TPM News

Boeing Co. raked in millions of dollars from the U.S. Army by marking up spare helicopter parts as much as 177,000 percent, according to a Defense inspector general report first obtained by the Project on Government Oversight.

Boeing, a major defense contractor, overcharged the Army on 18 different parts and collected $23 million dollars instead of the $10 million it should have received in fiscal year 2010. One part, a straight pin that usually valued at $0.04, was sold to the Army for an astronomical $74.01 per unit. A plain stud used on Apache helicopters fetched $3,369.48, even though it usually retails for $190.00 a piece - a 1,673 percent markup.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says Republican leaders are kidding themselves if they think they'll prevail in their bid to keep new tax revenues out of a grand bargain to lift the nation's borrowing limit. And to prove it, he says, look no further than the House of Representatives.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Battle Over The Budget: Behind The Scenes At The White House]

"Speaker Boehner should realize we're in a different world than we were even a few months ago," Schumer told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday. "He needs Democrats to pass a bill through the House."

A number of Republican House members have said they won't vote to raise the debt limit at all, or only under certain, highly partisan circumstances. Schumer's math suggests that means he'll need Democratic votes to pass a viable debt limit bill, and that means new revenues will have to be part of the equation.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) reelection campaign just got the prostitution scandal bump.

A few months after Jindal publicly declined to endorse Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) for reelection last year, Vitter is being the bigger person and endorsing Jindal for another term as governor anyway.

Team Jindal told reporters in Louisiana the governor is "appreciative of the senator's support."

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry has reportedly been eyeing the race for the Republican presidential nomination -- but Texas isn't eyeing him for president, according to new survey from Public Policy Polling (D).

Indeed, the poll shows Perry trailing President Obama in heavily Republican Texas, which last voted Democratic for president in 1976, when Jimmy Carter was the South's favorite son. Obama leads 47%-45%, even though Obama's net approval rating is underwater at 42%-55%. Of course, this could potentially change if Perry actually became the nominee in a real election, but it's not a good starting point.

The poll found Perry's approval rating at only 43%, with 52% disapproval. In addition, the poll asked simply: "Do you think Rick Perry should run for president next year, or not?" The result was only 33% saying he should run, to 59% saying he should not.

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For the first time, a Republican appointed federal judge -- part of a three-judge circuit court panel -- has ruled that the individual insurance mandate in President Obama's health care law is constitutional.

The Sixth Circuit appellate court panel -- the first appellate court to rule on the question -- dismissed the plaintiffs' claim that levying a penalty against people who choose not to purchase insurance exceeds Congress' Commerce Clause powers. The justices also dismissed the underlying argument that the provision amounts to "regulating inactivity."

The development represents a significant victory for the Obama administration, which is facing numerous challenges to the mandate from individuals, conservative interest groups and Republican governors. A number of district court judges have ruled on the question already, and in a striking pattern, all Republican-appointed judges have ruled against the administration, and all Democratic judges with the administration. Today's development upends that trend.

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Federal legislative proposals to help consumers to effectively stop companies from tracking them online without their knowledge might "break the internet," a key Republican senator working on the legislation said in a hearing on the issue on Wednesday.

"In a world where people voluntarily share very personal information on web sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, I'm not entirely sure what consumer expectations are when it comes to privacy, but I am sure that different consumers have different expectations about privacy," said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) in a Wednesday morning Senate Commerce Committee hearing on privacy and data security.

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In his Wednesday press conference, President Obama dodged a question about whether he personally supports same-sex marriage: "I'm not going to make news on that today -- good try though."

Obama also wouldn't say whether he thinks marriage is a civil right, instead characterizing it as a state level issue: "What you saw was the people of New York having a debate, talking through these issues. It was contentious, it was emotional, but ultimately they made a decision to recognize civil marriages. And I think that's exactly how things should work."

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