TPM News

A real split is developing between fiscal conservative groups and Congressional Republicans as Rep. Paul Ryan's budget "roadmap" gets more attention.

GOP leaders in the House have said again and again that even though Ryan is their chief budget writer and he'll be the one to offer their alternative spending plan this spring, what he produced showing massive Social Security and Medicare cuts is not their official plan.

But we keep talking to conservatives who are asking in earnest, Why not?

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Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) "roadmap" budget plan -- which calls for balancing the budget in 50 years by effectively privatizing Social Security and Medicare -- could become an excellent political tool for the Democrats, says former Clinton adviser Paul Begala.

Begala, in an interview today with TPM, said Democrats should force the GOP to bring their ideas into the public eye.

"Why don't we put Mr. Ryan's budget up to a vote?" he said. "Make them vote on it."

Democrats, he argued, should stop calling Republicans the "party of no."

"They have ideas, and lots of them. And their ideas ruin the country," Begala said.

What the Democrats have to do, he said, is make the 2010 elections a choice between Democratic and Republican ideas, instead of a referendum on just the Dems. (A point Chuck Todd made earlier this week.) The way to do it, he said, is to highlight those GOP ideas.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner.

• CBS, Face The Nation: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

• Fox News Sunday: Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan, former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

A new CNN poll measures American opinion on the Tea Party movement, finding that the answer for now is...well, mostly undecided.

The poll of American adults found that 33% had a favorable opinion of the Tea Parties, compared to 26% unfavorable. Republicans responded favorably by a ratio of three to one, while Democrats felt unfavorably by two to one. Independents were fairly close to the top-lines, at 35% favorable and 24% unfavorable. The real leader, however, was the undecided vote, broken down in two categories: 24% who never heard of it, and 16% who have no opinion.

"The Tea Party movement is a blank slate to many Americans, which is not surprising for a political movement that is only about a year old," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Not surprisingly, opinion breaks along partisan and ideological lines."

The White House released a transcript of the remarks delivered today by President Barack Obama and CIA Director Leon Panetta at a memorial service for the seven CIA officers killed in eastern Afghanistan on December 30th. Read the transcript after the jump.

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A politically connected British defense contractor has agreed to plead guilty to having misled the government about payments that may have been used to help win contracts Saudi Arabia, the Justice Department has announced.

In a joint agreement with the U.S. and U.K., BAE Systems will pay a $400 million fine.

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Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has called upon Scott Lee Cohen, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in his home state of Illinois, to withdraw from the race.

Cohen has faced controversy since he narrowly won a six-way primary on Tuesday, over allegations involving alleged attempted sexual assault of his then-wife, past domestic violence against a girlfriend, steroid use, and being behind on child support payments. Cohen has admitted to steroid use. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who is now the party's nominee for U.S. Senate, has already called for Cohen to drop out.

"He really should spare himself, and his friends and family what he's about to go through," Durbin said in an interview with WBBM-AM radio, the local CBS affiliate. "I'm afraid the disclosures so far really disqualify him."