TPM News

Last week, Congressional Democrats were blindsided by newly-confirmed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who basically nixed any further cuts to military spending, and demanded that lawmakers trim from programs like Medicare and raise taxes to reduce future deficits.

Soon a new deficit Super Committee will begin debating tax and entitlement reform, and the penalty if they gridlock includes steep defense cuts. Republicans are expected to seize on Panetta's remarks to push for another deficit deal that comes exclusively from entitlement cuts. So Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) called on President Obama to repudiate Panetta.

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The wait is almost over. After weeks of hints and rumors, Texas Governor Rick Perry will reportedly announce a presidential run in South Carolina on Saturday.

According to Politico, the speech at a RedState convention may not mark his formal entrance into the race but will make clear his intentions. He'll head to New Hampshire later the same day for a house party with State Rep. Pamela Tucker. Perry's backers are reportedly trying to secure an early wave of donations in anticipation of his announcement in order to quickly establish his credibility.

The timing of Perry's speech undercuts the Ames Straw Poll, a crucial event for many of the Republican candidates that will occur the same day. With Perry not participating, the results will likely hold less weight and may quickly be overshadowed by coverage of the Texas governor's debut.

President Obama in a somber address to the nation Monday sought to summon Americans' strength and perseverance as stocks continued in a 500-point free fall in the first trading day after Standard & Poor's rating service downgraded the nation's creditworthiness.

"Markets will always rise and fall," Obama told the nation. "No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a AAA country."

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Oh, Boy!

Rick Santorum is hoping to show Iowans a good time at the Ames Straw Poll: First with Santorum's homemade jelly -- and now, his campaign has announced, with musical entertainment from the late Buddy Holly's backup band the Crickets, plus the Big Bopper Jr.

Back in 1959, the 22-year old Buddy Holly and the 28-year old original Big Bopper, plus 17-year old Ritchie Valens, were killed in a plane crash -- in Iowa, during a Midwestern tour called the "Winter Dance Party."

As such, the name of the Santorum campaign event is the "Santorum Summer Dance Party."

"After three weeks of traveling across Iowa and meeting thousands of Iowans, we are excited to cap off our family trip with a day of fun in Ames," said Santorum in a press release. "We are all looking forward to eating, singing, and dancing along with the traditions that make summertime in Iowa the epitomizes the heart of the American experience."

Updated at 3 p.m. ET.

A new round of Daily Kos/Public Policy Polling (D) numbers for the Wisconsin recalls, conducted over the past weekend in four out of the six Republican-held seats on the ballot Tuesday, show these contests headed down to the wire. Democrats have a clear lead in one race, Republicans in another, and the other two in statistical dead heats.

However, there is a very important caveat to any polls of these races: There is simply no standard statistical model or frame of reference for these very unusual mass recalls. As such, no prediction is really safe, and election-watchers just have to wait until the votes are counted Tuesday night. Everything will ride on the parties' turnout operations.

In the 32nd district, Democratic challenger Jennifer Shilling leads GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke by 54%-43%, beyond the ±3.4% margin of error. Meanwhile in the 10 district, GOP state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf leads Democrat Shelly Moore by 54%-42%, outside the 2.7% margin of error.

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That $1 million donation routed through a mysterious corporation to a Super PAC devoted to electing Mitt Romney? No big deal, Romney told reporters in New Hampshire on Monday.

"I think he came out and discussed who he is," Romney said of the donor, who revealed himself to be former Bain Capital executive Ed Conard last week. He added that there's therefore "no controversy because he said, 'Hey, it's me, and I've given to Mitt many times before.'"

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In the weeks leading up to last week's debt limit deal, the ratings agency Standard & Poors warned that they would downgrade the country's AAA bond rating if the White House and Congressional leaders couldn't reach a fiscal consolidation plan of at least $4 trillion over 10 years.

The Congressional Budget Office scored the deal they ultimately reached at just over $2 trillion and S&P, perhaps feeling locked into its threat, made good on it.

The implication, to borrow from the Vice President, is that $2 trillion worth of deficit spending over ten years is a BFD.

But as Treasury Department officials, including Secretary Tim Geithner, have been angrily pointing out since Friday night, S&P's original analytical justification for the downgrade included a $2 trillion error, exaggerating U.S. deficits over the same 10 year window.

Geithner himself said, "[t]hey've shown a stunning lack of knowledge about basic U.S. fiscal budget math. And I think they drew exactly the wrong conclusion from this budget agreement."

Most reports have simply alluded to the error without explaining it. But here, according to Treasury officials, is what actually happened.

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the GOP's No. 1 Obama administration attack dog, has bitten down hard on the dispute between the National Labor Relations Board and Boeing and doesn't appear to be letting go anytime soon.

Issa issued a subpoena to the NLRB's Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon August 7 as part of its investigation into the merits of the NLRB action against the Boeing Company. The subpoena compels the NLRB to comply with earlier document requests submitted in May with a deadline of noon Aug. 12.

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Michele Bachmann spoke at a church service in Iowa on Sunday that featured a separate sermon about "immoral" gays as well as a video presentation promoting gay conversion therapy.

"We inherently know that homosexual behavior is immoral and unnatural," Pastor Jeff Mullen told churchgoers during a half-hour presentation, according to NBC. Afterward he played a recorded testimonial from a man who claimed to have been cured of his homosexual urges through the power of prayer and is now married with an expecting wife "I am so happy God has given me natural affection for a woman," he says in the video.

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President Obama has seen some hits to his national approval rating over the last few weeks as residue from the bruising debt debate, although Congress is even worse off since the almost-default. But new data from Gallup released on Monday shows a much more coherent and specific picture of Obama's job approval as he ramps up his 2012 election campaign, and how his approval rating looks when set against the modern electoral map.

The data, taken from Gallup's polling from January 2011 to June of this year, charts the president's rating in all 50 states, using interviews with more than 90,000 American adults. While his national approval rating for this time period in the Gallup tracking poll is below 50%, the map shows an improving picture after the GOP victories of 2010, and much of that improvement in swing states.

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