TPM News

A new bipartisan proposal that would allow innovative states to basically drop out of the health care law could help ease conservative opposition to the plan, even as the number of Republicans who have joined various lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate has swelled in recent months.

New legislation, introduced last week by Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) would make a simple tweak to the law: It would allow the states to implement their own health care systems, and thus be exempt from most of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The catch: Those programs would have to cover, with decent insurance, at least as many people as the health care law does, but without adding to the deficit.

The law technically already provides this exception -- but as currently written, states can only begin opting out in 2017. This new Wyden/Brown proposal would kick that date forward to 2014.

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A federal judge in Oklahoma today extended a restraining order that will prevent a so-called "Sharia ban" from going into effect for another week.

On Election Day, Oklahoma voters overwhelming approved a ballot question that would amend the state constitution, banning state courts from considering Sharia or international law. Muneer Awad, director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, then filed a lawsuit claiming the law violates his First Amendment rights and could prevent his will, which relies heavily on Islamic teachings, from being carried out. Awad is asking that the court permanently blocks the amendment from going into effect.

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Who wants to be President of the United States when you can be Governor of Texas? According to Rick Perry, trading the latter job for the former would be crazy -- and that's why he swears he's not running for president.

Perry, fresh off the national book tour where he called for states to secede from Social Security, stopped by Fox News Sunday yesterday for a quick victory lap after his fellow Republican governors chose him to head the Republican Governors Association last week.

Now that he's in charge of helping more Republican governors get elected, it perhaps makes sense that he'd be so darn into the job. But Perry also sought to tamp down rumors that a presidential run is in his future by making it clear he has the job he wants -- and also suggesting that the job everyone thinks he wants won't amount to much pretty soon.

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Former Justice Department lawyer and "torture memo" author John Yoo used a speeding metaphor to explain that just because he gave George W. Bush the legal justification for the "unpopular" decision to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Muhammed didn't mean Bush had to go through with it.

"Just because a law says you can drive 65 miles per hour doesn't mean you have to drive 65 miles per hour," Yoo said. "There's still a lot of discretion and choice that the leaders of our government had to make."

"I know part of the job from being the lawyer is defending sometimes unpopular decisions that your clients make. I'm willing to do that part of the job. But I also think that there's no escaping responsibility if people who make the policy decision," Yoo said in an interview on CNN on Friday.

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Mike Huckabee has an interesting take on how the recent Republican victories could affect the 2012 presidential race: He says it could help President Obama win re-election, by allowing him to position himself against Congress.

Huckabee said on The View: "I think it's gonna be harder to beat Barack Obama than a lot of Republicans are thinking, because he is the president, he's gonna have a billion dollars starting out in his war chest. There is an extraordinary advantage of an incumbent.

"And I'll tell you something else people don't think about: a divided government is good for the executive branch. The gift that the Republicans gave to him was that they're gonna control at least the House of Representatives, and they don't have -- and he doesn't have a filibuster-proof Senate. What that means is that when the executive and the legislative branches fight, the executive always wins. I was a governor ten and a half years with a very, overwhelming Democrat legislature. If you get something done, it's because you're a great consensus-builder."

Who knew this was possible: A politician making a very interesting and profound statement on The View?

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As TPM reported Friday, the House ethics committee has delayed the hearing of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and is sending the case back to investigation, citing new evidence in the case.

Waters, in response, released a scathing statement saying the decision all but proves that she is innocent and that the committee's case against her is weak. She also claimed that the new evidence in question is neither new nor damning.

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Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Justice Department told reporters Monday that defending Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act were "difficult" for the Obama administration.

"Those are difficult cases because as you know the administration has a long standing policy view on this -- supports the repeal of DOMA and supports the repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'," West said in response to a question from TPM.

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A jury has found a Salvadoran immigrant guilty of murdering Chandra Levy, an intern who was killed in Washington, D.C., in 2001.

According to reports, the jury has found Ingmar Guandique guilty of two counts of felony murder.

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