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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)--House Republicans' top budget guy, and the author of a long-term budget roadmap that would slash Medicare and Social Security--says that attacks against his plan were orchestrated by the highest levels of the Democratic party, all the way up to the President.

The attack, Ryan told former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, "came out of the Democratic National Committee, and that is the White House."

Ryan believes he's a target purely for reasons of misdirection.

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Reid Puts Off Senate Business -- But Dems Still On Hand Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has delayed efforts to pass a jobs bill this week, due to the snowstorm shutting down Washington. However, Reid still expects to have Democratic Senators on hand to work on the bill -- because they can't go home. "You certainly aren't probably going to be able to leave if you wanted to with the storms being such as they are," said Reid.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet at 11:45 a.m. ET with a group of African-American leaders, to discuss the economy and jobs. The expected attendees include: Dr. Dorothy I. Height, Chairwoman, National Council of Negro Women; Benjamin T. Jealous, President, NAACP; former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League; and Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder, National Action Network.

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If some Republicans are squeamish about Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to privatize Social Security, there's plenty of tax cuts for the rich included in the plan they might find more to their liking.

TPMDC has been scouring the "Roadmap for America's Future" budget blueprint that Ryan, ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, proposed a few weeks ago. Among the nuggets that have GOPers running a bit scared are his plans to dramatically slash Social Security and Medicare benefits to cut the deficit.

Under the plan, Ryan (R-WI) also would give taxpayers a choice of a "simpler" system with just two tax brackets and he would repeal the corporate income tax. In its place he creates a "consumption tax" of 8.5 percent that experts tell us would unfairly burden the lower and middle classes. That's a tax on all goods and services that shifts the tax burden from corporations to individual consumers.

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In their quest to cast President Obama's handling of the Christmas bomber as weak and ineffectual, Republicans have had to overcome a stubborn fact: The Bush administration handled shoe bomber Richard Reid in similar fashion in 2001. So what do you do with stubborn facts? You change them.

On the Daily Show last night, Newt Gingrich claimed the "shoe bomber," Richard Reid, is an American citizen.

Reid is actually a British citizen.

Gingrich was attacking the Obama administration for reading the Miranda rights to the Christmas Day attempted bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Jon Stewart pointed out that the Bush administration did the same to Reid.

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A National Guardsman who became a cause celebre among gay-rights groups last year, after announcing on The Rachel Maddow Show that he is gay and being recommended for discharge, has returned to training with his unit.

The move doesn't appear to be evidence of an explicit policy change on Don't Ask Don't Tell, but it does count as more potential evidence of a shift in attitude in military circles.

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today he expects Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) to take over the chairmanship of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, which was held by the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).

"I think he will be able to fill that role," Hoyer said, according to Roll Call.

Dicks is the next ranking member on the subcommittee. He is also the chair of the subcommittee on interior appropriations, on which he has served since he became a Congressman in 1977.

Dicks is "an extraordinarily able Member of Congress," Hoyer said.

After watching a key labor nominee fail to be confirmed by the Senate thanks to a filibuster, the head of the nation's largest union federation says he's ready for President Obama to take matters into his own hands.

"We support President Obama's expressed willingness to make recess appointments of critical posts in the federal government if that's what it takes to get around minority delay and obstruction," says an official statement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "There are currently more than 60 political nominees being held up by the Republican minority in the Senate - at this point in the Bush Administration, only four nominees were still in limbo."

Ins so doing, Trumka joins Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in arguing that it's appropriate for the President to circumvent GOP obstruction.

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The new Rasmussen poll of Pennsylvania Democrats shows Sen. Arlen Specter continuing to lead his primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak.

The numbers: Specter 51%, Sestak 36%. Last month, Specter led by slightly more, at 53%-32%, but the month before that was closer at 48%-35%. Specter switched parties last year, after 28 years as a Republican Senator, because his support for the stimulus bill had served to guarantee his defeat in the GOP primary. Sestak has been attempting to parlay distrust of Specter among Democrats into a successful primary challenge, but the incumbent has been holding on.

From the pollster's analysis: "Specter's support has ranged from 46% and 53% in the earlier polls. Incumbents who fall below 50% on a consistent basis are viewed as vulnerable, but this is the second month in a row where he's crossed that critical line. In the five previous Rasmussen Reports polls on the race, Sestak's support has ranged from 32% to 42%. He was most competitive in October when the numbers showed Specter with 46% of the vote and Sestak at 42%."

February 9, 2010: A major snow storm struck the Northeast this past weekend, blanketing several states and rendering hundreds without electricity. The storm practically shut down Washington, D.C., with both chambers on Capitol Hill breaking from their work. Now a second storm is blanketing both the east coast and Midwest, prompting the House to close down shop in anticipation of the pending snow. Here are some images of the storm from the Beltway and beyond.

Above, a missive on a snowed-in car in Herndon, VA.


Capitol Hill is hit by flurries on February 6th.


Washington, D.C., confronts the snow.

United States Park Police

The reflecting pool in front of the Washington Monument on February 7th.


Bo, the Obama family dog, enjoys the snow.

White House photo by Pete Souza

Snow covers the White House lawn.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

News racks are buried in snow on the Washington, D.C., streets.

Photo by Christina Bellantoni

A snowball fight organized by Facebook in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., drew dozens of revelers.


A snowboarder soars on a hill in front of the Lincoln Memorial on February 7th.


Residents in Philadelphia, PA attempt to shovel out a car.


The snow storm hit the Beltway and the Rust Belt. A man trudges throw the snow in Pittsburgh, PA.


A dog watches the snow fall in Harrisburg, PA.


Snow blankets a supermarket in Herndon, VA.


A truck drives down I-495 in Alexandria, VA.


Children play in the snow in Haddon Heights, NJ.


A couple strolls down a street in Alexandria, VA.


Republican leaders warned today that they might skip the White House's bipartisan health care meeting Feb. 25 because they think President Obama isn't trying hard enough to be bipartisan on the controversial issue. But a new ABC News poll out today shows that Americans think it's Republicans who need to try harder to reach across the aisle. Overwhelmingly, they support efforts to find a compromise in health care, rather than scrap reform efforts entirely.

Just 30% of respondents to the poll said that Republican efforts at bipartisanship are "about right." Fifty-eight percent said the GOP is doing "too little" to work with the their Democratic colleagues. Respondents were more approving of Obama's attempts to be bipartisan -- 45% said his efforts were "about right," and 44% said they were "too little."

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