TPM News

President Obama knows all too well what it's like to feel the wrath of rankling his base by embracing compromise with Republicans on one of their ideological positions. That's why he didn't hesitate when House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) appeared to open the door -- just a crack -- to the idea of ending payments to oil companies in an interview with ABC News released Monday afternoon.

Boehner's office spent all day dialing back the bosses' comments.

"We have pointed out for years that raising costs for energy producers will raise costs for consumers," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told TPM. "And we want to 'take a look' at anything that lowers gas prices - but the President's proposal won't do that."

But the damage was already done and the rest of the GOP leadership team was forced to quickly putty over any cracks appearing on the surface -- real or perceived -- while Obama did his best to exploit any divisions.

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The former director of the Congressional Budget Office, and chief economic policy adviser to John McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign, says Congress has to raise the debt limit, and soon.

"I think that ultimately Congress has to raise the debt limit," Doug Holtz-Eakin told me after moderating an event on Capitol Hill. "We have to be good stewards of the nation's credit rating [and] doing it sooner is better than later."

In an escalation of legislative brinksmanship over raising the debt limit, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Politico Monday that he might not hold a vote on it at all, if he can't get buy-in from Democrats on serious spending cuts.

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Another top Republican has admitted what few members of his own party will admit. In fact, it's the toppest-Republican.

According to Speaker John Boehner, the House Republican budget, which passed on April 15, "transforms Medicare into a plan that's very similar to the President's own healthcare bill."

That's from an interview with ABC's Jon Karl. Boehner joins Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) as one of the few high-profile elected Republicans who will admit that the GOP's Medicare privatization plan is similar in many key respects to the health care law they have spent the last two years demonizing.

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President Obama didn't wait to take advantage of what looked to be a new Republican position on federal oil and gas subsidies. In a letter sent to Congressional leaders on Tuesday, Obama welcomed House Speaker John Boehner's apparent newfound appreciation for the call to end taxpayer payments to oil companies, expressed in an interview with ABC News on Monday night.

"I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminating these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry," Obama wrote. "Our political system has for too long avoided and ignored this important step, and I hope we can come together in a bipartisan manner to get it done."

Not so fast, Boehner's office said.

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While many observers were skeptical of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's ability to capture the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, his decision not to run frees up an elite group of donors and operatives to find new homes and could leave a crucial bloc of voters up for grabs.

Barbour's campaign was considered a magnet for top quality staff and the remaining candidates will undoubtedly be reaching out to stranded politicos. Some already have ties to 2012 contenders while Barbours' close relationship with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) has led to speculation that an outsize number will join Daniels' campaign -- if he decides to run.

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Right-wing "news" site World Net Daily is happy to inform its readers that former Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin will be released from military prison in three weeks, and they too can be a part of the celebration by attending the "Terry Lakin Homecoming Event."

Lakin was dismissed from the Army and sent to a military prison for six months after a court martial found him guilty of refusing orders to deploy to Afghanistan. He refused on the grounds that he believes President Obama may not be eligible to be Commander-In-Chief because of questions about his birthplace.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is dismissing the birther phenomenon within his party's base -- a further sign that the Republican establishment is trying to put some distance between itself and the conspiracy theories still popular on the Tea Party right.

"Trump and the candidates can talk about it all they want, but my position is that the president was born in the United States," Priebus told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, CNN reports.

"I don't think it's an issue that moves voters," Priebus added. "It's an issue in my opinion that I don't personally get too excited about, because I think the more important question is what's going on in this country in regards to jobs, to debt, and the deficit and spending. Those are the things that people are worried about. People aren't worried about these other issues."

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has stepped up his pressure on Apple CEO Steve Jobs, announcing on Monday that he will hold hearings on the recent revelation that Apple iPhones and iPads are secretly tracking and storing their users' locations.

"The same technology that has given us smartphones, tablets, and cell phones has also allowed these devices to gather extremely sensitive information about users, including detailed records of their daily movements and location," Franken, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, said in a statement posted on his website.

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Wisconsin Democrats are ready to file recall signatures against yet another Republican state Senator, in the battle over Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union bill, with petitions targeting state Sen. Rob Cowles.

The Appleton Post Crescent reports:

The Committee to Recall Cowles has enough signatures to initiate the next phase of the process and will file them with the Government Accountability Board on Thursday, Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said Monday.

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