TPM Cafe: Opinion

A press conference on Monday by the McDaniel campaign suggests that the campaign found far fewer illegal votes than the approximately 7,600 votes separating him from Sen. Thad Cochran in the MS Republican Senate primary. Instead, it sounds like the campaign has alleged only 3,500 votes cast by voters who also (presumably illegally) voted in the earlier Democratic primary. There are 9,500 other votes said to be “irregular,” and 2,500 allegedly improper absentee ballots.

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Folks on both sides of the Common Core fight are getting increasingly serious. Common Core supporters are warning each other about the dangers of dismissing their opponents as “crazies.” And on the other side, at a recent Glenn-Beck-sponsored event, militant Common Core opponents suggested that Common Core skeptics should quit trying to link the standards to a “communist takeover” or “brainwashing” (to be fair, this came on a night where Common Core were attacked for trying to “cash in your children”).

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If there’s one attack that anti-abortion activists and lawmakers have seized upon in recent years to shutter abortion clinics, it’s this: Require those clinics to have hospital admitting privileges.

When September comes and most of them are put into effect, they are expected to leave behind a patchwork-quilt of access in low-clinic states. But reproductive rights advocates are cautiously optimistic that recent court rulings may finally stem the tide on these medically unnecessary restrictions.

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Low-wage workers — and everyone else who has a job — got some pleasant surprises from the Obama Administration this week.

On Tuesday, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board announced that McDonald’s could be treated as a “joint employer” in labor cases. That may sound like a small administrative matter, but it’s actually a big deal — and a big win for workers at McDonald’s and beyond.

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As the 2014 election cycle proceeds, it remains likely that Republicans will have a good — possibly even very good — November. If success is defined as a takeover of the Senate, the supposedly biased liberal mainstream media is pretty bullish about a GOP harvest, with the New York Times’ Nate Cohn giving Republicans a 60 percent probability of winning the Senate; the Washington Post’s Election Lab rating a GOP takeover as a 84 percent probability; and FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver projecting GOP gains of 5.7 seats (with six needed for a takeover). Nobody has talked seriously of a Democratic takeover of the House since last year; and even in state contests, where anti-incumbent sentiment should cut against GOP incumbents, Republicans could well hold or conceivably even improve their bloated margins among governors and state legislative chambers.

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Later-term abortions make up a very small portion of all terminations performed in this county: according to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 4.8 percent of all abortions occur after the 20th week of pregnancy. But that hasn’t stopped anti-choice activists and politicians from enacting an outsize number of laws to restrict this rare procedure, often using the medically controversial concept of “fetal pain” as a rationale to prevent women from terminating after the 20th or 22nd week.

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The tax subsidies provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to pay for health insurance are, of course, the subject of significant press coverage since dueling federal appeals courts came to different conclusions about who receives them this week. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held, in a 2-1 decision called Harbig v. Burwell, that an Internal Revenue Service regulation extending the tax subsidies to taxpayers who purchase insurance from the federally-operated exchange (which covers 36 states) violated the plain language of the ACA. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals came to the opposite conclusion. The U.S. Department of Justice is likely to seek full court review (called “en banc review”) of the D.C. Circuit case, which may well reverse the 3 judge panel that struck the IRS regulation down. And the issue could ultimately end up in the Supreme Court.

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Less than two years ago, President Obama pledged to confront the “bitter truth” of the human trafficking that goes on right here in the United States. “We can’t ask other nations to do what we are not doing ourselves,” he warned. Many of us hoped his words would usher in a new age in the fight against the abuse and exploitation of children.

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Yesterday’s runoff primaries in Georgia offered some unexpected drama, with David Perdue narrowly upsetting favored Senate opponent Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA). But the big picture is that the two “Establishment” candidates in this long contest wound up fighting to the finish in a competition characterized by heavy spending aimed at tarring each other as unacceptably moderate. No matter who won or lost, it would be a “true conservative” representing this state’s very conservative GOP “base” in the general election.

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