TPM News

Senate Democrats today unleashed a torrent of criticism against the GOP's Cut, Cap, and Balance Act which passed the House late last night via a heavily partisan vote, re-branding it as a political scheme that would "kill medicare" and one that would never pass in the Senate.

"Let me make this as simple as I can: the Republican scheme to cap, cut, and kill medicare is dead on arrival in the senate," declared Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at a press conference in Washington. "[It] would wreak havoc on our country's seniors, the middle class, military preparedness, and our country's standing in the world - their plan to cut, cap, and kill medicare is the Ryan plan on steroids."

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The House Ethics Committee has hired a special prosecutor to handle the case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), a two-year investigation that has become mired in allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and partisan maneuvering.

The panel announced the hire of Billy Martin, a partner at the Washington office of Dorsey & Whitney, in a lengthy statement Wednesday, which came in the wake of an unprecedented document leak airing the committee's dirty laundry in excruciating detail. It was a unanimous decision, the panel said.

The scores of Ethics Committee e-mails and memos, reported by Politico Monday with links to the documents, paint a picture of a committee consumed by partisan dysfunction and accusations of professional misconduct surrounding Waters' case.

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) took on a representative of the conservative group Focus on the Family for mischaracterizing a study on "nuclear families" at a hearing on a bill which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

[TPM SLIDESHOW: NYC Celebrates After Marriage Equality Passes The State Senate]

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. Franken noted that the group's testimony listed the benefits of children "living with their biological and/or adopted mothers and fathers" as surpassing those of children "living in any other family form." He observed they listed a Department of Health and Human Services study as backing that up.

"I actually checked it out," Franken said in reference to the study FOF's Thomas Minnery has cited. He then observed it uses the term "nuclear families" without specifically mentioning "opposite sex married families."

"Isn't it true, Mr. Minnery, that a married same-sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite?" Franken asked.

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In a rowdy special session of Parliament on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron was grilled by the House of Commons over his hiring of a former News Of The World editor who has been implicated in the phone hacking scandal, telling Labour leader Ed Miliband to "stop hunting feeble conspiracy theories and start rising to the levels of events."

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Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) had to be feeling pretty good a little over eight months ago when he knocked off incumbent Ted Strickland on his way to being the Buckeye State's chief executive. Now it's the people of Ohio who don't feel that great about him.

Kasich's approval rating registered at a paltry 35% in the latest Quinnipiac poll of Ohio voters, with 50% disapproving of the Governor's performance, directly in line with the current TPM Poll Average. Ohio was one of the major flash points in the fight between newly elected Republican governors and public employee unions over collective bargaining rights, compensation and benefits. Much of the poll shows a public resistance to Kasich's policy in the area, but agreement that public employees should pay more of their health insurance and pension contributions.

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The British House Of Commons released a scathing report Wednesday accusing Rupert Murdoch's News International of "deliberately trying to thwart" the initial investigation into the News Of The World phone hacking allegations.

"We are astounded at the length of time it has taken for News International to cooperate with the police but we are appalled that this is advanced as a reason for failing to mount a robust investigation," the report said.

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A dark drama unfolded in Delaware County, Ohio last week. It involved a freshman Republican state Senator, his wife (who also happens to be the County Recorder), one of the family's guns and whispered, frantic calls to 911.

No charges were filed, but the scandal is putting allegations of domestic violence on State Sen. Kris Jordan -- one of the slew of Republicans elected in Ohio in November who pushed through Gov. John Kasich's (R) union-busting SB5 bill.

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Republican candidate David VanderLeest, who lost Tuesday's recall election for the Wisconsin state Senate against Democratic incumbent Dave Hansen, doesn't think his nearly two-to-one result was all that bad -- considering how he had almost no money against the well-financed Hansen. And he also wishes the state GOP, who effectively dropped him due to his financial and legal problems, could have helped him out a bit.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Hansen has won by 66%-34%, a raw-vote margin of 20,653-10,604. But Tuesday night, VanderLeest was looking on the bright side.

"We were outspent 1,500 to 1 and lost 2 to 1," VanderLeest told WisPolitics, also adding that he wished the state GOP would have helped his campaign: "I think the support could have been much greater, given that we were the first one out of the chute."

"I'm actually feeling pretty good considering how much I was outspent," VanderLeest also told the Associated Press. "It shows how well my message was received."

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