TPM News

Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) spokesman is strongly denying that she wants to end Social Security and Medicare, in the wake of comments by the Congresswoman that she wanted to "wean everybody off" those programs, and take their liabilities off the government's balance sheet because "we can't do it."

"Rep. Bachmann does not want to end Social Security and Medicare. Absolutely not," Bachmann spokesman Dave Dziok told the Star Tribune. "But the truth is, they need to be fixed in how they're administered because under their current structure, they can't be maintained without increasing the debt burden placed on future generations. Further, she stated clearly that people who are receiving these benefits now should continue to do so in their current form. We made a promise to them and we need to keep it."

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Who will be the lucky beneficiary of the hefty fee Sarah Palin received for her Tea Party Convention address?

Mark Skoda, a spokesman for the convention, tells TPMmuckraker that when he called Palin's office in the days after the speech to thank her for appearing and inquire about the money, "at that point they had no disposition at all. I do know that she's committed to providing that honorarium to conservative causes."

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In an interview just published in Esquire, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) presents himself as a true conservative -- but not too mean-spirited, either.

Pawlenty points to his success as a conservative in a liberal state. "But on the broader issue of Minnesota: This is also the state of Eugene McCarthy, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Paul Wellstone, and now Senator Al Franken. Minnesota has evolved and ebbed and flowed a little bit in its politics, but it is fair to say that, with few exceptions, it's been one of the more liberal states in the country," said Pawlenty. "It's the history, the tradition, the culture here. I'm someone who has confronted that in a way that for some is refreshing and for some is quite dramatic, in a way that is viewed as quite a departure from the normal trajectory here. Most of the Republicans who have succeeded here have been mostly very moderate, Democrat lite. I'm somewhat an exception to that. I'm more of a mainstream conservative governing in a liberal state."

However, he did back away from some key GOP attack points against President Obama. While strenuously disagreeing with Obama's policies, he did not agree with calling Obama a socialist. And interestingly, he also said he would have supported the Medicare prescription drug benefit passed by President George W. Bush in 2003 -- one of the largest expansions of government involvement in social welfare since the Great Society.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Former Vice President Dick Cheney.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Vice President Joe Biden.

• CNN, State Of The Union: National Security Adviser James Jones, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN).

• Fox News Sunday: National Security Adviser James Jones, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Vice President Joe Biden.

In a big world, how can one person make a difference? How can one person, who sees the path to economic salvation in tax cuts for corporations and businessmen, have an effect when he's not in public office?

If that person is Harold Ford Jr., he does what he can: Cuts his own taxes.

Ford, who's considering a primary challenge of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), has never paid New York State income tax, a spokeswoman confirmed to Gawker today.

Ford's residency has been hazy. In interviews, Ford has said he's been commuting between Tennessee and New York since starting at Merrill. He says he's been an official New York resident since last year. But as Gawker points out, New York requires that even non-residents and partial residents pay income taxes. Tennessee, on the other hand, does not tax wages.

The spokeswoman said Ford, a former Congressman from Tennessee who works for Merrill Lynch, has never filed a return here, although he plans to do so this year.

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Missouri state Sen. Gary Nodler, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the open seat of GOP Rep. Roy Blunt, has offered up an argument for keeping the ban on gays in the military: That allowing gays to serve openly would endanger the troops, by offending the people of the Muslim countries where we are fighting.

"There are real-world implications," Nodler said, according to columnist Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "This is a policy that would directly threaten the lives of soldiers today." Nodler also called the presence of gay troops a "cultural affront" to Muslim countries.

Messenger construed this as meaning: "Sen. Gary Nodler doesn't want to offend the terrorists." Nodler clarified what he meant to Messenger, explaining that he is not sympathizing with terrorists, but with the native populations in these countries. "I don't care what the Taliban thinks about it and I don't care what Al-Qaeda thinks about it," said Nodler. "I do care what Iraqi-allied commanders think about it with American forces integrated into their units."

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters this afternoon that President Obama will sign a bill raising the debt ceiling and instituting PAYGO today.

Gibbs did not say whether the signing would be open to the press.

The legislation will raise the government's debt limit $1.9 trillion, to $14.3 trillion. It also re-institutes PAYGO, which requires that all legislation be paid for, either through tax increases or spending cuts.

Senate candidate Carly Fiorina blamed politicians in Washington when asked to clear up her suggestion that California file for bankruptcy, and said the "simple" solution to the Golden State's economic woes is to grow the economy and cut spending.

Fiorina (R-CA) has been the subject of mocking from both parties for the remarks she made earlier this week to business leaders, with her rivals for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer saying it shows her lack of political experience.

Yesterday a radio host in Fresno asked Fiorina - who was chief executive of Hewlett Packard until a few years ago - what she really meant.

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Connecticut liberals rejoice: Ned Lamont is back. The man who turned Joe Lieberman into an independent in 2006 will officially throw his hat into the 2010 gubernatorial race next week, according to the AP.

A Lamont run to replace retiring Gov. Jodi Rell (R) has been rumored for months, but the official announcement will likely kick Lamont fans into high gear. Polling has shown Lamont leading potential Republican opponents, but tied in the field of potential Democratic nominees.

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