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House Republicans recoiled Wednesday evening from President Obama's speech on America's budget woes. After spending most of the week pre-empting the address, and rejecting its expected calls for tax increases on wealthy Americans, Republicans endured a broad and severe critique of their vision for the country.

Their responses thus edged beyond substance into the realm of personal grievance. Indeed, they implied that the speech may have poisoned the well so much that working together where common ground exists might now be impossible.

"I missed lunch for this?" complained Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chair of the House GOP conference, at a Capitol press conference shortly after the address.

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The Republicans running (or almost running) for president are less than enthused by the deficit reduction solutions offered up by the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

After President Obama's much anticipated Wednesday speech on spending, the cadre of pols vying for the Republican presidential nomination littered inboxes with their statements on the address.

They were not impressed.

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In an attempt to give Americans more control over how their personal information is collected and used on the Internet, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ), introduced a bill to protect consumers' online privacy on Tuesday.

The Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 would create a framework for how companies can collect, store and distribute personal information, and would require companies to employ security measures to protect that information. Companies would also need to tell individuals how and why they are collecting information, make it easier to opt-out, and in some cases, make the default for sharing sensitive data opt-in.

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When 14 Somali pirates boarded the yacht S/V Quest in February and took four Americans hostage, the feds say they were aided by a 15th man who used the Internet to research the hostages and their families.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin, also known as "Khalif Ahmed Shibin," was indicted by a federal grand jury in Norfolk, Va., back on March 8, but the indictment remained under seal until he was captured and made an appearance in federal court Wednesday.

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House GOP budget guru Paul Ryan opposed President Obama's deficit commission because it refused to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now he's predicting the same issue will scuttle any hopes of achieving the kind of grand bipartisan deal that Obama called for in his speech on Wednesday.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal shortly before Obama's speech, Ryan said that he held out hope only for modest deficit deals with the other side.

"Because we have such a difference of opinion on health care, it's hard to imagine we're going to have a global agreement," Ryan said. "Everyone wants to get a grand slam, but maybe we can get a single or a double."

Only hours later, Obama called for both parties to hammer out a comprehensive long-term deficit plan by June, a goal that seems far-fetched based on the early reaction from GOP leaders.

Ryan suggested that the two parties may come together on Social Security, but he conceded that the program was not a major contributor to the debt compared to other areas.

"Social Security is the one area where I think we're not too many worlds apart," he said.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday, nearly seven in ten Americans say the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since Obama took office.

That finding caps three months of diminishing confidence in where the nation is headed, a sharp downward trend that began back in mid January, shortly after the new Congress was sworn in.

In the poll, 69% of Americans said they think the country is headed in the wrong direction, versus just 25% who said the country was headed in the right direction. Those results resemble the current TPM Poll Average, which shows that 67.7% of Americans believe the country is heading in a negative direction, while 25.7% believe the opposite.

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Shortly after President Obama finished delivering his speech on deficit reduction, semi-official Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty offered a short response: "Today's speech was nothing more than window dressing."

He then launched into a full-throated attack on the other big government spending story moving on Capitol Hill on Wednesday: the vote for the shutdown-averting 2011 budget deal forged by Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and, of course, the leaders of Pawlenty's own party in the House last week.

"The more we learn about" that deal, Pawlenty said, "the worse it looks."

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President Obama extended an invitation to Republicans in his speech today to hammer out a bipartisan deficit agreement within months, but Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he'll hold tight to Paul Ryan's budget instead.

"Unsustainable debt and deficits threaten the prosperity of our children and the health and retirement security of our seniors," Boehner said in a statement after Obama's speech. "Republicans, led by Chairman Ryan, have set the bar with a jobs budget that puts us on a path to paying down the debt and preserves Medicare and Medicaid for the future. This afternoon, I didn't hear a plan to match it from the President."

Boehner went on to decry "promises, hollow targets, and Washington commissions" and reiterated GOP demands that any deficit plan not include tax increases. Obama, for his part, strongly condemned the Ryan plan in his speech for lowering taxes for the wealthy while simultaneously cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits. So let's just say the President's goal of a bipartisan deal by June might be a tad optimistic. Full statement after the jump.

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President Obama outlined his plan to cut $4 trillion from the deficit over the course of the next 12 years through a combination of targeted spending cuts and tax increases that would allow the nation to balance its books and retain its "generous and compassionate" values.

In a 43-minute speech at George Washington University Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Obama said Republicans and Democrats both share the goal of getting the country's fiscal house in order but have starkly different approaches to doing so, arguing that his is more balanced by spreading sacrifices across the board and including tax increases for the wealthiest Americans.

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