In it, but not of it. TPM DC

A new poll released Wednesday showed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leading almost two dozen names in the race for Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) Senate seat, including California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D).

But Rice's chief of staff said that the former secretary of State still isn't interested in jumping into the race and is happing teaching at Stanford University.

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Everybody knows that if the Supreme Court rules later this year to invalidate Obamacare's tax subsidies in the 30-plus states using the federal HealthCare.gov, it will be a massive blow to the law. More than 9 million people could lose their health insurance and the law's insurance markets could be sent into an actuarial death spiral.

But that isn't the whole story. An adverse Court decision would also completely neuter Obamacare's employer mandate in more than half the states, further weakening the law's ability to achieve its goal of universal and adequate health coverage.

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The definitive Democratic counterproposal in the fledgling fight over Social Security is starting to emerge, and it has a familiar ring in the era of income inequality politics: tax the rich.

More specifically, Democrats are proposing to raise or eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes. Those taxes are currently collected up to $118,500 of a person's income, and any income above that is Social Security tax-free. The liberal Center for American Progress said in a new report last week that the program had lost $1.1 trillion over the last 30 years because of it.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced last week that he would propose eliminating the cap for income above $250,000. His office estimated that that would keep Social Security solvent until 2060; the program is currently projected to start running out of money in 2033.

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When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Ron Dermer as Israel’s ambassador to the United States in 2013, the move was seen as so provocative that aides to the PM were reportedly worried that the White House would balk at the choice. Dermer came with a lot of baggage. An American by birth, he had worked as a Republican operative, helping to draft Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America in 1994, before emigrating to Israel. There, he eventually became a close political adviser to Netanyahu, while remaining deeply connected in Republican politics in America.

Dermer didn’t fit the prototype of a diplomat, someone who works to transcend the partisan politics back home and assiduously avoids becoming enmeshed in the partisan politics of the country where he is posted. As it was Dermer who reportedly helped organize Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's visit to Israel in the heat of the 2012 campaign, one of the Netanyahu government’s many affronts to the Obama White House, skeptics assumed he would simply continue acting as a partisan political operative.

Although he's worked to dispel that image, a string incidents have raised red flags and were more in line with a political animal who hadn't changed much since assuming his country's most important diplomatic post. For Dermer’s critics, those incidents would turn out to be mere prelude to the dramatic rift in formal US-Israel relations that Dermer would ultimately help trigger in January.

Dermer’s carefully orchestrated effort in cooperation with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to inject Netanyahu into the congressional debate over Iran sanctions with an address to a joint session of Congress just days before elections in Israel -- without any consultation with the White House and State Department as it was planned -- provoked the nastiest public spat in what has been a consistently uneasy relationship between Obama and the prime minister.

"If you had asked me the day before the State of the Union speech, I would have said to you that (Dermer) had overcome a tremendous amount of adversity and was looking real. ... He was getting around and he was talking to everybody," Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, who advised Obama during his 2008 campaign, told TPM. "But then he did this and it either suggests that he decided to go all-in in a game of poker where he could not win, or in fact everything else had been a facade and he didn't learn anything."

In the view of American critics, Dermer is at best a political operative bringing the dark arts of that trade to the world stage, where the stakes are too high and the consequences too severe for petty hardball. At worst, in their view, Dermer represents something far more troubling: a direct reflection of Netanyahu’s own approach to politics and diplomacy.

In the latter perspective, Dermer is channeling Bibi when seizing on American political divisions to advance the prime minister's, and ultimately, his own, political agenda. These critics believe such maneuvering threatens America’s bipartisan support for Israel, as the Dermer legacy would be not merely a monumental misstep with the Netanyahu speech, but an undermining of the American pro-Israel consensus that could no longer be taken for granted.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) new state budget is tailor made to do two things: endear him to conservatives and enrage liberals, both in and out of Wisconsin. The budget is widely perceived in Wisconsin as an opening salvo in Walker's 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, a way to solidify his bona fides with the conservative primary base.

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