said. "That is the bulk of our budget and it's not accounted for in the budget that's been proposed by the Obama administration."Continue »
originally appeared on Slate.
In this budget tradition, after the denunciation comes the wrangling. Party leaders took shots at each other in conference calls and press conferences, trying to shape the budget process that will play out over the next few months. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the Republican budget was "slash and burn." Though Obama had proposed steep cuts in discretionary spending that his liberal allies rejected, Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the president had failed to lead.
But this familiar theater was more irritating than usual this year. Both the president and GOP leaders had promised that they would start talking about the choices required to keep the budget deficit from growing out of control. If we restructure entitlements and streamline the tax code now, the argument went, we won't have to make emergency drastic moves in the future. We were supposed to have the adult conversation in 2011 (year of the owl in the Chinese budget calendar). Instead, we have year of the duck. The dreary public conversation so far has been about a small, 15 percent portion of the budget. (On this budget chart hit the "isolate discretionary spending." What's left is the small terrain of today's budget fight.)
But what if this isn't the predictable race to the puny that we've come to expect? What if the president and GOP leaders are being adults behind the scenes (or at least trying to be)? It would be the smartest way to get anything done. It would keep the entitlement conversation from getting hijacked, and it would build on the model for interaction that helped bring about the agreement last year with Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts.
In that battle, the president put Joe Biden in a room with Mitch McConnell to work out a deal. There was also a public process--meetings of a gang of noble senators and White House officials--but the real work was being done in private. Once the details had been arranged, the president presented the deal publicly and worked hard to push it the final short stretch until it became law.Continue »
Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona lawman who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff," said Monday he is open to a run for Senate in 2012 in the wake of a poll that found him to be the leading Republican contender.
Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff best known for his aggressive efforts to capture illegal immigrants, said "the door is open right now" to a run, as The Hill reports, though he said he was not sure he wanted to leave his job as sheriff.
The comments came in the wake of a release of a poll conducted by Summit Consulting Group that found Arpaio to be the leading candidate to replace retiring Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl. Arpaio had 21 percent support among likely Republican primary voters, followed by Rep. Jeff Flake (who yesterday announced a run) at 16.8 percent and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth at 16.6 percent. Former Rep. John Shadegg came in fourth at 12 percent, and freshman Rep. Ben Quayle fifth at six percent.Continue »
Sarah Palin has turned to Facebook and Twitter to criticize President Obama's 2012 budget proposal. Here's what she wrote on Twitter: "Here's how minuscule the White House's $775 million a year cuts are: less than 1/10 of 1% of this year's budget deficit."
And on Facebook: "If you want to know how minuscule their proposed $775 million-a-year budget 'cuts' really are, please look at this chart. The proposed cuts are so insignificant - less than 1/10 of 1% of this year's $1.65 trillion budget deficit - that they are essentially invisible on the pie chart. That speaks volumes about today's budget."
Palin links in both places to a chart posted on The Blaze, Glenn Beck's website, five days ago - before the budget proposal came out. It uses an op-ed by White House Budget Director Jacob Lew to suggest that Mr. Obama was proposing to cut $775 million from the budget, and goes on to mock that amount as insignificant.
The problem? Lew wrote in his op-ed that he was only discussing "a small fraction of the scores of cuts" in the budget proposal, not the total proposed cuts, as a Democratic official pointed out to Ben Smith. Now, it's difficult to quantify the exact total of those first year cuts, and there is new spending that actually increases the deficit projection for 2012. But the cuts themselves are certainly more than Palin suggests: there are $2.5 billion in cuts to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program alone, for example. Smith writes that the proposed cuts, in total, add up to about $75 billion.
There is no problem with Palin criticizing the cuts as too small, of course. But the simple fact is that she is using an incorrect figure as the basis of her critique.
During a question and answer session at the Conservative Political Action conference Saturday, conservative commentator Ann Coulter was asked what is more important to America's values: maintaining a strong relationship with Israel or "knowing there are jailed dissidents and journalists."
"What do you mean, 'knowing that there are jailed journalists?'" Coulter answered. "I think there should be more jailed journalists."
Coulter received a raucous round of applause from the audience for her response.Continue »