TPM News

Former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement, the lawyer House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) chose to support the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of Congress, will be paid $520 per hour in taxpayer money up to $500,000, according to a contract his law firm signed with the General Counsel of the House and the House Administration Committee.

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As Republicans and President Obama square off over the Defense of Marriage Act, a new CNN poll shows that a small majority of Americans now support legal recognition for same sex marriages.

In the poll, 51% of adult Americans said they thought same sex marriages should be recognized by law, while 47% said they should not. That's a significant reversal from the same poll two years ago when Americans opposed same sex marriage by a 10-point spread, with 44% in favor and 54% against.

It's the second time in as many months that a pollster has for the first time found majority support for legalizing same sex marriage. In March, a Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 53% of adults supported legalizing same sex marriage, while 44% opposed it.

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Donald Trump's birther bluster is continuing, with him declaring that he might release his tax returns -- but only if President Obama will release his "real" birth certificate.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Trump lamented how he would give up his private life if he were to run. "I have a great company. I've done a great job -- which if I run, you'll see what a great job, because I'll do a full disclosure, finances--"

"Including your tax returns?" asked Stephanopoulos.

"We'll look at that -- Maybe I'm gonna do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate," Trump responded.

He also added: "I'd love to give my tax returns. I may tie my tax returns into Obama's birth certificate."

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Nearly two-thirds of American adults say the country is headed in the wrong direction - the highest level of pessimism about the nation's direction recorded in a McClatchy-Marist poll since President Obama assumed office over two years ago.

Immediately after the midterm elections, Obama seemed to be turning a corner, as Americans had more rosy opinions of both him and the nation's direction. But in the past few months, that brief bump has been quickly reversed.

In the poll, 64% of respondents said the country was headed in the wrong direction, while just 30% said it was headed in the right direction. That's a stunning turnaround since January when 41% said the country was on the right track, and 47% said it was on the wrong track.

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A Philadelphia company called PrimeTel Communications has, over the past 13 years, acquired nearly a quarter of all 1-800 numbers in the U.S. and Canada, according to a report by the Associated Press. PrimeTel now controls 1.7 million 1-800 numbers, more than any other company, and, the AP says, many of those numbers redirect to a phone-sex service run by a company with close ties to PrimeTel.

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Following a Bush-era move to stack the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights with conservatives, the bipartisan balance of the commission has officially been restored. Democratic appointees on the commission are planning to drastically change the direction of the federal agency, which while under conservative control spent nearly a year and a half examining the Obama administration's handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.

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While some GOP presidential contenders ratchet up their anti-Muslim rhetoric to toxic levels, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniel (R) is set to accept a prestigious award next month from the Arab American Institute.

Maya Berry, executive director of AAI, told TPM that the award was incidental to his status as a possible presidential candidate and celebrates his broad record of public service and his Syrian heritage, which is not commonly known. Nonetheless, she noted that Daniels' award comes at a time of increasingly mainstream anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment in conservative circles.

"It's a moment to honor our own and Mitch Daniels goes back to the founding of the institute as one of our earliest supporters," she said. "We have a community that comes with some unfortunate political baggage in terms of's just nice when folks are proud of their ethnic background and don't allow that kind of politics of exclusion to get in the way."

Berry noted Daniel's emphasis on fixing the economy and the group's website praises his call for a "truce" on social issues, a quote that has invited heated attacks from religious conservatives.

"I think he's been the adult in the room," Berry said.

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Democrats say Republicans showed their true colors when they voted to blow up Medicare as we know it last week. Now, as members return home for the holiday recess, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is making sure people know about the vote, with a new ad campaign that targets 25 members across the country.

The TV ad imagines a future where Medicare recipients are left in the lurch once a proposed $15,000 annual health insurance voucher runs out. It shows seniors trying to make up the lost Medicare cash by mowing laws, selling lemonade and stripping at parties.

"How will you pay?" the spot asks.

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Nearly half of usual Republican primary voters in Iowa think President Obama was not born in the United States, while barely one-quarter believe he was, according to a PPP poll released on Tuesday.

In the poll, 48% of registered Republican voters said Obama was not born in the U.S., while 26% said he was. Additionally, 26% said they were unsure.

That percentage is actually slightly better than the national average for typical Republican primary voters, a majority of whom believe Obama was born outside the U.S. In February, a PPP poll found that 51% of registered Republican voters said Obama was not born in the U.S., compared to 28% who said he was, and 21% who were unsure.

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