TPM News

Wisconsin Republicans won big this week, with their newly-passed law curtailing public employee unions overcoming a court challenge brought on the procedures used to pass it. Now that months of wrangling over its passage are behind us, what will the law's impact actually be?

As readers might recall, the law was passed in the name of fiscal austerity, requiring public employees to make greater contributions to their health care and pensions. But much more than that, it has removed most collective bargaining rights for public employees, exempting only police and firefighters. It also now requires public employee unions to win certification elections every year, with 50%-plus-one support of all eligible voting employees (not just those participating in the election), and bars automatic collection of union dues from employees' paychecks. So overall, it is a powerful tool for the Walker administration to break the unions.

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Newt Gingrich has found one issue Americans of all political stripes can come together over: their mutual dislike of him.

When the race to 2012 first started to gain steam early this year, Gingrich was seen as a viable contender, a big-name Republican with a strong brand and the cash to back a White House bid. But after a bungled rollout marred by gaffes and controversies, the always polarizing Gingrich has alienated not just Democrats, but his own party as well.

Over the past few months -- essentially, shortly after he made his campaign official -- Gingrich's favorability rating has plummeted with Republicans.

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Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) says he's found the one thing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) doesn't flip-flop on: grabbing power by any means necessary.

"I cannot think of a public policy" Romney hasn't changed positions on, Frank said in a blistering interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "The only consistent principle of Mitt Romney is he thinks he should run the world."

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Tim Pawlenty has a plan for America, and it would force the government out of just about every sphere of American life where it exists now.

Pawlenty's tax plan, by design and effect, would dramatically erode the government's revenue base. As noted here, his plan would reduce the top individual income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, cut the top corporate rate from 25 percent to 15 percent, and allow pass-through corporations to pay taxes at the corporate -- not the individual -- rate. He also wants to completely eliminate capital gains taxes, taxes on dividends and interest, and the estate tax.

An independent analysis found that it would cost the Treasury over $11 trillion over the course of a decade -- nearly three times the cost of the Bush tax cuts -- most of which would benefit the wealthiest Americans.

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Two leading Republicans say they do not support President Obama's plan to broaden, deepen, and extend a payroll tax cut to stimulate the economy in the short-term.

In a briefing with reporters in the Capitol Tuesday, the House and Senate GOP conference chairs said they're through with short-term stimulus measures, even if they take the form of tax cuts.

"Well they've tried this once, and it hasn't seemed to be working," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

His Senate counterpart, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) echoed this view.

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