TPM News

President Obama will take questions from YouTube users next Wednesday at a live White House event, another push from his tech-savvy team to open up the process to everyday people.

The event is billed as allowing follow-up questions to his State of the Union address tomorrow night.

The White House posted a blog this morning detailing the project, but has not announced it to the press. It's another example of the Obama team circumventing the Washington establishment to communicate more directly with voters.

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President Obama will propose freezing non-security discretionary government spending for the next three years, a sweeping plan to attempt deficit reduction that will save taxpayers $250 billion over 10 years.

When the administration releases its budget next week, the discretionary spending for government agencies from Health and Human Services to the Department of Treasury will be frozen at its 2010 level in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013.

A senior administration official detailed the move, speaking on a condition of anonymity because Obama will announce his decision during his State of the Union address Wednesday night.

The cuts would target "duplicative," "ineffective" and "inefficient" spending withing government, the official said on a conference call with reporters.

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In the wake of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on money in politics, corporations looking to affect the process already are strategizing with lawyers, consultants, and PR pros on how to capitalize on the changed landscape.

"There clearly are clients who are asking questions about what it means for them," Larry Noble, a former general counsel for the FEC who's now a lawyer at Skadden Arps, told TPMmuckraker. "They're asking: 'what is it that I wasn't allowed to do before that I can now do?'"

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The two former Blackwater contractors who were charged this month with murder for the shooting death of two Afghan men left the military with other-than-honorable discharges for behavior ranging from assault to going AWOL and testing positive for cocaine, according to service records that surfaced in bond hearings, the AP reports.

A judge in federal court in Virginia has ordered Christopher Drotleff and Justin Cannon held in custody; arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday. The judge called Drotleff "a danger to the community based on the nature of the charged offense, his history of alcohol abuse and criminal and military history which include crimes of violence."

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are looking for a solution to the health care conundrum and are facing some tough realities. They know the House won't pass the Senate health care bill unless it can be sure the Senate will act on separate piece of legislation amending a number of its key provisions. And they know that many of these changes--particularly to the tax structure of the Senate bill--would likely only pass by circumventing a filibuster using the so-called budget reconciliation process.

The duo are working through a number of possibilities, including a new idea, floated by several House members, to expedite the reconciliation strategy. But, as always, nothing's as easy as it seems.

"There are obviously a handful of ideas that people are looking at," said a House Democratic aide. "We passed a student loan bill in the House. That's sitting over in the Senate. One idea that has been discussed is to, on that bill, amend it to address the concerns about the Senate [health care] bill, primarily the Cadillac tax, and the Nebraska [Medicaid] deal; have the Senate pass that under reconciliation, have that come back to us, we pass it, and we also vote on the Senate bill."

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On Hardball today, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) joined the chorus of rank-and-file Democrats who have come out against the possibility of the House passing the Senate health care reform bill exactly as it is in order to get legislation out of its current deadlock.

"We're not going to pass the Senate bill -- that's not going to go anywhere in the House," Pascrell said.

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