TPM News

Add Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to the list of Republicans who plan to vote against the Paul Ryan budget when it comes up for a vote in the Senate this week.

"I am going to vote no on the budget because I have deep and abiding concerns about the approach on Medicare, which is essentially to privatize it," Snowe told The Portland Press Herald on Tuesday.

She added that the House GOP budget's proposal to block grant Medicaid and let states decide how to distribute the funds was also troubling.

"The states are the great laboratories," Snowe said. "But we also have an overall obligation to serve specific populations under Medicaid. We don't want to encourage a race to the bottom."

The Maine lawmakers joins Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Rand Paul (R-KY) who have all declared their "no" vote early. Snowe, Collins, and Brown have cited its impact on seniors' Medicare benefits as their chief disagreement while Paul wants its overall cuts to go even further. Collins and Paul have made their position known for some time. Brown announced his position on Monday with an op-ed in Politico.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-WA)? A new PPP poll out Tuesday suggests voters in Washington state are largely unreceptive to the thought of the Ohio congressman moving west and running for office in their state.

In the poll, 39% of registered voters said Kucinich should not run for Congress from a new district that will be drawn next year as a result of last year's census reapportionment, while 12% said he should run. A bright spot fo Kucinich though, should he move to Washington and decide to run, is that a 48% plurality of voters are still undecided.

Also, while a 53% majority of voters there don't know Kucinich well enough to form an opinion of him, a greater percentage of voters don't like him (28%) than the percentage who do like him (19%.)

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rounded out a tumultuous visit to Washington with a speech to a largely sympathetic Congress Tuesday, compared to the tense relations on display with President Obama last week.

During the address, Netanyahu reaffirmed the close ties between the U.S. and Israel and once again rejected any suggestion of redrawing Israel's borders with a future Palestinian state along 1967 lines.

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Controversial preacher Bradlee Dean's morning prayer on the Minnesota House floor Friday has garnered him so much attention he's now asking supporters for money to hire a publicist.

"WOW! Did you ever think going to the Capitol to give a prayer paying homage to the Founders, the Veterans and Christ could be so offensive to our politicians?" Dean wrote to supporters, the Minnesota Independent reports. "We certainly didn't start this fight but we are more than willing to respond! Our small ministry team has been going non-stop the past 72 hours to not only defend the truth but to continue fighting for the foundation that made this nation so great."

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Both parties are calling in the big guns to rally voters as residents in New York's 26th district line up to vote in today's special election.

On the Republican side, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of the most popular party members nationally, has a robo-call making the rounds backing Republican Jane Corwin.

"Now, I'm sure you've received many phone calls about this election already, nut please just give me a few seconds of your time as the election draws near," Christie says in the call, according to The Buffalo News. "I'm calling to ask you for your support for Jane Corwin for Congress as you go to the polls Tuesday, May 24th. I ran for governor of New Jersey because like you, I wanted to see REAL change. Jane Corwin is a fighter who knows how to get things done. We're in critical times for our country, and Washington needs stand-up leaders who will fight to control spending and change business as usual."

Rallying Democrats, former President and current New York State resident Bill Clinton has recorded a call as well. Clinton's script focuses tightly on the Medicare angle that Democrats have been pushing in the district, an approach they credit with their current lead in the polls.

"You can count on Kathy to say no to partisan politics that would end Medicare as we know it to pay for more tax cuts for multi-millionaires," he says. "That's just one reason I hope you'll join me in supporting Kathy Hochul for Congress in the Special Election tomorrow, May 24th."

Could Republicans be in for a hard time next year now that the auto industry is struggling back to its feet? Democrats say yes. On a Tuesday morning conference call with reporters, former Democratic Govs. Jennifer Granholm (MI) and Ted Strickland (OH) said voters in their states are enjoying thousands of new jobs thanks to the auto industry bailout Republicans (these days, anyway) love to hate.

And with Chrysler completing its repayment of $7.6 billion in federal loans six years early, Democrats say the Republicans running for president -- all of whom slammed the bailout program, they say -- have found themselves on the wrong side on what has turned out to be a successful jobs program.

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Is it possible that Democrats will squander the political advantage on Medicare that they just regained over Republicans? It could happen.

At his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) confirmed what aides in both parties have been telling reporters: Cuts to Medicare will be on the table in deficit and debt limit negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden.

After arguing that Democrats made significant headway toward extending Medicare's solvency with the health care law, Hoyer said, "Do I believe that there are other things we can do related to Medicare? The answer is I do. I'm not going to get into articulating each one, but my expectation is they will be under discussion by the Biden group."

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Newt Gingrich's naysayers should be careful about making fun of his policy flip-flops and luxurious personal spending -- they just might get challenged to a duel.

As The Hill reports, Gingrich has announced that former Sen. Zell Miller, the former segregationist Southern Democrat turned progressive turned right-wing conservative, will co-chair his presidential campaign. Also co-chairing is former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, and current Gov. Nathan Deal (who has previously flirted with birtherism, but has since moved on) will head up the campaign in Georgia.

Miller has the interesting distinction of having keynoted the 1992 Democratic convention, delivering a rip-roaring speech against President George H.W. Bush. Then 12 years later, he keynoted the 2004 Republican convention, delivering a rip-roaring speech for President George W. Bush, and slamming Democratic nominee John Kerry (a man he had previously praised as an American hero) and the whole Democratic Party.

Memorably, when questioned about these inconsistencies by Chris Matthews, Miller gave such replies as "Get out of my face," and, "I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel."

Since then, he has consistently endorsed Republican candidates, and railed against liberals.

There's been much speculation in recent weeks that Texas Governor Rick Perry (R), sensing an opening in the Republican primary field, could be a major player should he throw his hat in the ring. Perry says he's not running, and according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of registered voters, that might be the right call. Perry would have a tough time drawing support even from GOP voters in his own state.

Perry polled near the back of the field among a slate of possible GOP contenders, coming in at just 4%, tying him with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Sarah Palin came out on top at 12%, while Newt Gingrich trailed at 11%, and Mike Huckabee -- who announced last week that he wouldn't run -- and Ron Paul tied at 10%. Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann both garnered 7% of the vote, and Donald Trump earned 6%.

Only Rick Santorum (3%), Jon Huntsman (1%) and Mitch Daniels (1%) came in behind Perry.

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