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Berkshire Hathaway CEO (and Forbes second wealthiest American in 2010) Warren Buffett penned an assertive op-ed in Monday's New York Times calling for the congressional "super-committee" assigned to draft a debt reduction plan to raise taxes on the "super rich". The piece did not mention any members of congress or political parties by name but was highly critical of the structure of the U.S. tax code.

Buffett called for a plan that would,"leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged", and "raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more -- there were 8,274 in 2009 -- I would suggest an additional increase in rate."

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It's the middle of August, members of Congress are at home, and the traditional thinking is that most of America is on vacation, whether they've physically left their homes or not. But it seems that whatever the theory about who is paying attention, President Obama is seeing a downward trend in his approval rating, which just hit another low.

Obama registered 39% approval in the daily Gallup tracking poll from Sunday, which is made up of interviews of adult Americans from the three days prior to release (Thursday-Friday-Saturday of last week). It was also the first time the President has dipped below the forty percent threshold.

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

The venerable Toyota Prius has been around for over a decade now, first as an awkward but fuel-efficient sedan, then a geeky hatchback and soon a platform in its own right.

But while Toyota is now putting the Hybrid Synergy Drive technology from the Prius into a whole range of vehicles from tiny city hatchbacks to full-sized luxury SUVs, there are some things that the Toyota Prius is not meant to be.

If you dare, here are five increasingly bizarre things we've seen the humble Toyota Prius turned into: The convertible Prius, the Prius limousine, the "Pimus", the Prius Pickup and the Morris Minus.

Read, enjoy and see what terrible travesties can befall someone who can weld. Just don't copy them, okay?

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The debt ceiling fight turned out to be a damper on the American economy, and for the approval ratings of political leaders in Washington. But it's starting to consume the same political entity that decided to make raising it a major issue: the Tea Party. Last week saw the release of three separate polls that showed Americans are not just more skeptical of their movement, but growing tired of their role in the political process, which builds on previous evidence that the Tea Party is being pushed away by independent voters.

The Tea Party movement, as an idea, was originally about anger at the way things turned out after 2008. Congress had been taken over by Democrats, and President Obama came into office after a change election with high approval ratings and the political capital to make that change. Then, surprisingly, those Democrats didn't work to enact Republican policies, they proposed and passed a few of their own. This was not how government is supposed to work, according to some very conservative Americans.

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We now know who's serving on the 12-member deficit Super Committee this fall. We know who the two co-chairs will be, we know many if not all of the requirements it must meet, and we know what happens if it fails.

Which means we know the battle lines and can project with some certainty how the fight will play out.

Of the six Democrats on the committee, most if not all have publicly proclaimed they'll support certain cuts to Medicare and Medicaid -- particularly if they fall hardest on providers and not beneficiaries -- but only if Republicans are willing to accept some "meaningful" new tax revenues.

Of course, all of the six Republicans have pledged never to support tax increases, and most if not all have demonstrated extreme reluctance over raising any revenues at all, including from loophole closures that benefit extremely few privileged individuals and businesses.

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With the American economy stuck in neutral, there has to be someone to blame. Wall Street has certainly taken the brunt of criticism in the last few years, mostly because the financial sector almost went down and then the taxpayers had to bail them out. But recent major economic crises aside, the longer term economic complaint has been trade.

The argument is mainly that as America loses our manufacturing base to other countries (and for many reasons, this point is most associated with China), our more service based economy can't replace the jobs for laborers from that sector. In other words, giving a laid off autoworker a gig at Starbucks isn't really comparable, and it contributes to underemployment.

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Rick Perry's officially joined the cast of the 2012 Republican primary, which means it's time for national audiences to start reading up on his decade-plus tenure as Texas' longest serving governor. One word you're going to be hearing a lot about in the early running: Gardasil.

As in Gardasil, the vaccine developed several years ago to treat against HPV, a virus that can eventually lead to cervical cancer. An effort to introduce the drug into Texas schools turned into one of Perry's greatest defeats, an exceptional episode in that it pitted the governor, renowned for his ability to closely read his base, strongly against the religious right.

"He's pretty clearly a social conservative in the Michele Bachmann camp, but you just can't nail him down all of the time," Bob Stein, a professor of political science at Rice University, told TPM. "He will surprise you."

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Fresh off her win at the Iowa straw poll, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on Sunday launched a media blitz on the morning talk shows.



For the most part, Bachmann stayed on message, calling for the repeal of "Obamacare" and reigning in government spending. But an interesting moment came when Meet The Press host David Gregory challenged Bachmann's position on homosexuality.

It's no secret Bachmann isn't the biggest fan of gays. But when Gregory played a clip of Bachmann saying homosexuality leads to "personal enslavement" and "bondage," she responded simply by saying "I am running for the presidency of the United States."

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