TPM News

A bill to introduce specialty Tea Party license plates in Arizona -- the sales of which would be used to fund Tea Party causes -- is now on its way to Governor Jan Brewer (R) for approval after being passed through the State Legislature Monday evening.

But if Brewer signs the bill, Arizona may risk losing 15 percent of its federal highway funding, if Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) gets his way.

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Republicans in Oklahoma appear poised to remove some more of what little union protection there is in that deep red and right-to-work state. On Tuesday, the state Senate passed House Bill 1593, a bill that would strip away Oklahoma's requirement that large cities engage in collective bargaining with so-called "non-uniformed" city workers. The state House already passed the bill and now it just awaits the expected signature of first-term Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

The state's existing collective bargaining law, which was signed by Democratic Gov. Brad Henry seven years ago, requires big municipalities -- population 35,000 and up -- to bargain with, as the The Oklahoman reported, "city road, sanitation and utility workers."

In the new legislation, as in the controversial anti-collective bargaining bill in Wisconsin, workers like firemen and police offers are exempt. The Oklahoma bill also excludes teachers from the change.

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BP plans to cut its overall tax bill by nearly $13 billion by writing off costs related to last year's mammoth oil spill as the Gulf Coast continues to grapple with the devastating environmental and economic costs of the disaster one year later.

The international oil giant suffered a $40.9 billion loss as a result of the oil spill, making its net losses for 2010 a total of $4.8 billion (BP had $36.1 billion in profits before factoring in the spill), according to its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and analysis by several tax experts consulted by TPM.

Under U.S. corporate law, companies can take credits on up to 35 percent of their losses. In this case, that means U.S. taxpayers are indirectly subsidizing at least part of cleanup cost and the $20 billion fund BP created to compensate people, fisherman and businesses along the Gulf Coast hurt by the spill.

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Social conservative and evangelical David Barton is against net neutrality because he says it goes against the principles of Ben Franklin, the Pilgrims, and the Bible.

Right Wing Watch reports that Barton was speaking with his co-host Rick Green on their radio show Tuesday, and declared that net neutrality is "wicked stuff, and I don't use that word very often, but this is wicked stuff."

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Minnesota state Sen. David Hann (R) says health care decisions should be made within the family, not by "strangers." So he's sponsored a bill that would change a current law that allows minors to see a doctor without their parents' consent.

The bill would require minors to get parental consent before seeking medical care for sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse and pregnancy. It would also allow parents to have access to their child's medical records. The bill has been approved by the Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which Hann chairs. No action has yet been taken by the House.

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin characterized U.S. monetary policy as "hooliganism" in his annual address to the Russian Parliament Wednesday.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal:

"Look at their trade balance, their debt, and budget. They turn on the printing press and flood the entire dollar zone -- in other words, the whole world -- with government bonds. There is no way we will act this way anytime soon. We don't have the luxury of such hooliganism," he said.

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Tea Partiers may say the government is too damn big, but when it comes to at least two federal entitlement programs, they sing a wholly different tune.

In a McClatchy-Marist poll released this week, 70% of registered voters who identify with the Tea Party opposed making cuts to either Medicare or Medicaid -- the government-run health programs for the elderly and the poor -- to help reduce the nation's deficit. Meanwhile, only 28% of tea partiers said they'd be willing to cut spending on those two programs.

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), architect of the House GOP's budget, drew a resounding chorus of boos at a town hall appearance in his district after touting the benefits of tax cuts for the wealthy.

In a video posted by ThinkProgress, an attendee at the event this week told Ryan that he believes the rich should pay higher taxes to help close the deficit and strengthen Social Security.

"The middle class is disappearing right now," he said. "During this time of prosperity, the top 1 percent was taking about 10 percent of the total annual income, but yet today we are fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire?"

Ryan protested that "We do tax the top," before being drowned out by the audience's jeers.

Polls have shown increasing taxes on the wealthy enjoys strong public support across the political spectrum despite near-universal opposition from GOP lawmakers. Democrats have been hammering Republicans on the issue in recent weeks, jumping off Ryan's budget proposal, which cuts taxes for the rich while making major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

As the debate about how to deal with the federal deficit heats up, two new polls show that large, bipartisan majorities of Americans support raising taxes on the wealthy, as President Obama has proposed doing.

A central piece of Obama's deficit reduction plan calls for raising taxes on annual income above $250,000. Though tax hikes are generally thought to be unpopular, both a Washington Post/ABC News poll and a McClatchy-Marist survey found that a majority of Americans supported that proposal. What's more, even a majority of Republicans in the Washington Post/ABC News poll said they favored raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

In addition, both polls found Americans overwhelmingly opposed to a deficit reduction plan pushed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that would ultimately privatize Medicare, the federal healthcare program for the elderly. Taken together, those findings show that in the looming deficit debate, Obama may hold an edge in public opinion.

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