TPM News

Anthem Blue Cross announced yesterday that it is scrapping its request for a premium rate hike. The Obama administration, which had used Anthem's proposed hike of up to 39% to illustrate the evils of the insurance industry, celebrated the announcement -- and took some of the credit.

"Today's announcement is good news for the more than 800,000 Californians who could have been hit with massive rate increases and gives them some much-needed temporary relief," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement yesterday. "This result was achieved because those who oversee the insurance industry on the state and federal levels heard these voices, held investigations, and demanded action."

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Republicans like their chances this fall when it comes to scooping up prime Senate seats across the country. They are playing offense on a wide map, leading in eight seats held by Democrats and successfully defending all the GOP seats on their own turf.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is feeling good about the races in Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, North Dakota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Delaware, where their polling shows the GOP leading Democratic candidates and incumbents.

Check out all the latest TPM poll averages for these races here. Bottom line - the Democrats are trailing but in many cases their Republican opponent hasn't yet been chosen. In some of the races -- Colorado, Arkansas, Indiana in particular -- the Republicans are engaged in bitter intraparty fights that could ultimately help the Democrats once the field is settled.

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Jon Stewart just can't help himself when it comes to the UK election debates, or as he calls it, the "Clustershag to 10 Downing." Last night, he imitated Gordon Brown's criticism of his opponents, complete with British accent:

"David, your fish have no chips, Nick your bangers have no mash, and if I may say, both David and Nick, your dicks, both spotted. All right, let's move on."

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The new Rasmussen poll of the Illinois Senate race finds Republican Rep. Mark Kirk expanding his lead over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in the race for President Obama's former Senate seat -- a sign that the failure of Giannoulias's family bank could possibly endanger this seat for the Dems.

The numbers: Kirk 46%, Giannoulias 38%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. Three weeks ago, before the bank's closure, Kirk had a much narrower lead of 41%-37% in Rasmussen's polling. In addition, Kirk's favorable rating is 52% to 31% unfavorable, compared to Giannoulias's 42%-47% rating.

The TPM Poll Average for this race gives Kirk a lead of 42.3%-35.5%.

With less than a month to go until Arkansas' May 18 Democratic primary, SEIU is ramping up its attacks on Sen. Blanche Lincoln with a new million dollar ad campaign attacking the senator over votes for free trade deals.

The ads feature a worker at an Arkansas' Cooper Tire plant claiming Lincoln's support of NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade deals meant pay cuts for workers at his factory.

Organized labor helped Lincon's primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, get into the race in March, citing Lincoln's opposition to card check and other labor legislative priorities. With the $1 million buy, it's clear that SEIU plans to help Halter get to the finish line as well.

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Prosecutors seeking to keep the Hutaree locked up without bail Thursday released secretly recorded tapes of the militia members discussing attacks on police, the Detroit News reports.

Hutaree leader David Stone is heard on the tapes, recorded by an undercover FBI agent in February, talking about local police as an appealing target.

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House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today was adamant that some of the more popular parts of health care reform that the Democrats have been touting were actually Republican ideas, despite repeatedly saying in the past that no Republican ideas had been incorporated into the plan.

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Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who bolted the Republican primary for Senate yesterday to run for Senate, has now made it clear that he is an independent, not a Republican -- and he's not exactly being clear on which party he would caucus with if he makes it to the Senate.

Crist told the St. Petersburg Times that he will not keep his Republican registration, and he will instead change to independent. "Why not? If you're going to do it, do it. Let's go!," said Crist.

Which party would he caucus with, the paper asked? "The people of Florida," said Crist. "I'll caucus with anybody who will help the people of Florida."

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On Good Morning America this morning, White House adviser David Axelrod said that the Obama administration's controversial plan to allow more offshore oil drilling is on hold in the wake of the massive spill in the gulf of Mexico.

"No additional drilling has been authorized and none will until we find out what happened here, and whether there was something unique and preventable here," Axelrod told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

Axelrod also discussed the new Arizona immigration law on GMA. See video of the whole conversation after the jump.

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