TPM News

Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) has become the latest Republican to face his vote for Medicare-ending House budget in the form of a TV ad. In the first major ad buy since Democrats used the issue to pull off a surprise win in the NY-26 special election, progressives are targeting Bass over his vote for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan, which eliminates Medicare and replaces it with a voucher system.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America say they hope to do significant damage to Bass, as well as bolster their choice to replace him, Ann Kuster. She's the progressive star who barely lost to Bass in 2010 after defeating Sen. Joe Lieberman's presidential campaign chair for the Democratic nomination. Kuster's running again this year.

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As California's constitutional ban on same sex marriage winds its way through the courts, a showdown over a similar marriage-defining referendum is brewing in Minnesota. And according to a PPP poll released this week, that battle could be hotly contested, as it found voters there are evenly split on the issue.

In the poll, 46% of registered voters said the state should amend its Constitution to stipulate that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, while 47% said they opposed such an amendment.

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White House counsel and veteran Democratic attorney Bob Bauer is heading back to private practice and to serve as the top lawyer for the President's re-election campaign at the end of July and will be replaced by his deputy, Kathryn Ruemmler, according to an administration release.

While Bauer will return to private practice at Perkins Coie, he will serve as general counsel to the President's reelection campaign, general counsel to the Democratic National Committee, and personal lawyer to President Obama.

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House Republicans will huddle on Thursday to discuss their members' position on Libya a day after unexpectedly withdrawing a resolution disapproving of the conflict. Speaker John Boehner conceded to reporters that many House Republicans are concerned by the military operation and called on President Obama to "step up" his explanations for the conflict.

On Wednesday schedulers abruptly canceled a vote on a resolution calling on the US to withdraw all forces from the conflict. The measure's sponsor, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), told reporters he believed House leaders pulled the legislation after realizing it might succeed with Republican backing.

"They changed their mind," he said after it was withdrawn on Wednesday. "They felt, well, it's going to pass."

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Wisconsin Republicans now have another mess to deal with in the state Senate recalls: Reports of a taped conversation in which a county GOP official is apparently heard discussing the possibility of recruiting spoiler candidates to mess with the Democrats.

The La Crosse Tribune reports on a meeting last week of Republicans in La Crosse County, in the western Wisconsin district of GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke, who is being challenged by Dem state Rep. Jennifer Shilling:

On the recording obtained by the Tribune, party vice chairman Julian Bradley says he just spoke with Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state GOP, and "we are actively keeping our ears to the ground and if anybody knows anybody for a candidate that would be interested on the Democratic side in running in the primary against Jennifer Shilling.... So if anybody knows any Democrats who would be interested, please let us know."

...

Should a primary be necessary, the general election would be pushed back, according to scenarios proposed by the Government Accountability Board.

That, Bradley said on the tape, "would give the state senator an extra month to campaign in. The opposition would obviously have to spend more time and more money."

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But when life gives you carcinogenic cell phone radiation, make burritos.

That's what Stephen Colbert did Thursday night, responding to a report that cell phones can increase the risk of brain cancer by placing a frozen burrito between his head and his phone.

"A quick ten-minute call to Nana, and lunch is ready," Colbert said.

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by Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica

It has been noted repeatedly that almost no top bankers have faced serious consequences for their actions in the financial crisis. But there is a Wall Street corollary that might be even more pernicious: good guys are punished.

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Sarah Palin's bus tour is making an appearance today in New Hampshire -- the same day that Mitt Romney is officially announcing his presidential campaign in the state, and in fact she'll only be a few minutes' travel away from him. But as she says, it's just a coincidence.

CNN reports:

"I think that's exciting for him, that's great for him," Palin told reporters at her Boston hotel before touring historical sites along the city's Freedom Trail. "It's coincidental that we are in the same territory at the same time, but more power to Mitt as he mounts his campaign and best of luck to him."

News leaked late yesterday that Palin is organizing a clambake for Thursday evening along the New Hampshire seacoast, just minutes from the Stratham farm where Romney plans to officially announce his second presidential bid.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims that a draft executive order being considered by the Obama administration would be an assault on free speech. The proposed order would require federal contractors to disclose donations to third party groups. But many of the companies affiliated with the Chamber have extolled the values of disclosure and already publicly reveal their donations voluntarily.

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