TPM News

Another day and more gridlock in Minnesota.

Budget negotiations continued Tuesday to try to avert a state government shutdown, but no deal has stuck yet.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton again met with Republican leaders of the legislature, calling the talks "constructive." But he said they still have their differences. Beyond that, details of the negations have been been intentionally vague, as lawmakers have committed not to speak publicly about the specifics of the meetings.

With a June 30 deadline to avert a shutdown, how realistic are the chances of a deal?

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Let's assume Democrats and Republicans team up in the next few weeks to pass a very GOP friendly debt reduction bill. And let's stipulate, too, that, as in Britain and elsewhere, the spending-cut magic doesn't do anything to help the unemployment crisis, leaving President Obama and the Democrats a huge political liability -- and national problem -- they won't be able to resolve by election time in November.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Battle Over The Budget: Behind The Scenes At The White House]

This is why they're trying to squeeze something -- anything -- into the debt ceiling package that will provide near-term stimulus, to improve the jobs situation or at least counteract the austerity measures. Unfortunately, Republicans have foreclosed on the highest-impact ideas economists have recommended -- aid to states, infrastructure investment, and other direct spending projects.

So they've settled on a fourth- or fifth-best option: a plan to provide employees deeper, temporary relief from the payroll tax, and extend that relief to employers as well. It's not the most stimulative thing in the world -- but it is a tax cut for business owners, so at the very least it should have some buy-in on the right, no?

You might think so, but you'd be wrong.

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Today is a big day in Wisconsin, which has been rocked by protests, legislative boycotts, ongoing recall elections, litigation and some associated chicanery, and possibly even a physical altercation at the state Supreme Court, centered around Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation. After all of that...the law is now finally set to kick into effect.

Two weeks ago, when the state Supreme Court upheld the law by a 4-3 margin, against a lawsuit challenging a procedure used to pass it, it then fell to Secretary of State Doug La Follette, a Democrat, to formally publish the act in the Wisconsin State Journal, which acts as the state's official newspaper for the purpose of giving the public official notice of new laws. This is normally to take place 10 business days after passage -- though Republicans insisted it should happen immediately, after it was bottled up for three months in litigation. But instead, La Follette declared a new 10-day period, and the act is taking effect today.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is a firebreather. It's a significant part of her charm. But as polls show her to be a serious candidate in the Iowa caucuses -- and, therefore, the race for the nomination -- Bachmann's been up on TV rounding off some of her sharper edges.

No longer is President Obama "un-American," as Bachmann said in 2008. Nor is eliminating the minimum wage the top priority it was back in 2005. As she steps into the national spotlight -- with the help of big-time campaign strategist Ed Rollins -- Bachmann is presenting a kinder, gentler face.

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Republicans may be suffering politically for voting to phase out Medicare. But they moved the needle on the policy debate way to the right, and, as such, cutting Medicare now is basically a fait accompli.

The latest plan comes from Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). This is an interesting political coalition for a few reasons. Recall that Coburn left the Gang-of-Six Senate debt talks for proposing dramatic cuts to Medicare, and has now found comfort in the arms of liberals' darkest bete noire.

What they propose doesn't seek to replace Medicare with a private insurance scheme as does the GOP budget. Nonetheless it has already been rejected by the top Democrats on Capitol Hill -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

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Pretend you're angry that someone improperly leaked some details of a military survey that showed the vast majority of service members wouldn't care all that much about serving alongside gay troops. Say that disclosure was perfectly timed to jolt congressional support for repeal of the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

How do you get back? By leaking the Defense Department Inspector General's report on the leak of that survey to an anti-gay group that fought against the repeal of the 'Don't Ask' policy, of course!

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Michele Bachmann might be a proud "American Girl" -- but she can't blast it over the P.A. systems anymore.

Rolling Stone has confirmed reports that after Bachmann's campaign played Tom Petty's song "American Girl" at her campaign announcement rally in Waterloo, Iowa, Petty's management sent her a cease-and-desist letter for her unauthorized use of his music.

For a presidential candidate who warns that President Obama is allegedly destroying the private-sector economy, this treatment of other people's intellectual property might not be the best way to start off the campaign.

This is not Tom Petty's first run-in with Republican politicians purloining his music. Back in 2000, the George W. Bush campaign played his song, "I Won't Back Down" -- and were quickly told to, well, back down. At the request of Petty's management, the song's official publisher told the Bush camp to stop, saying that the use of the song "creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that ... [the Bush] campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true."

Seeking to breathe new life into its prospects, on Tuesday Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired the first-ever Senate hearing on the DREAM Act. The bill, which was initially proposed in different form in 2001, would grant citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants who "have maintained good moral character since entering the U.S.," and who either attend college or serve in the U.S. armed forces.

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