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Democrats are being maddeningly tight-lipped about a leadership meeting with President Obama at the White House Wednesday afternoon. But a couple of key tells, and conversations with sources, suggest they believe -- or want reporters to believe -- that a "Grand Bargain" on deficit reduction and raising the debt limit, crafted by the White House and congressional negotiators, is still possible in the next couple weeks.

First, in remarks that have largely been walked back, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama would consider a temporary extension of his borrowing authority. The caveat: this is only true if a deal's been cut, the votes are there, but the legislative process (bill writing, budget scoring, voting) would drag us past August 2.

Second, a House Dem aide offered the following readout of the White House meeting. "House Democrats continue to support the President's "grand bargain" proposal that will not balance the budget on the backs of seniors through cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries."

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Following Rep. Allen West's (R-FL) Tuesday email to DNC chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in which he attacked her as "vile, despicable, and unprofessional," and "not a Lady," West claimed he apologized. However, now both Wasserman Schultz and West's own spokesperson are saying he didn't.

Roll Call reported the apology earlier in the day, however, DNC aide Brad Woodhouse responded by calling the claim "a complete falsehood." Wasserman Schultz also told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that she in fact did not receive an apology.

Then, to complicate this escalating 'he said/ she said' fiasco, Angela Sachitano, a spokesperson for West also came out claiming the apology is "absolutely false." She said that actually, West is waiting for an apology from Wasserman Schultz. Indeed, the signs are that West is actually using the incident for fundraising purposes.

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The ex co-owner of a car dealership formerly owned by Rep. Vern Buchanan accused the Florida Republican in federal court of a scheme to break election laws and making threats against his co-conspirators in an attempt to cover it up.

Sam Kazran said he has a voicemail from Buchanan in which the congressman warned of "consequences should [Kazran] chose to disclose his knowledge" and tried to get him to sign an affidavit that cleared Buchanan of any wrongdoing.

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In 2005, Catherine Cook and her brother David had an idea for a startup. The high schoolers flipped through a yearbook and wanted to make a digital version.
The 15-and-16-year-olds got to work and created MyYearbook. In the 6-year span, the duo raised $17 million in financing, grew the site to 70 million users, and generated 1.2 billion monthly pageviews.

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Watchdogs are busy extolling the Ethics Committee decision earlier Wednesday to hire an outside counsel to investigate the case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), as well as allegations that its own staff and members engaged in a pattern of prosecutorial abuse.

But a review of the special prosecutor's contract, obtained by TPM, raises new conflict-of-interest questions for the beleaguered ethics panel.

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Looking to put to rest questions surrounding her health following reports that she suffers from chronic migraines, Michele Bachmann released a note from her physician on Wednesday detailing her condition.

According to the letter by Dr. Brian P. Monahan, Bachmann is "overall in good general health" and "able to control" her migraines with medication. Earlier today, rival candidate Tim Pawlenty suggested that Bachmann's condition may be too serious for her to handle presidential duties.

From the letter:

Dear Congresswoman Bachmann:

The enclosed summary regarding your experience of migraine headaches is provide to you as per your request. You are overall in good general health.

You have a well-established diagnosis of migraine headaches with aura for which you have had an extensive evaluation by both my office and by a board certified consulting neurologist. Your evaluation has entailed detailed labwork and brain scans all of which were normal. Your migraines occur infrequently and have known trigger factors of which you are aware and know how to avoid. When you do have a migraine, you are able to control it with as-needed sumatriptan and odansetron. It has not been necessary for you to take daily scheduled medications to manage this condition. You have not needed medical attention from me regarding your migraines with the use of the above mentioned commonly used therapies.

Sincerely, Brian P. Monahan, MD, MACP
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A copy of the letter can be found here.



Apple stopped loving the MacBook a long time ago. It was obvious to everyone, perhaps, but the MacBook. And now Apple's decided to stop even pretending. The plastic MacBook is gone.
MacBook, we salute you.

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Democratic officials are crowing over a string of recent polls showing public opinion rapidly shifting towards support for a debt ceiling increase.

In a memo obtained by TPM, DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse, wrote that he sees growing support for President Obama's proposal to include both spending cuts and increased tax revenue in a final deal. In addition, Americans give Republicans low marks for their intransigence on the issue.

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As time goes on, and conservative interest groups and members of Congress rip into it, support among Republicans for the Gang of Six plan to reduce deficits will begin to wane. In fact, that's already happening.

In a publicly released memo meant to undermine support for the Gang of Six plan in its current form, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) laments, "it increases revenues while failing to seriously address exploding federal spending on health care, which is the primary driver of our debt. There are also serious concerns that the proposal's substance on spending falls far short of what is needed to achieve the savings it claims."

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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka doesn't share President Obama's enthusiasm for the so-called balanced approach to deficit reduction set forth in the much ballyhooed bipartisan 'Gang of Six' proposal. In fact, he's dead-set against it.

Despite all the talk of tough choices and shared sacrifice and taking on sacred cows during difficult economic times, Trumka says the Gang of Six proposal appears to balance the budget on the backs of middle-class workers and the poor.

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