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Forty-eight Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on Thursday, urging him to stick with the conclusion that the GOP's plan to privatize Medicare is a non-starter with Democrats.

"Your conclusion was correct that House Republicans "need to look elsewhere" after President Obama "excoriated" the proposal you and your Republican colleagues adopted to privatize Medicare through a voucher system," the letter reads.

Americans don't want to destroy Medicare in order to give even more tax cuts to millionaires.

While I am sure you are under pressure from your caucus to defend that misguided vote rather than to move away from it, I urge you to maintain the position you took yesterday as reported by The Washington Post. The two parties can and must work together to reduce the deficit, but not if Republicans maintain their demand to end Medicare as we know it. If you need further proof that the House Republican plan is a non-starter, I urge you to review the enclosed letter.

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This Memorial Day weekend, the starting grid of the 100th Indianapolis 500 will be missing one star driver: Donald Trump, who walked away from his gig as honorary pace car driver following withering criticism of his planned participation.

The Indianapolis Star reports that Trump has abandoned his scheduled appearance in the Chevy Camaro that will pace the race on May 29.

Anti-Trump activists on Facebook and a group of Baptist ministers in Indianapolis had been hounding race organizers as Trump's stature as birther and then Obama college record questioner-in-chief rose.

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) obliquely conceded that the House GOP plan to overhaul Medicare is off the table, but he said blamed President Obama and Democrats, and accused them of having no plan of their own to offer in its place.

Speaking with reporters as Republicans across the Capitol were backing away from the plan to blow up Medicare and replace it with a voucher system, Cantor denied saying he was taking the plan off the table.

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In a peculiar epilogue to TPM's coverage of the Canadian election this week -- in which Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative Party won his first outright majority of seats, and the left-wing New Democratic Party overtook the more moderate Liberal Party to become the main left-leaning party for the first time ever -- the NDP has gotten off to a rough start as an opposition party, in its handling of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The party's Deputy Leader, Thomas Mulcair, publicly expressed doubt that photos of bin Laden's body actually exist, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports. "I don't think, from what I've heard, that those pictures exist and if they do I'll leave that up to the American military," Mulcair said in an interview. "If they've got pictures of a cadaver then there's probably more going on than we suspect in what happened there."

As the CBC's report points out, Mulcair also questioned the legality of the killing:

Mulcair also said the killing requires "a full analysis" on whether it was self-defence or a direct killing because "that has to do with American law and international law as well."

"I think that if the Americans have taken pictures in that circumstance, it won't be able to prove very much as to whether Mr. [bin Laden] was holding a weapon," he said.


The NDP quickly distanced itself from Mulcair's comments, with the party's parliamentary Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar -- the person who would become Foreign Minister if the party were to win an election -- releasing a statement. "We have no reason to doubt the veracity of President Obama's statement," said Dewar. "As (NDP leader) Jack Layton said the other day, we are happy the U.S. tracked down Osama bin Laden."

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Two more Republican Senators are backing away from Rep. Paul Ryan's budget and its plan to cut and privatize Medicare, suggesting on Thursday that they may propose their own alternatives.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told TPM that while he would vote for the House budget if it comes to the Senate floor to "move the ball down the field," his own preference on Medicare was a different proposal that would give seniors the option to remain in the traditional government plan.

"I think there are other proposals that deserve serious consideration and I'm waiting to see what those are and I might vote for those as well," he said. "Senator Domenici has a proposal for example, that would allow seniors to go into the marketplace and find a premium support plan much like the Ryan bill but still have the fallback of a traditional Medicare benefit. I like that idea better, frankly, than the House Budget."

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is the latest GOP leader to acknowledge that his party's plan to privatize Medicare -- which passed the House as part of the Republican budget -- will hit a wall in the White House and Senate.

Responding Thursday to the news that one of his most powerful chairmen, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) of the House Ways and Means Committee, will not push ahead with the Medicare plan, Boehner told reporters, "My interpretation of what Mr. Camp [said] was a recognition of the political realities that we face. While Republicans control the House, the Democrats control the Senate and they control the White House."

Boehner insisted the GOP hasn't abandoned the plan, and isn't prepared to take anything other than tax increases off the table. But with multiple top Republicans now acknowledging that budget negotiations will focus on other areas of potential agreement, it seems understood that the plan is basically dead.

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Following the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate -- a document skeptics claimed did not exist because Obama was supposedly born in a foreign country -- the percentage of Americans who doubt Obama's citizenship has plummeted, according to two new polls.

In a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Thursday, only 10% of Americans said Obama was born in a foreign country. That's exactly half the percent who said the same last year.

And even among those who doubted Obama's citizenship, far fewer are quite so confident in that stance now that Obama's birth certificate has been released. Last year, nine percent of respondents said there was "solid evidence" to prove that Obama was born elsewhere. That number dropped to just one percent in the latest poll.

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's spokesman Brad Dayspring says his office's principal objection to today's Washington Post article wasn't the claim that Republicans will be hard-pressed to win a fight over a dramatic reshaping of Medicare, but rather an early headline on the piece -- since corrected -- that stated "Medicare Dropped from GOP Budget Proposal."

Dayspring says Republicans are well aware that Democrats in the Senate and the White House aren't budging on that issue. "It seems unlikely that the President's going to come around," and embrace the GOP's Medicare plan, Dayspring told TPM Thursday.

Thus, bipartisan budget negotiations with the White House -- which begin today -- will be centered on other issues: spending cuts, taxes, other Medicare savings. And indeed, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) says he will not push the GOP Medicare plan through the committee process.

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Sandlin Matthews Smith, a 46 year-old Florida man who authorities suspect of planting a pipe bomb that exploded at a Jacksonville, FL mosque in 2010 was killed in a shootout with the FBI in Oklahoma on Wednesday.

According to the AP, authorities confronted Smith "in a field at Glass Mountain State Park" Wednesday after tracking him there late Tuesday.

When agents asked Smith to surrender, the shootout began. When it ended, he was dead and the bombing case appears to have ended with him.

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