TPM News

The Florida Education Association on Monday filed a class action lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) and several administrators with oversight over a state retirement fund, alleging that they violated teachers' existing contracts with an "unconstitutional" 3% pay cut imposed by the recently-passed budget.

In the suit, the FEA claims that the state made backdoor cuts to teachers' salaries in the new budget by forcing them to begin paying 3% of their earnings into a retirement fund as a way to reduce the government's obligation to pay into that pool. The suit argues that the change reneges on promises made in the current contracts, and is therefore illegal.

"This pay cut was used by legislative leadership to make up a budget shortfall on the backs of teachers, law-enforcement officers, firefighters and other state workers," said FEA President Andy Ford in a statement posted to the FEA's website. "It is essentially an income tax levied only on workers belonging to the Florida Retirement System.

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In a private conference call with a handful of university students across the country, GOP Presidential hopeful -- and President Obama's former Ambassador to China -- Jon Huntsman argued in support of one of the most far-reaching, controversial elements of the conservative political agenda.

As first reported in a broader piece by the Huffington Post, Huntsman argued in favor of a constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to maintain a balanced budget -- an innocuous-sounding, but radical plan pushed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and numerous other congressional conservatives.

"We're going to have to fight for a balanced budget amendment," Huntsman said. "Every governor in this country has a balanced budget amendment. It keeps everybody honest. It's the best safeguard imaginable."

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Newt Gingrich's campaign appears to still be reeling from the mass resignation of many top staffers a week and a half ago. As the Des Moines Register reports, Gingrich has yet to put in place new staff in the key caucus state of Iowa.

Gingrich's entire paid Iowa staff were among the mass resignations. Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told the Register that the campaign is searching for a new staff, but declined to discuss any specifics.

Meanwhile, the paper had trouble finding any prominent evidence of the staff search -- and instead found evidence that key Iowa GOP activists are not taking the campaign seriously.

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Andrew Breitbart says he saved Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) from an inevitable extortion scandal when he helped publicize the graphic tweet that led to Weiner's downfall.

Breitbart gleefully took partial credit for Weiner's resignation in his speech at the RightOnline conference in Minneapolis this weekend. In an impromptu interview, Breitbart says that he holds all sex scandal-plagued politicians in the same negative light, regardless of party.

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The Obama administration is pushing back against GOP claims on the campaign trail, including those of frontrunner Mitt Romney, that the White House's economic policies are failing.

A report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers released Monday shows foreign direct investment in the U.S. surging with a 49 percent increase in 2010 from 2009 levels in the nadir of the financial crisis.

In an e-mailed statement, President Obama touted his administration's "open investment policy," arguing that it has helped spur economic growth and job creation.

"By voting with their balance sheets, businesses from abroad have clearly stated that the United States is one of the best places in the world to invest," Obama said in the statement.

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While a district judge considers whether to grant a preliminary injunction against a new law that seeks to strip Indiana Planned Parenthood of federal funding, the non-profit has taken another hit: the organization recently learned that its application for the 2011 Neighborhood Assistance Program was rejected by Indiana's Housing and Community Development Authority.

The Neighborhood Assistance Program lets nonprofits leverage contributions from individuals. Donors participating in the program receive a tax credit worth half their donation on their state income taxes.

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He's baaaack! After his ouster from MSNBC in late January, progressive pundit Keith Olbermann will debut his new Countdown on Current TV Monday night.

The show has bagged a number of high-profile guest hosts and commentators. David Shuster will be Olbermann's primary stand-in, according to a Current release from Friday. Other frequent contributors will include Rolling Stone's Matt Taibi, Mother Jones' Kate Shappard, and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean among others.

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