TPM News


By John Voelcker

After multiple delays and slipped deadlines, you might be forgiven for assuming it would never happen. But it did.

Fisker Automotive has delivered one of its first production cars, a 2012 Fisker Karma extended-range electric sports sedan, to a paying customer. The video below shows the handover two days ago.

But it's not just any old paying customer.

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As promised, all Senate Democrats aligned Friday night to kill the just-passed House Republican bill to raise the debt limit.

The roll call fell closely along party lines, 59-41, with all Democrats voting to table Speaker John Boehner's controversial bill, joined by several Republicans who also oppose that plan.

Now we enter a period of calm. Before midnight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to introduce his own debt limit bill -- amended to include more spending cuts, and a few as-yet undisclosed carrots, to entice enough Republicans to overcome a filibuster and pass the legislation.

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Only two of the Republican candidates running for president actually played a direct role in the fight that has locked Washington in an endless cycle of procedural votes and late-night pizza runs for the past week. And in the end, each came down on a different side of the fence.

Other candidates are necessarily on the sidelines of the debt limit scrum. But Jon Huntsman's campaign got involved anyway, using Friday's House vote to score some political points.

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After a dramatic 24 hours filled with vote delays, arm-twisting, and the Tea Party flexing its political muscle, in the end House Republicans managed to pass Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) debt bill quite easily in a party-line vote of 218 to 210.

Boehner ended up agreeing to include a balanced budget amendment -- even though it has no chance of passing in the Senate. The concession was enough to attract a majority of Republicans, many of whom were elected on pledges to slash spending. The real heavy-lifting now begins between Boehner and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) who must forge a compromise that can pass both chambers and be signed by the President before the rapidly approaching Aug. 2 deadline for default.

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As expected, President Obama on Friday unveiled an agreement with the auto industry that establishes a new fuel economy standard that requires fleets to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

"This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we've ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Obama said Friday morning at a White House event.

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Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) recovered Friday after a set of bruising setbacks this week, but his real test will come over the weekend when he's forced to quickly negotiate a bill that will attract enough Democratic support to offset the inevitable GOP losses on his right flank while not alienating his base of support and losing too many Republicans -- all under incredibly tight time pressure as the August 2nd default deadline looms ever larger.

Just how he threads the needle will be the most difficult test of his leadership yet.

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It was supposed to happen Wednesday, then again on Thursday. It was supposed to be a squeaker, and potentially a viable measure to avoid default. But in the end there was no suspense, and the vote was mostly ceremonial. Early Friday evening, House Republicans passed legislation to raise the national debt limit -- their final symbolic gesture in a partisan debate that has raged for months and seen the GOP bring the country to the brink of economic collapse.

The final vote was 218 in favor to 210 against. Zero Democrats joined the majority, and only 22 Republicans voted with the Democrats.

When discussions between Boehner and President Obama over pairing a the debt limit extension and deficit reduction measures fell apart, the task of avoiding default fell to Congress -- and presented Boehner with a major challenge: How could he be both a responsible steward of the country and usher through bipartisan legislation to avoid a catastrophic default, and not break faith with his members.

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Employees of the New York Post were instructed Friday to "preserve and maintain" any documents that may relate to the practice of phone hacking or bribing of public officials.

The legal department for News Corp, the Post's parent company, explained in a memo to Post staff that "we are sending this notice not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful. However, given what has taken place in London, we believe that taking this step will help to underscore how seriously we are taking this matter."

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If you've still got an unlimited AT&T data plan that you're holding onto for dear life to stream gigs and gigs of Spotify and Netflix and god knows what else, your life is about to suck a lot more.
Even if you're grandfathered in with one of those good-old-days unlimited plans, the all-you-can-eat-as-fast-as-you-want data plan as we know it is gone. But it gets worse.

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