TPM News

Republicans are poised to undermine one portion of the health care reform law without much of a fight -- and with the help of some Democrats -- unless Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) gets his way.

Menendez is undertaking a last-ditch effort to prevent the GOP from clawing back billions of dollars in subsidies to middle class insurance consumers, provided under the health care reform law.

Several weeks ago, it looked like the GOP would get its way. The official purpose was to use that money to repeal a tax-reporting requirement for businesses, also in the law. That so-called "1099 provision" raises money but also the ire of the business community.

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Longtime Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is facing a tough primary challenge from Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who claims he has one very high up supporter behind his insurgency: Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

The Indiana governor has said he plans to vote for Lugar, whom he used to serve as an aide, but Mourdock says that his decision to run was heavily encouraged by Daniels.

"Before I decided to do this, he and I had three different conversations about it," Mourdock told Hotline On Call in an interview. "And every time, he said, 'Richard Mourdock, don't you ever, ever, ever let anyone tell you don't have every right to do this. You've earned the right. You worked 31 years in the business world. We don't have that kind of experience very often in Washington."

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Sen. Dick Durbin said Tuesday that statements from a "chorus of harsh voices" -- specifically Rep. Peter King (R-NY), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Rev. Franklin Graham -- create "a fertile climate for discrimination" against American Muslims.

Durbin is chairing the first-ever congressional hearing on the civil rights of American Muslims, which the Illinois Democrat's office said was held in response to the "rise in anti-Muslim bigotry over the last year including Quran burnings, restrictions on mosque construction, hate crimes, hate speech, and other forms of discrimination."

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National progressive groups are launching a new series of television ads in Wisconsin calling for the recall of Republican state senators.

The new $100,000 campaign by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America comes on the heels of weeks of spending by the two groups hoping to boot some of the senators who voted to kill collective bargaining for thousands of state workers at the urging of Gov. Scott Walker (R).

The new ads will run on broadcast and cable in the Milwaukee and Green Bay media markets. As with past Wisconsin ad campaigns by the PCCC/DFA partnership, the size and scope of the campaign will be determined by online donations. Each group has about 25,000 members in Wisconsin and the pair have around 1.7 million members nationwide.

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Newt Gingrich warned churchgoers on Monday that an unholy (semi-holy?) combination of Islamic theocrats and secular atheists could seize control of the United States within decades.

"I have two grandchildren -- Maggie is 11, Robert is 9," Gingrich said at a church in Texas, according to Politico. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

Gingrich made the remarks at the evangelical Cornerstone Church, which is led by Pastor John Hagee. Hagee became a controversial figure in the 2008 elections after John McCain publicly accepted -- and then rejected -- his endorsement despite comments by the religious leader condemning the Catholic Church as "the great whore" and suggesting Hitler was sent by God to move Jews to Israel and hasten the apocalypse. Gingrich converted to Catholicism in 2009.

Update: Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler e-mailed Salon to clarify that Newt was warning either atheists OR Islamists could take over America, not that the two will join forces. "'Or' should have come before the word 'potentially,'" Tyler wrote.

A free enterprise think tank in Michigan -- backed by some of the biggest names in national conservative donor circles -- has made a broad public records request to at least three in-state universities with departments that specialize in the study of labor relations, seeking all their emails regarding the union battle in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, TPM has learned.

According to professors subject to the request, filed under Michigan's version of the Freedom Of Information Act, the request is extremely rare in academic circles. An employee at the think tank requesting the emails tells TPM they're part of an investigation into what labor studies professors at state schools in Michigan are saying about the situation in Madison, Wisc., the epicenter of the clashes between unions and Republican-run state governments across the Midwest.

One professor subject to the FOIA described it as anti-union advocates "going after folks they don't agree with."

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Michael Moore and Stephen Colbert couldn't agree on much of anything last night, as they repeatedly tried to correct each other throughout an interview on the Colbert Report.

"Why are public sector unions attacking Republican governors around the United States?" Colbert asked at the start of the interview.

"I think it's the other way around," Moore began.

"That's not how I framed it," Colbert interjected.

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Jon Stewart was befuddled last night by a report that General Electric had paid no federal taxes in 2010 despite many commentators' claims that an oppressive corporate tax rate was killing jobs in America.

"But I thought the corporate tax rate had to be lowered?" Stewart asked. "And I'm not sure you can lower it from nothing."

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Republicans Upset With Obama's Regime Change Remarks CNN reports: "When U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday it would be wrong to seek regime change in Libya by force, Republican lawmakers took issue -- saying removing Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi is and should be precisely the goal."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET. He will depart from the White House at 1 p.m. ET, and depart from Andrews Air Force Base at 1:15 p.m. ET, arriving at 2:05 p.m. ET in New York, NY. He will deliver remarks at 4:45 p.m. ET, at the dedication of the Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations Building. He will deliver remarks at a DNC event at 7 p.m. ET , and at another DNC event at 9:05 p.m. He will depart from New York at 10:10 p.m. ET, arrive at Andrews Air Force Base at 11 p.m. ET, and arrive back at the White House at 11:10 p.m. ET.

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