TPM News

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

• Fox News Sunday: Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

The Wisconsin Democratic state Senators have become fugitives, multiple media outlets are reporting, with the state police sent out to look for them -- and with the Dems out of the state entirely, others are volunteering to go on the beat.

The Democrats have fled the state, thus blocking the three-fifths quorum required under the state constitution to take up Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget. The budget includes controversial provisions against the state public employee unions, seeking to roll back many of the state's longstanding collective bargaining rights for public employees.

As Greg Sargent reports, state Sen. Chris Larson says that one of his colleagues, who has gone unnamed, briefly returned to his home to get some sleep. (Hmm, this person didn't seem to understand the whole concept of being on the lam.)

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is accusing President Obama of using his political organization to "demagogue" the efforts of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other GOP governors who are curbing the bargaining rights of public employees in the name of balancing the budget.

"President Obama has acknowledged the challenges we face, but - thus far - he has done nothing to offer solutions," Boehner said in a statement. "Now, worse, his political organization is colluding with special-interest allies across the country to demagogue reform-minded governors who are making the tough choices that the President is avoiding." 

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The SSA has put its employees on notice that GOP spending cuts could well lead to furloughs.

"It is important to note that the Commissioner has not decided to effectuate a furlough," reads a letter from the office of labor-management relations. "However, given the potential of reduced Congressional appropriations for the remainder of the fiscal year, the Agency is issuing this notice at this time in the event that a furlough may become necessary."

You can read the entire letter here. It's pursuant to this cut in the House GOP's proposed spending cut bill.

After he was elected in November, but before he took office, then Gov.-elect Scott Walker managed to squash contract negotiations between the lame duck government and public employee unions. He argued, reasonably, that he ought to get a real bite at the apple when he took office -- a typical argument against any major action during lame duck legislating.

But as he waged this fight, he asserted that he might decertify the unions completely. That, it turns out, is outside his gubernatorial authority. But it was a huge tell that he planned to go after unions in a dramatic way.

"Anything from the decertification all the way through modifications to the current laws in place," Walker told the Milwaukee Press Club in December. "The bottom line is we want to have a better ability to control what we do when it comes to wages and benefits."

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We know that Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker is framing his bid to roll back public sector worker rights as a necessary measure of fiscal austerity. And we know that's basically bogus. But how bogus? And how accurate are the dire warnings of fiscal crisis? And how standard are the tools Walker's using to address it?

The answers in order: very, overblown, and unconventional.

"Unconventional or nuclear, depending on your point of view," said Pat Kreitlow, a former Democratic senator in Wisconsin, who helped pass the state's current budget.

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More than a day after their decision to go AWOL, it's still unclear as to whether Wisconsin's Democratic Senators will return to Madison.

And on FOX's Studio B With Shep Smith Friday afternoon, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach put the ball firmly in Gov. Walker's court, when asked what it would take for the missing Dems to come back.

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Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has announced he will retire and not seek reelection in 2012, opening up another Democratic Senate seat in a swing state.

Bingaman was first elected to the Senate in 1982, defeating a Republican incumbent. On Election Day in 2012, he will be 69 years old.

"It's obviously not easy to make the decision to leave the Senate," Bingaman told a press conference in Albuquerque. "There's obviously important work to be done. There's important work that still remains to be done today, and there will be important work that remains to done at the end of this Congress. But that will undoubtedly be true at the end of every future Congress, as well. I think the simple truth is there is no ideal time to leave the Senate."

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By a vote of 240-185, the House passed Rep. Mike Pence's (R-IN) amendment to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding.

According to MSNBC, ten Democrats voted to pass the measure, while seven Republicans voted against it.

The bill is not likely to make it through the Senate, where the Democrats have the majority, or to survive a veto by President Obama if it comes down to it.

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