TPM News

One would-be Republican presidential contender isn't afraid to sign up with Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) plans to end Medicare and Medicaid as we now know them.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a longshot for his party's nomination next year, isn't afraid to jump on the political third rail that is care for the elderly. In a statement Tuesday, he singled out Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare and Medicaid as among the best parts of Ryan's massive budget proposal.

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President Obama issued a sternly worded order for Ivory Coast's besieged former President Laurent Gbabgo to relinquish his claim to office and end the violence in the West African country amid reports that he and his top generals are negotiating a surrender.

"To end the violence and prevent more bloodshed, former President Gbabgo must stand down immediately, and direct those who are fighting on his behalf to lay down their arms," Obama said in a statement Tuesday morning. "Every day that the fighting persists will bring more suffering, and further delay the future peace and prosperity that the people of Cote D'Ivoire deserve."

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[Correction: This post was based on a misreading or the GOP budget, and on Republican claims that the budget would save money by repealing the the health care law. The budget itself doesn't claim that repealing the health care law will reduce the deficit as we reported. It claims repeal will reduce spending outlays, and at times characterizes those reductions as "savings". That's true so far as it goes. But the budget does not grapple with the fact that repealing the law's taxes and other savings would more than make up for the spending reductions, resulting in a deficit increase. We regret the error.]

The budget plan unveiled by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Tuesday does a neat trick: It claims that repealing the health care reform law will actually reduce the federal budget deficit -- despite extensive analyses by the Congressional Budget Office that show exactly the opposite.

The CBO -- which is the gold standard for budget analysis and number crunching on Capitol Hill -- has issued a series of reports which conclude that the health care law will reduce the deficit and, by corollary, that repealing the health care law will cause the deficit to go back up.

This is a problem for Republicans, who dismiss CBO findings out of hand. Indeed, the budget they unveiled Tuesday morning relies on unofficial numbers to create the impression that repealing the health care law will reduce the deficit.

According to the GOP budget, repealing the health care law will reduce the deficit by $1.4 trillion by 2022. CBO, by contrast, holds that repealing the health law now will add well over $200 billion to the deficit over the same time frame.

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The White House Office of Management and Budget said Monday that it "strongly opposes" efforts by the House of Representatives to invalidate net neutrality rules, and threatened to veto any bill that would do so.

"If the President is presented with a Resolution of Disapproval that would not safeguard the free and open Internet, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the Resolution," the OMB said in a statement.

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The most official of the almost-official frontrunners for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has nothing but praise for the idea of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget proposal.

In a statement, Pawlenty says, "Thanks to Paul Ryan in Congress, the American people finally have someone offering real leadership in Washington."

But Pawlenty had little to say about the substance of the plan, which he said "is going to be debated for several months to come."

Instead of kicking off that debate, Pawlenty returned to his repeated call for Republicans not to allow an increase in the national debt ceiling.

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Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who is facing a highly contentious re-election fight in Wisconsin, appeared Monday night on Fox News, for an interview with Wisconsin native Greta Van Susteren. The vote is taking place today.

As TPM has noted, a state Supreme Court election would not normally be national news. But in the wake of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's legislation curtailing public employee unions, and the political protests that gripped the state and attracted national attention, the court race has quickly turned into a proxy political battle. Conservatives are supporting Prosser, and liberals backing Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. The polls close at 8 p.m. CT tonight.

Van Susteren asked Prosser about a negative campaign ad from a liberal group, the Greater Wisconsin Committee, attacking Prosser's handling of a priest sex abuse case in the late 1970s, when he was a district attorney, in which the priest was not prosecuted. The priest was transferred to another community, and later convicted in 2004 on these original charges. One of the victims has strongly criticized the attack ad against Prosser, not wanting his case to be used in the state's current political battles.

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Maine Gov. Paul LePage's union busting chops are coming into conflict with his disdain for wasteful spending as the federal government is demanding $60,000 back that it contributed to sponsor a mural he has since removed from the state's Department of Labor building.

LePage, a Republican, took down the mural, which depicted labor history in the state, in response to alleged complaints that it offended the business community. The move drew protests and LePage's combative response drew an additional public rebuke from eight GOP state senators in a widely published op-ed.

But now the federal Department of Labor, which financed the mural with a $60,000 grant, are getting in on the action, writing in a letter that the state will forfeit its money if it fails to use the mural for its intended purpose.

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Last week when news of their Freedom Of Information Act requests aimed at labor studies professors from state-run universities in Michigan broke, the conservative-leaning Mackinac Center For Public Policy think tank declined to talk about them. But on Monday night, in a long post on the center's own website, the Mackinac staffer behind the FOIA requests offered a long explanation of why the center wants to know what Michigan labor studies professors were hearing and saying about Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

The short version: Mackinac's been at war with labor studies departments for years, and the fight in Wisconsin opened up a new front.

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On Monday night, Stephen Colbert warned his audience that the end was near -- the end of Glenn Beck's program.

"Folks, it's the day we all feared would come," Colbert said. "The GlennPocalypse."

Rumors have circulated recently that Fox News may not renew Beck's contract, as his show has shed viewers and advertisers, and, according to one report, led Fox's reporters to complain in private that Beck was tarnishing their credibiity.

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