TPM News

Glenn Beck is a lightning rod for attention of all sorts, and while he might be getting lower ratings from a year ago, is Fox News really considering life without him? That's the suggestion made by the NY Times' David Carr who cites anonymous Fox News officials, "that they are looking at the end of his contract in December and contemplating life without Mr. Beck." If accurate, then such a meteoric rise and fall might even put Keith Olbermann to shame, yet could it really be true?

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In the coming days, Republicans could quietly weaken the health care law by imposing a major financial burden on middle-class consumers, without even having to put up a fight. And privately, Democratic sources in both chambers say they fear that the Senate Democratic leadership won't go to bat to prevent it.

The issue arises because of a bipartisan consensus that one financing provision in the law -- the so-called 1099 provision -- should be repealed. Bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate have voted to strike the measure, which requires businesses to report all transactions with vendors in excess of $600 to the IRS. Lax reporting requirements cost the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars a year.

So there are costs associated with repealing that provision that both sides agree have to be made up elsewhere. How you make up those costs is where the disagreement is? One option under serious consideration has backers of health care reform sweating bullets.

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The U.S. Army is getting rid of its "pen and paper" and "string and stick" method of tracking fuel use in Afghanistan after nearly a decade of mismanagement, theft and fraud resulting in what is likely hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in lost fuel, some of which is sold on the black market and has ended up in Taliban hands.

The highest levels of the U.S. military have deep concerns about the rampant robbery, and the U.S. Army this week is beginning to implement, base by base in Afghanistan, a computerized accounting system aimed at making it easier to track the disappearing fuel.

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Wisconsin state Senate Democrats, who have fled the state in order to block budget quorum on Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union proposals, are walking back reports in the Wall Street Journal that they plan to return to the state.

"We are now looking at returning to the state capitol and requiring the senators to take a vote and have them declare who they're with -- the workers or the governor," Minority Leader Mark Miller told the Journal.

A return to Wisconsin at this juncture would appear to give the green light for Walker's legislation to pass -- that is, a win for Walker's efforts to pass legislation when numerous polls show the state disapproving of Walker, and saying he should compromise. However, at this juncture it is unclear just what is going on.

In response, Miller spokesman Mike Browne released this statement, saying only that they were continuing to negotiate towards an outcome that does not strip the bargaining rights of state workers:

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Yet another poll in Wisconsin, this time commissioned by a free-market think tank, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, shows voters disapproving of Gov. Scott Walker, and saying he should compromise on his budget proposal and its anti-public employee union provisions. Furthermore, the key groups with whom Walker is jousting -- Democrats in the state legislature, public employee unions in general, teachers' unions in particular -- all have significantly better favorable ratings than he does.

It should be noted that WPRI's polling, despite the organization's ideological bent, is often cited in Wisconsin's media as a reliable survey, and is conducted by UW-Madison political science professor Ken Goldstein. This demographically weighted poll of Wisconsin adults was conducted from February 27-March 1, and has a ±4% margin of error.

Walker's overall approval ratings and personal favorable numbers are identical, at 43% approval/favorable to 53% disapproval/unfavorable, with only some internal variation between the "strongly" and "somewhat" sub-categories in each.

By contrast, the favorable-unfavorable numbers for the Democrats in the legislature -- who are most famous now for the minority state Senate Dems, who have fled the state in order to block budget quorum on the proposals -- stand at 50%-42%. The public employee unions' favorables are 59%-34%, and teachers' unions are at 59%-36%.

The only bad number for the state Senate Dems came on a question that directly asked about their fleeing the state: "Do you approve or disapprove of Senate Democrats' decision to leave the state in order to prevent the passage of the budget repair bill that would reduce public employee benefits and change collective bargaining rights?" Here the answer was a very close approve 47%, disapprove 51%.

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Daley: People Talk About No-Fly Zone As If It Were A 'Video Game' Appearing on Meet The Press, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley criticized those who call for a no-fly zone in Libya: "Well, you know, lots of people throw around phrases of 'no-fly zone,' and they talk about it as though it's just a game on a video game or something, and some people who throw, throw that line out have no idea what they're talking about," said Daley. "Bob Gates understands the difficulty of going to war. This is a man who spent his--almost his entire life working for the government. He, he knows the difficulty of war and the challenges, as does Admiral Mullen. So when, when people comment on military action, most of them have no idea what they're talking about."

McCain: Qaddafi 'Insane,' A No-Fly Zone Can Send Message To People Around Him Appearing on This Week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) reiterated his support for a no-fly zone as part of an effort to oust Muammar Qaddafi. He's insane. But perhaps the people around him would begin to depart the sinking ship," said McCain. He also added: "Again, by a no-fly zone, by declaring our support for a provisional government, perhaps, which is being formed up now - there is a lot of steps we can take."

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) says that, yes, President Obama is running "a gangster government." And, yeah, he probably doesn't like America very much either.

Appearing this morning on Meet The Press, Bachmann refused to back away from some of her stronger anti-Obama rhetoric. Confronted with her past statements about Obama, Bachmann -- the chair of the House Tea Party Caucus and a potential Republican contender for the White House next year -- essentially doubled down, declining to answer questions about her perceived "extremism."

"I don't take back my statement on gangster government," she said. "I think that there have been actions that have been taken by this government that I think are corrupt, thoroughly corrupt."

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Famed progressive and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore was among the highlights at rallies inside and outside of the state capitol in Madison, Wisc. Saturday.

According to reports on the ground, Moore rallied "thousands" with a rousing speech that focused on "three major lies" of the "past decade."

"Wisconsin is broke. There are weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq,] and the Packers need (Brett) Favre to win the Super Bowl," Moore said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"The country is awash in wealth and cash," Moore said to the crowd of union members and their supporters. "It's just not in your hands."

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Obama Calls For 'Sitting At The Same Table' On Spending Cuts In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama called for a bipartisan dialogue on spending cuts.

"We need to come together, Democrats and Republicans, around a long-term budget that sacrifices wasteful spending without sacrificing the job-creating investments in our future," said Obama. "My administration has already put forward specific cuts that meet congressional Republicans halfway. And I'm prepared to do more. But we'll only finish the job together - by sitting at the same table, working out our differences, and finding common ground. That's why I've asked Vice President Biden and members of my Administration to meet with leaders of Congress going forward."

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Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) has now taken the latest step in his effort to pass his budget proposal and its anti-public employee union provisions: Sending out layoff notices to the state employee unions. However, nobody is fired just yet.

Instead, Walker says the terminations could happen as early as April 4 -- but can be avoided if the state Senate Democrats who fled the state in order to block the three-fifths budget quorum will just come back.

As WisPolitics reports:

According to the guv's office, individual employees will get a notice at least two weeks before their layoff takes effect.

Walker's office also noted in a statement that "if the Senate Democrats come back to Wisconsin, these notices may be able to be rescinded and layoffs avoided. Without Senate action within 15 days, individual employees may begin to receive potential termination notifications."

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