TPM News

Republicans have seized on a new study to argue that health care reform will harm workers, and that's put the White House on the defensive.

One of the key political planks of President Obama's universal health care push was the claim that his reforms would allow people who are happy with their current benefits to keep them. The argument was never completely true. In the pre-reform era, employees have been at their employers' whims, unable to count on their benefits remaining unchanged. And come 2014, when the law is fully implemented, the reforms themselves will mean some employees are nudged into different insurance policies. But the law was designed to minimize this sort of turbulence.

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After positioning himself as the candidate of tough choices, Tim Pawlenty drew widespread ridicule from experts across the political spectrum on Wednesday for his wildly optimistic economic plan.

Pawlenty unveiled his platform at a speech in Chicago, a combination of tax reforms and budget cuts that he said would yield an explosive economic recovery. The centerpiece of his proposal was setting a goal of 5% economic growth per year for a decade.

"Growing at 5% a year, rather than the current level of 1.8%, would net us millions of new jobs," he said. "Trillions of dollars in new wealth. Put us on a path to saving our entitlement programs. And balance the federal budget."

But a group of former CBO directors, who are chosen by Congress to analyze the budget from a nonpartisan perspective, are lambasting the number, saying it's completely out of line with any mainstream assessment of the American economy.

"The trend growth rate is not going to be 5% in the United States," Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the CBO under President Bush and a top GOP advisor, told TPM. "The market just doesn't support that. It just doesn't."

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Call the police! Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is a terrorist, according to Stephen Colbert.

On his show Tuesday night, Colbert highlighted Paul's suggestion that people should be deported or imprisoned simply for "attending speeches" by someone advocating the overthrow of the government.

"That is perfectly consistent with Rand Paul's libertarian constitutional ideals," Colbert said. "The bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, not freedom of listen."

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More than 400 organizations around the world are turning on the next version of the internet protocol for a day to test how it works on a large scale. The successful deployment of the scheme is crucial if the internet is to grow.

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Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has for four years served on the board for a group of hospitals facing a number of legal problems, including a lawsuit by the Department of Justice for Medicaid fraud, The Huffington Post reports.

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Wisconsin Republicans have now put forward a ringer Democratic candidate to force a primary in the recall against GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke, as part of the state GOP's strategy to combat the recalls. The candidate: James Smith, a 25-year old hospital technician who has served on the La Crosse County Republican executive committee, and who will now challenge the official Democratic candidate, state Rep. Jennifer Shilling.

The La Crosse Tribune reports:

Smith, a regular fixture at local labor protests this spring where he held signs touting his support for Gov. Scott Walker, said he resigned his party leadership position Monday before announcing his candidacy. He said he does not plan on campaigning aggressively but wants to protest the recall process.

"I want to bring light on the issue that 22,000 signatures can pretty much overturn an election where even the loser got 40,000 votes," he said Tuesday.

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Jon Stewart staged a mock press conference on The Daily Show Tuesday night, apologizing to his family, friends and viewers for not making more puns about Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) name.

"Thank you very much for being here," Stewart said. "I wanted to take some time to clear up some of the questions that have been raised about my behavior over the past 10 days or so, and to take full responsibility for my actions. I have made some mistakes, and I have hurt those closest to me."

Pretending to choke back tears, Stewart said he should have worked harder to fill his show with more lowbrow humor and puns concerning the congressman's name. And, lifting phrases directly from Weiner's own press conference, Stewart placed the blame squarely on himself.

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One of the persistent problems plaguing renewable energy is just how intermittent its sources are: The wind dies down, and clouds can obscure the sun.

On Tuesday, General Electric unveiled a project that will rely on a hybrid approach to solve the problem. The company and its partners are cobbling together wind, solar and natural gas to power up to 600,000 households from a power station to be built in southwestern Turkey. The target launch date is 2015.

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Louisiana lawmakers are doing Moses a solid.

On Monday, the Louisiana state House approved a measure to install a monument to the Ten Commandments outside the capitol, Reuters reports.

The measure -- sponsored by state Rep. Patrick Williams (D) -- passed unanimously without debate. Williams took less than 30 seconds to describe the bill, the Times-Picayune reports.

The monument, according to Williams, is intended to be historical, not religious. A secular message, "Context for acknowledging America's religious history," with be printed on a plaque on the monument.

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Like it or not -- and believe it or not -- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is poised to jump into the GOP presidential primary. While she could end up being a serious contender in her own right, her entry into the race will perhaps be even more significant for the scrambling of strategies it could set off among her fellow candidates.

When Bachmann first started making noises about a possible presidential run, it seemed more like a gambit to keep attention on her pet issues. She said this past January that she could have up to 12 months to decide, seemingly putting a decision as late as just slightly before the Iowa caucuses.

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