TPM News

The Democratic co-chair of President Obama's fiscal commission now says Democrats should entertain an increase in the Medicare eligibility age -- thanks in part to Obama's own health care law.

At a hearing before the deficit Super Committee, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles argued that the Affordable Care Act should allow Democrats to accept raising the Medicare eligibility age, because it creates a system of subsidized, guaranteed private health insurance for people who don't qualify for government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. And he outlined a plan -- framed as a pitch to Democrats -- that would total nearly $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, including a higher Medicare retirement age.

"As I have thought about it...under the Affordable Health Care Act we provide subsidies for people who have really chronic illnesses and people who have limited incomes so they can afford health care insurance in the private sector," Bowles told the panel during an exchange with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). "And that didn't exist before the Affordable Health Care Act. That means that people 65, 66, 67 will still be able to get health care insurance. So as I think about it I could support raising the health care age for Medicare since we have other coverage available under the Affordable Health Care Act."

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Let's take a quick break from the Herman Cain harassment scandal to focus on another story: Herman Cain's love for pizza-related parody songs.

Inspired by Cain's John Lennon cover, "Imagine There's No Pizza," a TPM reader produced this impressively elaborate music video parody of Sheryl Crow entitled "Strong Enough To By My Pan." Obviously, we at TPM 2012 want to encourage this behavior so check it out below:

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The Wisconsin state Senate on Monday approved, through its internal Committee on Senate Organization, a policy that will allow senators and others to carry firearms on the floor -- but in a hint of compromise, spectators will not be able to bring guns into the Senate gallery during floor sessions.

Also, individual lawmakers who do not want guns in their own offices will be able to post signs notifying citizens that weapons will not be allowed.

The rules were passed on Monday, on a party-line 3-2 vote, and then took effect today.

As TPM has previously posted, the policy is a result of the state's new law, passed by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker, allowing residents to obtain concealed-carry permits.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has an interesting take on Herman Cain's growing scandal: honestly, he says, these days it seems like women can't take a joke.

"There are people now who hesitate to tell a joke to a woman in the workplace, any kind of joke, because it could be interpreted incorrectly," he told the National Review. "I don't. I'm very cautious."

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A potentially huge shoe is dropping in the Herman Cain harassment scandal: one of his accusers indicated through her lawyer on Tuesday that she wants to come forward and tell her side of the story.

Joel P. Bennett, an attorney to one of the two National Restaurant Association employees who allegedly accused Cain of sexual harassment, told the Washington Post on Tuesday that his client is currently barred from speaking by a mutual non-disparagement agreement with the organization. But he says that agreement is being violated by Cain already, who has taken to the press to slam the harassment claim as "baseless," and that she now wants to come forward and reveal herself to set the record straight.

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A new round of Republican primary and caucus polling from Public Policy Polling (D) -- conducted almost entirely before the recent controversy involving past allegations against Herman Cain of sexual harassment -- show Cain leading among Republicans in North Carolina and Maine. But perhaps more importantly, PPP's analysis suggests that in the event of any potential Cain collapse, the likeliest beneficiary would be...Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich's campaign has been plagued by fundraising and personnel problems, plus the candidate's own gaffes and scrutiny of his personal life. But then again, the field has indeed gone through a cycle of conservative Tea Party voters looking for an alternative to Mitt Romney, only for problems to emerge with each one that comes along. (See Bachmann, M. and Perry, R. etc.)

Could Newt's number finally come up?

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Americans for Herman Cain, the fundraising "project" of the Cain-affiliated super PAC called the "9-9-9 Fund," has sent out an email claiming the sexual harassment allegations against the Republican candidate were part of a "'high tech' lynching," just like what happened to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

The email, from Americans for Herman Cain Campaign Director Jordan Gehrke, says that the "idea of a black conservative like Herman Cain as the GOP nominee is Barack Obama and the Left's worst nightmare" and that's "why they will do anything to take him down."

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