TPM News

On a Monday conference call with reporters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) officially announced that he'll move ahead with the first stand-alone piece of President Obama's jobs bill this week -- a $35 billion state aid measure to prevent layoffs of teachers and emergency fist responders. But he's prepared for Republicans to stand in the way.

"I'll bring this bill for a vote as soon as possible," Reid told reporters, noting that the entire cost will be offset with a small fraction of the millionaire surtax Dems proposed to pay for the entire Obama jobs bill.

"As soon as possible" could be a while, if Republicans want to gum things up. The current business on the Senate floor is a so-called "minibus" appropriations bill, to fund the Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Agriculture and other departments that will run out of money in November. For procedural and Constitutional reasons, Reid can't force a vote on the teacher and firefighter aid plan as an amendment to this approps bill -- so he's planning to move directly to it after the minibus has cleared the Senate, ideally by weeks end.

"There is no reason we cannot finish the appropriations bills before the end of the week, and have a vote on this jobs bill," Reid said. "I am happy to keep the Senate in session as long as needed to make sure we get a vote on this jobs bill."

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Economists and monetary policy wonks have been screaming about this for months -- sometimes at each other. Now economists at investment giant Goldman Sachs are on board. In a proprietary analysis for clients, Goldman economists Jan Hatzius and Sven Jari Stehn say the Federal Reserve should announce publicly that it will pursue a bit of inflation, and make good on that goal with looser monetary policy -- a new round of so-called "Quantitative Easing."

From the analysis: "[W]e believe that the Fed's most promising option for delivering significant further policy easing would be a shift to a nominal GDP level target coupled with large-scale asset purchases.

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Before he shifted his position to run for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney had always been pro-choice -- right?

Apparently not. According to an article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg in Sunday's New York Times, Romney's shifts on the abortion issue go back even further. Before embracing a pro-choice position in the mid-90s, Romney, as a leader in the Mormon Church, was fiercely pro-life. He once even urged a pregnant mother of four to carry a life-threatening pregnancy to term.

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The Internet was set ablaze on Monday with the video of former Godfather's Pizza magnate and current Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain singing a pizza-themed version of John Lennon's "Imagine."

Soon, thanks to TPM's own @BenjySarlin, a hashtag was born:

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It isn't easy being the guy in charge. A new study from Pew Research Center of campaign coverage finds that only 9% of news reports on President Obama have been "positive," easily the lowest number of any of the major candidates. Surprisingly, Rick Perry fares the best with 32% positive coverage and non-candidate Sarah Palin is right behind him at 31%. Take a look:

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What can't robots do these days? As the the engineering society IEEE's robotics page shows, there's a robot for everything these days, so why not a robot to play ping pong?

Researchers at China's Zhejiang University in Hangzhou recently unveiled a pair of ping-pong playing robots called "Wu" and "Kong" and their special skill is rallying between themselves and humans, as shown in the video below.

The two robots are 5.25 feet and 121 pounds and can be seen in the segment placidly hitting the ping pong ball back and forth to each other.

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In an ambitious move to try to give "another perspective" on the United States, PBS is launching a new channel in the United Kingdom.

PBS chief executive Paula Kerger tells The Guardian she hopes the new UK channel -- sans Sesame Street -- will "give people here in the UK a sense of how news is reported in the United States," as well as the big issues affecting Americans.

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