TPM News

When the Super Committee starts making budget cuts, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) knows just where they should start: the Justice Department's $16 muffins.

DOJ's Inspector General on Tuesday released an audit of the agency's spending on conference planning and food and beverage costs that highlighted some examples of wasteful spending in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, periods which spanned both the Bush and Obama administrations.

One example: The law enforcement agency spent $16 each on 250 muffins served at a D.C. legal conference held in August 2009.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott has had a tumultuous first term, often coming under fire for his conservative policies.

But a new Quinnipiac poll shows Florida voters overwhelmingly support at least one of the governor's initiatives: a law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test.

Voters support the law 71 percent to 27 percent, according to the poll. And while voters are split on partisan lines, both genders support the law equally, more or less. Republicans support the law 90 percent to 8 percent, while democrats are split 49 percent to 50 percent.

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House Dem leadership is urging all caucus members to oppose the Republican legislation to continue funding the government past September 30 on the grounds that it cuts a popular manufacturing program to pay for federal disaster aid.

"Democratic Members are urged to vote NO on the previous question and the bill -- as disasters are an emergency and we should not have to cut good-paying American jobs to provide essential disaster relief for families, small businesses, and communities," reads a memo from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office.

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The House of Representatives has just defeated a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. The legislation was defeated 195-230. At issue in the bill is the GOP’s insistence that disaster aid be offset with spending cuts. House Dems today whipped against the bill.

Mitt Romney is keeping up the pressure on Rick Perry over his long history of Social Security criticism, demanding Perry explain how the program could be run by individual states.

"This election is about choices and voters - and voters will have the opportunity to choose between Mitt Romney, who wants to fix and strengthen Social Security for the next generation, and Rick Perry, who wants to dismantle it," Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement. "Voters are now learning more about Rick Perry's position on Social Security and find it troubling that he has refused to answer questions on what the Social Security program would look like at the state level, as Rick Perry suggests."

The Romney release goes on to press Perry on the finer points of his repeated suggestion that Social Security could be ended at the federal level and instead relegated to the states, asking, for example, what would happen to people who lived in one state and then moved to another to retire.

Perry's camp pushed back, accusing Romney of breaking faith with the GOP.

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Jumping off a Romney/Perry battle, the DNC has issued a list of six questions of their own for Mitt Romney’s stance on Social Security. Earlier on Wednesday, the Romney camp posed a list of six questions to Rick Perry about his statements on Social Security.

Mitt Romney on Wednesday told a town hall in Miami that he wants a tax policy that will help “those who have been hurt by the Obama economy,” CBS reports.

“And that’s the middle class,” Romney said. “It’s not those in the low end; it’s certainly not those in the very high end. It’s for the great middle class – the 80 to 90 percent of us in this country.”

Five people calling themselves the “Google Track Team” clad in white track suits splashed with the phrase “don’t be evil” followed Hill staffers around the hallways of a Senate office building where Google CEO Eric Schmidt was testifying on his company’s practices on Wednesday.

The August fundraising figures are in for both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The DSCC reports it raised $2.5m during the month.

The NRSC reports it raised $2.96m during August.

For the cycle to date, the DSCC reports itself as having raised $29m and the NRSC $27.2m.

President Obama welcomes the release of two U.S. hikers who have been jailed in Iran for the past two years. Obama released the following statement:

I welcome the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal from detention in Iran and am very pleased that they are being reunited with their loved ones. The tireless advocacy of their families over these two years has won my admiration, and is now coming to an end with Josh and Shane back in their arms. All Americans join their families and friends in celebrating their long-awaited return home.

We are deeply grateful to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the Swiss government, and to all our partners and allies around the world who have worked steadfastly over the past two years to secure the release of Shane and Josh.