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Republicans and Democrats inveigh against each others' competing debt limit bills with about equal intensity. Harry Reid's bill is filled with gimmicks and phantom cuts, Republicans claim. John Boehner's doesn't get the job done deficit-wise, Democrats counter, and will likely result in a U.S. credit rating downgrade anyhow.

Members of both parties have threatened, implicitly and explicitly, that they'd rather not raise the debt limit -- that they'd rather risk the consequences of a debt default -- than allow the other's plan to pass unamended.

The irony in all this is that while both complaints are pretty fair, the plans themselves are so similar that under normal circumstances merging them into one bill would be easy. And yet, with the country's borrowing authority set to expire in less than a week, that isn't happening -- at least not until House Republicans choreograph one more symbolic vote, and heighten the Congress', the market's, and the country's growing sense of urgency.

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Controversial anti-gay preacher Bradlee Dean is sick of the "left-wing" media's attacks against him, so he's decided to do something about it.

Dean and his ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, are suing Rachel Maddow and MSNBC for slander and false light, seeking damages in excess of $50 million.

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The change of heart is a time-honored part of American political theater. As public sentiments (read: polling) change, politicians often find a way to alter their positions through seemingly heart-felt rhetoric. But there are rare occasions when the change of heart is real. And according to one of the Muslim community members Herman Cain visited with Wednesday, the Republicans newfound respect for Islam is completely genuine.

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The Obama administration is moving toward a deal with automakers on a new fuel economy standard, which will likely boost the current standard by 80 percent, according to several news reports.

The new standard could be announced as soon as Friday.

At least five major automakers in the U.S., including General Motors and Ford, are expected to back the proposal, two auto makers told the Detroit News.

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House Republican leaders released a revised debt-reduction bill Wednesday evening after being forced to rewrite the bill so it complies with a promise from Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to produce more spending cuts than new borrowing authority.

The new Boehner bill will cut the deficit $917 billion over ten years and raises the debt limit $900 billion, a net cost savings of $17 billion, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis. In the next year along, fiscal year 2012, the bill would cut $22 billion in spending.

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The entire Senate Democratic caucus -- including independents Joe Lieberman (CT) and Bernie Sanders (VT) -- have a succinct message for House Speaker John Boehner: cram it!

In a Wednesday letter, the Democrats seek to prove what Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has been saying for days: nobody in his party will vote for Boehner's debt limit plan, and he should stop claiming it's a viable solution to the looming default crisis.

"With five days until our nation faces an unprecedented financial crisis, we need to work together to ensure that our nation does not default on our obligations for the first time in our history," the Dems write. "We heard that in your caucus you said the Senate will support your bill. We are writing to tell you that we will not support it, and give you the reasons why. A short-term extension like the one in your bill would put America at risk, along with every family and business in it. Your approach would force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months."

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Herman Cain had his much-ballyhooed meeting with Muslims Wednesday, and he emerged, he said in a campaign statement "humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends."

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Democrats on Tuesday fought off an attempt by Republicans in the North Carolina House to override Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a voter ID bill passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature last month.

A party line 67-52 vote left Republicans five votes short of overriding Perdue's veto, the Associated Press reported. But one Republican made a parliamentary maneuver that will allow Republicans to bring the issue up again.

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