TPM News

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's office is putting the kibosh on a report that he was supporting former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the state's key early presidential caucus -- saying that he is remaining totally neutral instead.

In a column today, David Broder mentioned as a side point:

An exceptionally skilled politician, Branstad is generally counted in the Pawlenty camp. His support is the main reason Pawlenty is given a chance in the leadoff caucuses - even against Huckabee, the surprise 2008 winner in Iowa; Romney, who has invested heavily in organizing the state; and perhaps others, including Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.


Branstad's people moved quickly to refute the story, with a pair of tweets on his account.

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The Internal Revenue Service took a bold step for a government agency and released a smartphone application. Titled IRS2Go, the app lets users check their tax return status. But IRS2Go's relatively limited functionality signals a future challenge for federal agencies releasing iPhone/Android applications: how do you give people the functionality they want while still complying with a variety of outdated rules that govern agencies' interactions with the public.

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The Internal Revenue Service took a bold step for a government agency and released a smartphone application. Titled IRS2Go, the app lets users check their tax return status. But IRS2Go's relatively limited functionality signals a future challenge for federal agencies releasing iPhone/Android applications: how do you give people the functionality they want while still complying with a variety of outdated rules that govern agencies' interactions with the public.

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Pro-choice activists and politicians may have scored a victory with the news that the House abortion bill won't contain a redefinition of rape, but that hasn't made several prominent House Democrats any happier about the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

"Look, my reaction is this is not really changing things that much," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) told TPM in an interview today. "This exposed them for what their true intentions are. Now that they're exposed they're trying to put the genie back in the bottle, and it's not going to work."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wasn't interested in giving the sponsors of H.R.3 much credit for altering their bill under pressure from pro-choice groups.

"It's still a totally flawed bill," Maloney told TPM. "I would call it the deepest attack on a woman's right to choose in my lifetime."

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The federal government could have prevented the massacre at Fort Hood allegedly perpetrated by Nadal Hasan if it had recognized signals of his radicalization prior to the attack, a special report issued by members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs concluded.

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On Thursday, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced new limits on spending to fund the government through the end of September. The proposal itself falls a bit short of the GOP pledge to slash spending by $100 billion, on a prorated basis, this fiscal year. But already Senate Democrats are warning Republicans that they'd better willing to negotiate toward the center, or they'll risk a government shutdown.

Indeed, top Democrats addressed reporters about the GOP proposal Thursday afternoon. They criticized the GOP's approach, and its leadership, for not taking a government shutdown off the table. They even brought Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) old economic adviser -- and Moody's chief economist -- Mark Zandi to the podium to buttress their case: a government shutdown would harm the economy, spending should not be cut dramatically right now, and the standoff should be resolved quickly.

"The chairman of the [House] Budget Committee today -- today -- sent us something more draconian than we originally anticipated," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said. He called Ryan's plan "unworkable."

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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is expressing concern about the movements of radical Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr in and out of Iran and Iraq ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq later this year.

"I'm very concerned about Sadr's activity -- and his followers...I'll be pretty blunt," McCain said Thursday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

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In 2008, John McCain took perennial red state South Carolina by a nine point margin over Barack Obama in the presidential election. Looking forward to 2012 though, Obama seems poised to make that race a little tighter -- or to win it outright if Republicans nominate a particularly polarizing candidate like Sarah Palin, according to a new PPP poll.

In the poll, Obama trailed Mike Huckabee by a six point margin, 49% to 43%. He also lagged seven pints behind Mitt Romney, 49% to 42%. While neither result is really close enough to make the race a toss up, they do show the contest being slightly more competitive next year.

However, if the GOP nominates Palin or Gingrich -- or even tea partying native son Sen. Jim DeMint -- the race is a wholly different story.

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