TPM News

If House Republicans succeed in cutting tens of billions of dollars in discretionary spending over the next six months, some of the most immediate victims will be federal employees, many of whose jobs will be slashed as their agencies pare back.

At a press conference in the lobby of RNC headquarters Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shrugged this off as collateral damage.

"In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs," Boehner said. "If some of those jobs are lost so be it. We're broke."

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An IBM supercomputer named Watson is tied for first place after the airing last night of the first of three exhibition episodes of the popular quiz show game Jeopardy!. Facing Jeopardy!'s two most successful contestants, Watson was tied for first place with $5,000 dollars at the end of the first episode. Ken Jennings, famous for his 2004, 75-game Jeopardy! run, was trailing in third with $2,000.

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Gov. Haley Barbour has denied reports that he and his former lobbying firm worked to promote a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S. on behalf of the Mexican government, saying in a statement that he "never advocated amnesty for illegal aliens."

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One hundred faculty members at UC Irvine signed a letter last week asking Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to drop the charges against 11 Muslim students, 8 from UC Irvine and 3 from UC Riverside, who last year disrupted a speech on campus by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. On February 4, the DA's office announced that it was charging each student with "one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to disturb a meeting and one misdemeanor count of disturbance of a meeting."

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Some frequent visitors to the Texas Capitol in Austin are obtaining concealed handgun licenses in order to gain quicker access through the building's security screening, Reuters reports.

Concealed handgun license holders can enter the Capitol via an expedited "CHL access" line, while "schoolchildren and tourists" have to pass through metal detectors, according to the report.

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Chances Up For Federal Shutdown The Hill reports: "The chances of a government shutdown are on the rise. With less than three weeks to strike a deal before government funding for the year is scheduled to expire, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are moving in opposite directions. Lawmakers from both parties stress they want to avoid a rerun of the stalemate that led to a shutdown in late 1995 and early 1996. But the rhetoric on spending has escalated, and Democratic and GOP officials are already prepping for the blame game."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:15 a.m. ET. The President will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. ET. Obama and Biden will meet for lunch at 12:15 p.m. ET. Then at 1:30 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will honor recipients of the 2010 Medal of Freedom. Obama and Biden will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

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Monday, Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) were almost reading from two different scripts on entitlements. But in reality, Republicans seem to be coalescing around the same objective: to put Social Security and maybe even Medicare on the chopping block.

Cantor, the Majority Leader, announced at a pen and pad with reporters yesterday that the Republican budget would cut entitlements -- and Social Security in particular. Ryan, who chairs the Budget Committee, wouldn't commit to it.

But Ryan isn't exactly afraid of proposing controversial entitlement reforms.

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There may be warning signs in conservative-heavy states for Mitt Romney's potential GOP presidential nomination bid, but back home in New England, he looks poised to dominate the competition. According to a WMUR/Granite State poll, the former Massachusetts governor steamrolls the GOP field, leading his closest challenger by a daunting 30-point margin.

In the poll, 40% of respondents said Romney was their first choice to represent the GOP in 2012. Rudy Giuliani came in second at 10%, followed by Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee with 7% each. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin tied for fifth place with 6% each, while Ron Paul (5%) Donald Trump (3%) Haley Barbour (1%) and Rick Santorum (1%) brought up the rear.

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