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One of the nation's leading economists, and President Obama's former top economic adviser, says that Washington's focus on immediate austerity is misplaced, and that efforts to rein in deficits should wait until after one more round of stimulus.

"Fiscal support should be continued and indeed expanded by providing the payroll tax cut to employers as well as employees," writes Larry Summers in a new op-ed. "Raising the share of the payroll tax cut from 2 percent to 3 percent would be desirable as well. At a near-term cost of a little over $200 billion, these measures offer the prospect of significant improvement in economic performance over the next few years translating into significant increases in the tax base and reductions in necessary government outlays."

In the tax cut deal the White House and Congress negotiated last year, President Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years, in exchange for a one-year extension of unemployment benefits and a substantial, year-long payroll tax cut for employees.

Summers says that the cut should be extended and deepened into 2012, and should also be offered to employers, who also pay taxes for workers they employ.

Fox News' Chris Wallace stepped up the skepticism of Tim Pawlenty's wildly optimistic economic plan on Sunday, asking the former governor how he would achieve his goals, and whether his proposed deep tax cuts would, "blow a hole in the national deficit."

In a nearly half hour interview, Wallace repeatedly pressed Pawlenty to explain how he would accomplish the unprecedented decade of 5% annual growth he claims his policies would spark. At each turn, Pawlenty remained vague on the details of how exactly he'd do that, instead deferring to broad criticisms of President Obama.

"Well, this is an aspiration," Pawlenty said when asked when in history the economy had ever grown so robustly. "It's a big goal, and it's a stretch goal."

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Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) ongoing scandal has finally drawn the White House into the fray, with President Obama's press secretary Jay Carney decrying the lawmaker's "dishonesty" on Monday.

The presidential spokesman told reporters on Air Force One that Weiner's antics had become a "distraction from important business."

"The President feels, we feel at the White House, this is a distraction," Carney said. "As Congressman Weiner has said himself, his behavior was inappropriate, dishonesty was inappropriate. But the President is focused on his job which is getting this economy continuing to grow, creating jobs and ensuring the safety and security of the American people."

An array of top Democratic officials called for Weiner's resignation in recent days, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), and DCCC chair Steve Israel (D-NY). Carney declined to offer a response either way on the question of whether the embattled lawmaker should step down in light of the ongoing sexting scandal.

"I answered that question," he said in response to a query on what Weiner should do. "We think it's a distraction from the important business that this President needs to conduct and Congress needs to conduct. Beyond that I don't have any comment."

Weiner announced over the weekend that he will seek professional treatment while taking a leave of absence from the House. But the White House's biting comments on his "dishonesty" and "inappropriate" behavior is a clear sign that they're growing concerned about his impact on the party's image and messaging.

A California diver is taking the hunt for Osama bin Laden, now deceased, to new depths.

Bill Warren plans to embark on a diving trip to recover bin Laden's body himself, the New York Post reports.

"I'm doing it because I am a patriot American who wants to know the truth," Warren told the Post. "I do it for the world."

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Newt Gingrich reassured Republican voters that his presidential campaign was still ticking despite the loss of nearly its entire senior staff in a coordinated mass resignation last week.

"I will carry the message of American renewal to every part of this great land," Gingrich said in a speech on Sunday to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Beverly Hills. "And with the help of every American who wants to change Washington, we will prevail."

Gingrich's speech was his first public appearance in weeks after taking off on a European cruise with wife Callista. His campaign, already in grave condition after Gingrich labeled Paul Ryan's Medicare plan "right wing social engineering" on Meet The Press, suffered another blow during his absence when 16 aides quit at once in protest over Newt's strategy.

Gingrich alluded to their departure in his speech, according to Politico. "I know full well the rigors of campaigning for public office," he said. "in fact, I've had some recent reminders."

Asked by reporters afterwards whether his campaign was still viable, he replied "Go ask the voters."

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), who was defeated for re-election in the 2010 Republican wave after three terms, has now begun to re-emerge into the public eye -- taking part in the protests against Republican Gov. Scott Walker that have been going on pretty much non-stop for the last few months at the state Capitol.

Earlier this month, the protests took their newest form with a tent city around the Capitol, dubbed "Walkerville" as a word-play on how shantytowns became known during the Great Depression as "Hoovervilles." As the Wisconsin State Journal reports, Feingold spoke on Sunday at a Walkerville event:

"Why are we in a place called Walkerville today?" he asked the energized crowd at the corner of State and West Mifflin streets, amid the tent village that sprang up earlier this month to protest the state budget bill and will remain through June 20 while lawmakers debate the bill.

"Because we will not stop until we win."

Feingold, who lost his seat in November to Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson, outlined necessary actions for the near future: taking back the majority in the state Senate and Assembly, and -- drawing big applause -- defeating Gov. Scott Walker, who he called a tool of the Republican party.

During the speech, chants of "run, Russ, run," could be heard, but Feingold didn't mention his own political future.

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One former White House press secretary versus seven Republican presidential candidates? Robert GIbbs will take those odds.

President Obama's ex-spokesman is expected to hit the local and national airwaves tonight in New Hampshire after the Republican debate, the first to feature frontrunner Mitt Romney, freefalling Newt Gingrich, and Tea Party rabble-rouser Michele Bachmann. According to the Associated Press, his mission will be to defend the President from the inevitable spate of high-profile attacks from the 2012 field, getting in the White House's point of view on issues like the economy, health care, and Libya.

The appearance fits a broader reported strategy of maintaining a high profile and strong grassroots operation in early primary and caucus states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, in order to prevent the GOP from scoring an organizational advantage over the course of the long nominating process and to make sure the GOP attacks on Obama are consistently rebutted.

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