TPM News

A funny thing happened on the way to a government shutdown. Democrats got on message about the House Republicans' other, bigger budget, which creates a policy blueprint for the next decade.

That message? The GOP plan to end Medicare and hack away at Medicaid is a non-starter. This came from top Democrats across the political spectrum.

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Republicans may be ready to hire Donald Trump.

According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Trump is the second choice of self-identified Republicans to represent the party in 2012. Trump, the brash real estate magnate, reality talk show host, and recent Comedy Central roastee, tied Mike Huckabee for second place, and trailed only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the party nod.

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Democrats have now drawn political first blood in Wisconsin, in the fight over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union law: In Milwaukee County, where Walker had previously been elected three times as county executive, the Dem-supported candidate has won in a rout -- and defeated a Republican state legislator who voted for Gov. Walker's bill.

Meanwhile, the hotly-contested state Supreme Court race, which has become proxy political battle over Walker's legislation, remains too close to call, and a recount is very possible. As of this writing, incumbent Justice David Prosser, who is supported by Republicans, leads Dem-supported Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg by less than 600 votes in the Associated Press's spreadsheet, with 99% of precincts reporting. The remaining precincts in Milwaukee County and elsewhere would likely favor Kloppenburg, with the question being just how much they do so.

The Milwaukee County race is officially non-partisan, but with 90% of precincts reporting, businessman and philanthropist Chris Abele, who has been a Democratic donor and is supported by the party, leads Republican state Rep. Jeff Stone by a whopping margin of 61%-39%. Abele has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press, and Stone has conceded. Stone had previously voted for the bill, but later sought to suggest less than total support for Walker's approach.

This office was historically Democratic, but Walker won a 2002 special election by a 55%-45% margin due to ethics scandals that sparked the resignation of the previous county executive, as well as multiple recalls of county board members. (Now in 2011, the state Democrats are spearheading recalls of Republican legislators.) Walker then won full terms with 57% of the vote in 2004, and 59% in 2008.

Now, in a massive swing, the Democrats could be about to take back the office by an even larger margin than Walker's personal best.

The Republicans most likely to vie for the chance to take on President Obama next year are, as a group, pleased with the new House budget proposal introduced Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

The contenders break down into two groups: candidates who are ready to sign on to the more controversial aspects of the budget bill, such as the plans to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid as we know it.

Among the pleased-but-still looking: Tim Pawlenty and Mitch Daniels. The "let's do this thing" crowd includes Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour and Sarah Palin. Those who haven't weighed in yet include Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann.

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According to a Pew poll released Tuesday, 57% of Americans don't think the U.S. has a clear plan in Libya, a seven-point rise since last week, and one that comes after President Obama addressed the country to lay out the nation's involvement and goals there.

Additionally, only 30% of adult Americans said the U.S. has a clear goal with the campaign in Libya.

Last Monday -- two weeks after American and allied forces began launching airstrikes on Muammar Qaddafi's military installations -- Obama delivered a prime time address to the nation laying out his reasons for joining the mission, and detailing what America's involvement would be going forward.

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The White House rejected Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) "Path to Prosperity" budget blueprint for fiscal 2012 Tuesday, arguing that it unfairly guarantees the prosperity of wealthy millionaires while overburdening seniors and the poor.

While President Obama is committed to dramatically reducing the country's long-term deficit, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, Ryan's plan is exactly the wrong approach.

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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's initial analysis of the House GOP budget released today by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is filled with nuggets of bad news for Republicans.

In addition to acknowledging that seniors, disabled and elderly people would be hit with much higher out-of-pocket health care costs, the CBO finds that by the end of the 10-year budget window, public debt will actually be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing.

Under the so-called "extended baseline scenario" -- a.k.a. projections based on current law -- debt held by the public will grow to 67 percent of GDP by 2022. Under the GOP plan, public debt would reach 70 percent of GDP in the same window.

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It's looking like the alleged vandalism of Wisconsin State Sen. Dan Kapanke's (R) car may not have been as bad as people were led to believe. In fact, it may not even have been vandalism at all.

Kapanke, one of the Republicans being targeted for recall by Democrats in the wake of Gov. Scott Walker's (R) newly-passed law curtailing public employee unions, had previously said his car's windshield was smashed in Madison, allegedly on March 9 -- the day that the bill was passed. He has also stated that he has received death threats, and that nails were scattered on his driveway back home.

Now, the Capital Times reports that police who inspected the vehicle have characterized the damage to his windshield as only a crack, consistent with a stone that would have been picked up in the tire of another car and then thrown behind.

A Kapanke staffer told the paper that lawmakers were asked to report anything out of the ordinary to the Senate Chief Clerk or the Capitol Police, and that the environment around the Capitol was tense at the time.

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After a White House meeting with President Obama Tuesday, leaders on Capitol Hill and their aides made it clear that they've reached an impasse in the spending cut fight, and see no way around it.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will put their heads together this afternoon in a private meeting at the Capitol to try to find common ground. And Obama, wading deeper into the government shutdown thicket than ever before, said at an unscheduled press conference that he'd bring the two leaders back to the White House Wednesday if they can't come to an understanding tonight.

But both Republicans and Democrats say it's not looking good.

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President Obama strongly scolded congressional Republicans on their failure so far to reach a budget compromise that would avert a government shutdown by the end of the week, instructing them to start acting like "grown-ups" and to stop playing political games.

"We don't have time for games," he told reporters during a rare appearance in the White House briefing room. "We don't have time to score political points."

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