TPM News

GOP's Big Medicare Gamble The Hill reports: "Republicans on Capitol Hill may be in the process of learning a hard lesson: Meddling with Medicare, whatever the nation's fiscal circumstances, just isn't popular. They are feeling the heat now because of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) controversial plan to turn Medicare into a type of voucher system. Presented as a serious attempt to fix the program's projected shortfalls, the proposal instead appears to have turned the political tide back toward the congressional Democrats, who were on the ropes after last November's midterms."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will depart from the White House at 8:45 a.m. ET, and depart from Andrews Air Force Base at 9 a.m. ET, arriving at 11 a.m. ET in Memphis, Tennessee. At 11:30 a.m. ET, he will meet with families impacted by the flooding, state and local officials, first responders and volunteers. At 1 p.m. ET, he will deliver the commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School, the winner of the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. He will depart from Memphis at 3:25 p.m. ET, arriving at Andrews Air Force Base at 5:15 p.m. ET, and arriving back at the White House at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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Is Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) smarter than a 10th grader? One high school sophomore wants to find out, throwing down the gauntlet and challenging the congresswoman to a debate and test on the U.S. Constitution.

In a letter to Bachmann, New Jersey high schooler Amy Myers wrote that she was troubled by Bachmann's, "factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted," facts about the United States. As a result, Myers wrote, she hoped to test her own knowledge against Bachmann's, to see who really knew more about the Constitution and the country.

"Rep. Bachmann, the frequent inability you have shown to accurately and factually present even the most basic information about the United States led me to submit the following challenge, pitting my public education against your advanced legal education," Myers wrote.

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As TPM has reported, a number of Confederate groups across the country have been pushing proposals for commemorative confederate license plates. John Adams, First Lt. Commander of Florida's Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter, wants his state to be next.

Adams told TPM the SCV has been pursuing a Confederate license plate since 2004, in hopes of selling them to raise money for the organization.

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Beset by a constant barrage of attacks from the left and increasing unease on the right, House Republican leaders plan to relaunch their proposal to turn Medicare into a privatized voucher program. Leading the charge will be the GOP budget's architect, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is scheduled to deliver an address on the topic at the Economic Club of Chicago on Monday.

House Republicans have yet to find their voice on health care ever since passing their budget last month and the new push by leadership comes amid confusion over whether their leaders have abandoned their original plan entirely. Ryan will have to choose his message carefully in order to reassure the conservative base that the GOP's appetite for cuts is undiminished while reassuring moderate Republicans in swing districts that the issue won't wreck their re-election prospects.

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Nikki Haley: 'We Do Not Want A Massachusetts Health Care Plan In South Carolina' Appearing on This Week, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) said that Mitt Romney would continue to have to deal with the issue of health care reform. "I will tell you we do not want a Massachusetts health care plan in South Carolina. I think that he will have to continue to deal with that issue. I think he's going to have to talk about how that was not good for the country. That wouldn't be a good thing that we'd want to mandate on all of our states. And I think he'll have to respond to what his thought process was. But I think that we are looking for a leader that's willing to, one, make courageous stands, take strong policy decisions, but two, also admit when a mistake was made."

Boehner: 'Medicare, Medicaid - Everything Should Be On The Table, Except Raising Taxes' Appearing on Face The Nation, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reiterated his objection to any tax increases in order to deal with the deficit, which President Obama has said would have to be part of a solution. "The people he's talking about taxing are the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy and to create jobs," said Boehner. He also added: "Medicare, Medicaid - everything should be on the table, except raising taxes."

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Newt Gingrich slammed the House GOP budget on Meet The Press this morning, telling interviewer David Gregory that replacing Medicare with a voucher system was too "radical" an approach. His words were by far the harshest of any major presidential candidate towards Paul Ryan's proposal on entitlements.

"I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," Gingrich said, calling the plan "too big a jump" for the country. "I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate."

Gingrich has distanced himself from the Ryan plan in recent weeks, calling instead for a system that would preserve the current Medicare program alongside a voluntary, privatized version. But nothing he has said came close to the full frontal assault he unleashed on his own party's top priority in Congress.

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Mike Huckabee formally bowed out of the presidential running on Saturday, announcing on his FOX News show that he had decided not to enter the race even as he believed he was a top-tier contender.

"All the factors say go," he said, "but my heart says no."

The former Arkansas governor said that he had concluded that he could raise the necessary funds and build the necessary campaign infrastructure to win the nomination, but that he felt an "inner peace" in contemplating his final decision, which he said was borne out of prayer and meditation.

"I don't expect everyone to understand this, but I'm a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ and that relationship is far more important to me than any political office," he said. "For me the discussion and decision is ultimately not a political one ... it's a spiritual one."

In a bizarre twist, Huckabee's announcement was immediately followed by a surprise appearance from Donald Trump, who praised the decision with a wink towards his own presidential ambitions.

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Mike Huckabee, who is expected to announce whether or not he will run for president on his FOX News program tonight, hinted at a possible run in an e-mail to his closest confidantes.

Although Huckabee did not tip his hand as to his final decision, an email obtained by Time's Mark Halperin asked his friends: "Please be patient if I don't respond immediately to an email because I expect that once I pull the trigger Saturday night, things will get even crazier, as if that's possible."

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Obama Announces Plans For Increased Oil Production In this weekend's Presidential YouTube address, President Obama announced that his administration was opening up increased oil drilling, as part of an effort to deal with high gas prices.

"Last year, America's oil production reached its highest level since 2003. But I believe that we should expand oil production in America - even as we increase safety and environmental standards," said Obama. "To do this, I am directing the Department of Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, while respecting sensitive areas, and to speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid and south Atlantic. We plan to lease new areas in the Gulf of Mexico as well, and work to create new incentives for industry to develop their unused leases both on and offshore."

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Shirley Sherrod is back at the United States Department of Agriculture, almost a year after she was forced out by a misleading video spread by conservatives falsely accusing her of discriminating against white farmers.

Sherrod will not take her old position, reports Politico, instead rejoining the agency to work on civil rights. In her new job, she'll lead a program designed to improve relations with minority farmers.

In a video circulated by Andrew Breitbart last year, Sherrod was shown discussing how she was reluctant to offer help to white farmers. She was subsequently fired. But her dismissal turned into a fiasco for the agency when it was revealed that the video misportrayed her speech, which actually told of how she learned not to discriminate and, in fact, had since befriended the farmers in question. She is currently suing Breitbart over the incident.