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Despite the media firestorm around a much disputed McKinsey report finding that large numbers of employers would drop health care coverage under President Obama's health care reform law, it seems some Republican freshmen are still using it as a talking point.

"We learned last week that approximately 30% of employers anticipate dropping their health care coverage as a result of this [law]," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) at a press conference with fellow freshmen Republicans on the Hill today. "So more things are coming to light showing this simply was not a good piece of legislation."

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2011 has been a busy year for labor unions across America. After historic budget battles in Wisconsin and Ohio, governors in more states like Florida and New Jersey have been clamping down on collective bargaining rights and targeting state worker benefits in attempts to cut spending and balance budgets.

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board made headlines when it filed a controversial complaint against Boeing aircraft for moving a plant from Washington to South Carolina. According to the complaint Boeing was violating labor laws by allegedly moving the plant so that the company would not have to deal with frequent strikes in their Seattle location.

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The Fast and Furious scandal at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has reached the Daily Show stage.

On his program last night, Jon Stewart mocked the ATF plan, in which the agency asked gun dealers to allow sales of weapons to individuals they suspected were straw purchasers so they could track where the weapons ended up.

"If this was the plan that they went with, what plan did we reject?" Stewart asked.

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Majority Leader Harry Reid's chief of staff, David Krone, left a highly lucrative gig at Comcast before working for the Senator. As part of his exit from the company, he's collected $1.2 million in additional payment since taking his job with Reid.

The Wall Street Journal focused on Krone's payout as part of a broader look at outside income in Congressional aides, many of whom earn cash as part of deferred payments or pensions for previous high-income jobs. Krone's $1.2 million stem from a severance arrangement in which Comcast purchased his house at above-market value when he left to cover any losses he would have incurred in moving to take a job with the cable giant. When the house was resold by the company at a much lower price, Krone listed the difference as "condo reimbursement" in his financial disclosure forms.

Reid's office says everything is aboveboard and accounted for and that the Senate Ethics Committee had approved the payment. "As difficult as it would be for anybody to divulge their personal finances for all to see and critique," Krone told the WSJ, "I have fully complied with the financial-disclosure requirements."

A Comcast spokesman told the Journal that the company did not know Krone was leaving for a government job when they negotiated the deal, a decision that Reid's office said came well after Krone had already quit. The WSJ cited sources saying the company may have "wanted to make sure that he didn't harbor any ill will after leaving, given his connections." It did not list any instances where Comcast may have benefited from Krone's position.

Ethics rules allow aides to receive payments from the private sector if the cash is only for work they did before jumping to public service. On the Senate side, however, employees cannot work for individual committees if they have deferred payments coming. There are gray areas -- aides can still take top positions with aides who chair the same committees if they stay out of legislative areas related to their source of income.

Update: This story was updated to clarify the timing of Krone's departure from Comcast.

You've noticed them printed on posters in subways, on corners of magazine ads, billboards, store signs, in books, sometimes on business cards, and even these days on tombstones.

Those black-and-white, square-shaped barcodes popping up everywhere are known as QR Codes, and now for the first time ever, the Royal Dutch Mint in the Netherlands has incorporated the Japanese technology into a new commemorative edition of its five and 10 Euro denomination coins.

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Newt Gingrich is responding to the continuing wave of staff resignations from his campaign -- saying it's simply because he's just too different of a politician. Also, he's like Reagan.

Reuters reports:

"Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians, and normal consultants found that very hard to deal with," Gingrich said in a speech to the Atlanta Press Club.

"We have big ideas. I just think that's part of how you campaign. You talk to the American people about big things."

On the other hand, Gingrich also noted that Ronald Reagan himself encountered some turbulence during the 1980 campaign, when 13 of his aides quit the campaign: "If I had to choose Reaganomics or 13 staffers quitting, I think for the average working American, Reaganomics was a much better deal."

They've made it explicit. Democrats are accusing Republicans of trying to sabotage the recovery -- or at least stall it -- by blocking all short-term measures to boost the economy, even ones they previously supported.

In a Capitol press conference Wednesday, the Senate's top Democrats argued that Republicans don't want to pass measures like a temporary payroll tax holiday for employers because they'll improve President Obama's re-election chances.

"Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).

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The organizers of Netroots Nation 2012 are doing their darndest to keep the conservative Right Online conference from horning in on their action.

Netroots is headed to Providence, RI next year -- offering attendees a chance to be close to major cities on the East Coast for less bucks, organizers say -- and, unlike this year's conference in Minneapolis, RightOnline won't be able to crash it.

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James Risen, the award-winning national security reporter for the New York Times who has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors to testify in a case against a CIA whistleblower, accused the government of attempting to intimidate him and his sources in an affidavit he filed to quash the subpoena.

"I take very seriously my obligations as a journalist when reporting about matters that may be classified or may implicate national security concerns," Risen wrote. "I do not always publish all information that I have, even if it is newsworthy and true. If I believe that the publication of the information would cause real harm to our national security, I will not publish a piece."

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Having reviewed the sum total of Jon Huntsman's accomplishments and biography, indeed looked deep within the former Utah governor's very soul, Club For Growth announced its findings on Wednesday: "Meh."

The conservative anti-tax outfit dubbed Huntsman a "frustrating figure," whom they nevertheless credited with pursuing "pro-growth" policies in Utah. On the negative side, they took off major points for increasing state spending ("inexcusable"), backing TARP, and once supporting cap-and-trade legislation to combat climate change. They were especially concerned with the governor's belief that Americans deserve proper health care.

"We find Governor Huntsman's statement that 'health care is a right' to be simply flabbergasting," they wrote. "We're not sure what part of the United States Constitution Governor Huntsman was referring to when he made that statement, but he certainly needs to explain what he was thinking."

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