TPM News

Outgoing SEIU President Andy Stern, who sits on President Obama's fiscal reform commission, says entitlement programs, as well as taxes should be on the table as members weigh various ways to reduce long-term deficits and debt.

In a letter to President Obama and fellow commission members, obtained by TPMDC, Stern takes the somewhat surprising position that entitlement programs including Social Security should be on the table--but only if changes enhance retirement security for again Americans.

"I agree with many Commissioners who have said that all entitlement programs should be on the table, Stern writes. "We should include tax entitlements as part of that conversation."

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As if Republican Sue Lowden's chicken-bartering health care plan wasn't bad enough, her campaign chief is now suggesting that everyone in Lowden's state already has health care -- in the emergency room.

Robert Uithoven, the campaign chief for Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden, said on journalist Jon Ralston's TV show that if you have an emergency -- like, say, a bullet hole in your chest -- you already have taxpayer-funded health care.

"Should everybody have access to health care in this country?" guest host Jeff Gillan asked.

"Absolutely, they do," Uithoven said.

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Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) was speaking at an NRSC retreat over the weekend when he apparently thought it was the right time to try out a joke about President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) all drowning.

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a hard-liner on immigration, ended speculation today and announced he will not run for Arizona governor.

"I am humbled by the encouragement and outpouring of support for me to run for Governor. However, at the same time, so many have supported my campaign for re-election that I do not want to betray them by running for another office," Arpaio said in a press release.

"Right now, we are standing in the cross-hairs of history in this state and as Sheriff of the most populous county in Arizona, there is much work yet to do," he added.

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Michele Davis, spokeswoman for former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, now emails to say there was no pressure from the White House to keep crucial information about the looming financial crisis from Congress.

"[N]o one at Treasury ever felt in any way constrained by the White House from communicating with the Congress," she writes.

More adamantly, Tony Fratto, who served as Deputy Press Secretary to President George W. Bush, says Pelosi's claim is inaccurate. "No one was barred from briefing Congress," he emails. "Congressional leaders were briefed, at President Bush's direction, right after he was briefed. It's pretty clear from every account of that week that Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner were trying to prevent what eventually ensued. As soon as the fallout was clear -- and, in fact, in ways no one anticipated (like the money markets breaking the buck), they went first to the President, and then directly to congressional leaders."

Alphonso Jackson, the former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development who resigned amid allegations of extreme cronyism, has been cleared by the Justice Department after a three-year investigation.

Jackson's lawyer told the Washington Post that the DOJ has closed its investigation into Jackson without pressing charges. The DOJ didn't comment.

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