TPM News

On the campaign trail today, Mitt Romney picked up on the Republican party line that it's President Obama who's holding up the works on the debt ceiling increase -- and that he can end the fight whenever he wants.

Romney didn't offer any comment on the plan offered by Mitch McConnell that incensed so many conservatives, but he did double-down on his support for the Cut, Cap and Balance plan favored by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and his conservative allies in the GOP.

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A bit more information on the plan Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are ironing out to raise the debt limit, and avoid a catastrophic debt default.

You'll recall that McConnell's original vision was heavy on the politics, but substantively amounted to allowing President Obama to raise the debt limit with no policy strings attached -- no spending cuts, no tax increases, nada. The rub was that Obama would have to raise the debt ceiling in three increments, and notify Congress of his intent each time. Each time, Congress would vote, or attempt to vote, to stop him from doing so. Each time, he'd veto. Each veto would be sustained by a minority vote in both the House and Senate. In addition, each time, he'd have to draw up a menu of aspirational spending cuts of his choice, in the amount by which he's raising the debt limit.

In an unexpected turn, Reid is proposing to give McConnell back the "clean," no-strings-attached aspect of his offer, according to a highly-placed Democratic source.

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By Michael Infranco

Amid the clamor over the price of oil hitting $100 a barrel and our heavy dependence on foreign sources of supply, ethanol has reemerged as an alternative fuel that seems to have all the right stuff: it's renewable, it's affordable, and it's American-made.

But is ethanol the real deal? Can it really help wean the U.S. off foreign oil? Or is it the 21st-century equivalent of Jimmy Carter's shale-oil Holy Grail?

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Seemingly undaunted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) continued brickwall response to any deficit reduction deal involving net tax increases, the President plans to keep pressing Republicans to go for the "holy grail" and strike the biggest deal possible, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.

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Senate Democrats are embracing Eric Cantor's account of a testy President Obama challenging the Majority Leader in a meeting, using the Republican's version of events in a fundraising e-mail.

According to Cantor, Obama ended their Wednesday debt ceiling negotiations with a stern warning before abruptly leaving. "He said to me, 'Eric, don't call my bluff. I'm going to the American people with this,'" Cantor told reporters on Wednesday. "I was somewhat taken aback."

The White House disputed his claim that Obama ditched the talks, which they said were already concluding, But the line that Cantor recounted to the press is catching on with Democrats. In a message titled "Bluff," DSCC executive director Guy Cecil asked supporters on Thursday to help back up Obama's challenge with some extra cash. The e-mail is below:

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David VanderLeest, the Republican candidate in next week's Wisconsin recall election targeting Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen, has signed a pledge that he will not vote to raise taxes -- and does not want to talk about whether he has paid his own taxes, or any of the other personal issues that have dogged his campaign.

The report from the Green Bay Press Gazette cannot be improved upon:

VanderLeest also indicated he did not want to discuss his legal and financial problems that have become the subject of multiple television ads from liberal groups. VanderLeest hasn't paid property taxes in three years, pled no contest to two misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges related to allegations of domestic abuse and has a bankruptcy, home foreclosure and unpaid settlement from 2006.


VanderLeest refused to answer questions about the liberal blog PoliticScoop, which reported VanderLeest receives financial assistance from the state despite being critical about welfare programs.

VanderLeest added: "We're not talking about anything but the issues of the state of Wisconsin."

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Since Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell first unveiled his plan to avoid a debt default, observers and critics have wondered aloud whether it passes Constitutional muster. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, the argument goes, and, by transferring the authority to issue more debt entirely to the President, the plan could fall afoul of it -- or so the argument goes.

This and other concerns have crept from the conservative Heritage Foundation to the Tea Party, and may ultimately call into doubt wither something like the McConnell plan can pass the House of Representatives.

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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says the time is all but up, and Congress must raise the debt limit by August 2, or unleash financial hell.

"There is no way to give Congress more time to solve this problem," Geithner told reporters in brief remarks outside the Senate chamber after meeting with the Democratic caucus.

"We're a country that meets its obligations, we're a country that pays our bills, and that we will act and do what's necessary to make sure that we can maintain that commitment," he added.

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