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The staff of Americans For Tax Reform were briefly evacuated from their DC headquarters this morning as police responded to a bomb threat against the building. No explosives were found and the staff has returned to work.

The call came in around 9:10 Monday morning, according to a police spokesperson contacted by TPM. The officer could not say how long the staff was evacuated but said police had allowed them to return to work by the time we called at around 11:00 AM.

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Republicans have been tight-lipped so far about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's surprise offer of $2.7 trillion in spending cuts -- and no tax revenue -- to raise the debt limit through 2012.



There are a few reasons for that. First, as Red State's Erick Erickson subtly pointed out, Republicans were not expecting to wake up to headlines noting that Reid's offering more immediate cuts than House Speaker John Boehner's proposing. Second, because about a trillion of those dollars comes from the expected wind down of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- a source of savings Republicans have recently opposed but, oops, voted for in the House GOP budget.

But another reason, according to one senior GOP aide is that Reid decided to go it alone pretty abruptly, and they haven't seen his proposal yet.

"The Speaker, Sen. Reid and Sen. [Mitch] McConnell all agreed on the general framework of a two-part plan," the aide says. "A short-term increase (with cuts greater than the increase), combined with a committee to find long-term savings before the rest of the increase would be considered. Sen. Reid took the bipartisan plan to the White House and the President said no."

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Just after the 2010 elections produced a new balance in Washington, as the House went from a strong Democratic majority to an equally sturdy GOP one, as the Senate added new members who carried the mantle of the Tea Party (Sen. Rand Paul) and the Club for Growth (Sen. Pat Toomey), there was talk of the debt ceiling. Would these hard charging conservatives vote for an increase in government's ability to borrow? That question would kick-start a national debate over the deficit, and many months later, we are staring both at that very debt ceiling and the possibility of an over-arching reduction in spending.

With all the talk of debt obligations, default, markets crashing and general economic collapse, came the notion that the debt issue needed to be resolved not just for fiscal reasons, but for geopolitical ones. It was common to hear insinuations that foreign governments were collecting American debt and storing it away, weakening our economic power as we leveraged ourselves more and more. We signed up for a VISA card from the Bank of China, and we maxed it out, so we are told. But that is totally incorrect.

Well, it's 92% incorrect.

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Michele Bachmann's migraines may be under control, but she's doing her best to pass them on to Tim Pawlenty instead. The Tea Party icon slammed the former Minnesota governor in a series of statements on Monday, comparing his policies to President Obama's.

"Actions speak louder than words," she said. "When I was fighting against the unconstitutional individual mandate in healthcare, Governor Pawlenty was praising it. I have fought against irresponsible spending while Governor Pawlenty was leaving a multi-billion-dollar budget mess in Minnesota. I fought cap-and-trade. Governor Pawlenty backed cap-and-trade when he was Governor of Minnesota and put Minnesota into the multi-state Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. While Governor Pawlenty was praising TARP -- the $700 billion bailout in 2008 -- I worked tirelessly against it and voted against it."

Bachmann's outburst did not come out of the blue: Pawlenty has been baiting her for weeks with a series of attacks aimed at knocking her off her frontrunner perch in must-win Iowa. While his criticisms primarily focused on her lack of accomplishments in Congress and her dearth of executive experience, Pawlenty upped the ante last week by becoming the only presidential candidate to suggest his rival's chronic migraines -- a very sensitive subject for Team Bachmann -- were potentially disqualifying. He has since walked those comments back somewhat.

In her statement, Bachmann explicitly rebutted Pawlenty's claims that his record as governor made him the more qualified candidate.

"Executive experience is not an asset if it simply means bigger and more intrusive government," she said. "Governor Pawlenty said in 2006, 'The era of small government is over... the government has to be more proactive and more aggressive.' That's the same philosophy that, under President Obama, has brought us record deficits, massive unemployment, and an unconstitutional health care plan."

Politically, it's not clear what Bachmann's going for. Pawlenty has barely registered in polling so far and by unleashing her full clip at the governor, she elevates him as a legitimate contender right as we was starting to fade from view. Bachmann's campaign manager Ed Rollins suggested that Pawlenty may have simply pushed her too far, telling the Washington Post she "just [got] tired of [Pawlenty] taking cheap shots... Even if he's at 2 percent in the polls, we are not going to let anyone take free shots at us."

The words "memory" and "Jell-O" usually don't go together, especially when talking about data storage.

But that's the analogy North Carolina State University researchers are using to describe their soft, rubbery proof-of-concept memory device.

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The labor-backed group We Are Wisconsin has a new round of ads in the state Senate recalls - including one spot that might raise some eyebrows, targeting Republican state Sen. Randy Hopper.

In addition to the backlash against Gov. Scott Walker's ultra-conservative policies, Hopper is also facing his own political headaches due to a messy divorce -- and claims by his estranged wife that he "now lives mostly in Madison" after having an affair.

"When it comes to standing up for Wisconsin families, Randy Hopper is leaving us behind," the announcer says. "Hopper supported Governor Walker's budget that slashed nearly 800 million from our schools. He supported devastating cuts to seniors' health care. And Hopper voted to raise taxes on middle-class families.

"But who didn't get left behind by Senator Hopper? Big corporations and the super-rich, who got 200 million in tax breaks.

"Put middle-class families first, and send Hopper home."

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Congressional leaders failed Sunday to reach agreement on a plausible path to raise the country's borrowing limit ahead of international market openings on Monday. At least publicly.

According to sources in both parties, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are likely to introduce separate debt packages in their respective chambers Monday, each with a different approach to avoiding a catastrophic default, and the key question now is whether the two plans can be reconciled in some way -- whether the trains are moving in the same direction or set to collide head on.

Reid sought to answer that question in a late Sunday statement, ripping the GOP for its continued insistence that the debt limit fight be raised in two condition-laden steps, forcing Congress to replay this same fight in several months.

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