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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

President Barack Obama on Wednesday praised the Senate's passage of a bill to roll back an interest rate hike on federal student loans that went into effect July 1st when Congress had deadlocked on the issue.

"This compromise is a major victory for our nation’s students," Obama said in a statement. "It meets the key principles I laid out from the start: it locks in low rates next year, and it doesn’t overcharge students to pay down the deficit.  I urge the House to pass this bill so that I can sign it into law right away, and I hope both parties build on this progress by taking even more steps to bring down soaring costs and keep a good education – a cornerstone of what it means to be middle class – within reach for working families."

Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), had some kind words Wednesday for Huma Abedin in the midst of new allegations that Abedin's husband, New York City mayoral candidate and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), sent illicit chats to women on the internet. 

“As a person and as a woman and as a wife, I’ve been through the painful reality of marriage with a troubled individual and having it in the press. My heart goes out to her,” Sanford told the Washington Post.

Sanford's ex-husband experienced the kind of political redemption Weiner is seeking when he won a South Carolina special congressional election in May. Mark Sanford resisted calls to resign from the governor's post after admitting having an affair with an Argentine woman in 2009. He finished out his term in 2011.

Correction: This post has been updated to show that Mark Sanford did not resign the governor's office in 2009. He served out the remainder of his term and left the office in 2011.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) continued to stand firm behind his remarks on undocumented immigrants acting as drug mules in an interview with Breitbart News Wednesday, arguing that the backlash against him suggests his anti-amnesty views are winning the ideological fight on immigration reform.

“You know when people attack you—in this business, when you’re in this business, you know that when people attack you, and they call you names, they’re diverting from the topic matter,” King told Breitbart. “You know they’ve lost the debate when they do that. We’ve talked about it for years. Tom Tancredo and I joked about it that that’s the pattern. When people start calling you names, that’s what confirms you’ve won the debate.”

A bevy of prominent Republicans have condemned his comments, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID).

"When I read their quotes, I have to believe they didn’t read mine,” King told Breitbart of his colleagues' criticism. “They completely missed the mark. I don’t yet know of anyone who has raised a logical argument against my statement.”

In his speech on the economy Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill., President Barack Obama vowed to put his platform to use to defray soaring education costs and invest in early childhood education in order to strengthen the middle class.

"If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century," Obama said. "If we don’t make this investment, we're going to put our kids, our workers, and our country at a competitive disadvantage for decades. So we have to begin in the earliest years, and that’s why I’ll keep pushing to make high-quality preschool available to every four year-old in America."

"I'm also going to use the power of my office over the next few months to highlight a topic that's straining the budgets of just about every American family and that's the soaring cost of higher education," he added. "Everybody's touched by this, including your president who had a whole bunch of loans he had to pay off." 

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) criticized President Obama's speech on the economy Wednesday even before it happened, calling the remarks "a hollow shell" and "an Easter egg with no candy in it."

"The White House says it's not expected to say anything new, there are no new proposals in this speech. The president himself said it isn't going to change any minds," Boehner said to his colleagues from the House floor. "So what exactly will change? What's the point? What's it going to accomplish?"

"You probably got the answer. Nothing," he continued. "It's a hollow shell. It's an Easter egg with no candy in it."

Watch Boehner's comments below, courtesy of CBS News: 

The conservative Club for Growth's PAC released a statement Wednesday expressing its interest in the fledgling campaign of Matt Bevin, a Kentucky businessman and primary challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“The Club for Growth PAC met with Matt Bevin many months ago, and we’d like to hear more about his candidacy and the differences between him and Senator McConnell on the issues,” the group's President Chris Chocola said in the statement.

Bevin is expected to formally announce his candidacy Wednesday, while McConnell took a preemptive hit at his challenger with an ad labelling the businessman "Bailout Bevin."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that President Barack Obama's scheduled speech in Illinois is meant to put national focus on the economy instead of "phony scandals" concocted by Congress, prompting "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough to launch a heated barrage of questions about the IRS scandal.

Asked if he thought the IRS scandal was "phony," Carney said that House Republicans had "cherry-picked" information only to drop their case against the agency once the full details emerged.

"I see you smiling, I don’t know that there’s anything to smile about," Scarborough said to Carney. "It wasn’t a couple of crazy people in Cincinnati. This information actually went up to the Chief Counsel of the IRS, which was one of two political appointees by the President of the United States and the entire IRS. So it doesn’t sound phony to me, Jay.” 

"I greatly appreciate that that is the line being pushed by Republicans who want Washington to be focused on scandals instead of the economy," Carney responded before Scarborough interrupted.

"Don't give me talking points, because that doesn't work on this show," Scarborough said. "So answer my question, and then let's talk about the economy." 

Carney conceded that the White House accepts that it needs to get to the bottom of what went on at the IRS, but said the economy deserves Washington's focus.

Watch the full "Morning Joe" segment below, courtesy of MSNBC: 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The head of the Massachusetts State Police said Tuesday that the police photographer who leaked photos of the arrest of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will likely keep his job, the Boston Globe reported.

Col. Timothy Alben told the Globe that Sgt. Sean Murphy was "a man of character," and "a person who has come in here and given a great deal to this organization.”

A State Police spokesman told the Globe that the decision to fire a trooper depends on the seriousness of the offense as well as prior disciplinary history. Murphy was not accused of criminal conduct or violence, the spokesman said.

Gilberton, Penn. police Chief Mark Kessler said Wednesday he was exercising his First and Second Amendment rights when he posted profanity-ridden videos to YouTube, in which he fires machine guns and calls Secretary of State John Kerry a "traitor" for supporting a U.N. arms treaty.

In a phone interview with the Pottsville Republican-Herald newspaper, Kessler defended two July 15 Youtube videos that went viral this week, one up to 31,319 views Tuesday from just 3,280 views on Monday by that newspaper's count. The videos show him in plain clothes firing automatic weapons while going on verbal tirades about gun rights.

"I think the video is in support of the Constitution -- the support of the First Amendment, the right to express your thoughts and words freely without reprisal from any government," Kessler told the Republican-Herald. "That's why I used the vocabulary I did. As for the firing of the guns, that is my Second Amendment right. I have the right to keep and bear arms regardless of what the government says that I don't."

"You don't see me going out and dragging people out of their vehicles and beating on them. You don't see me doing anything like that," he told the newspaper, comparing his videos to those that purport to show police brutality. "Did I use some vulgar language? Absolutely. Is it my right to do that? Absolutely. It's the First Amendment. Did I fire off a gun? Absolutely."

Kessler's YouTube content extends beyond those two posts. His channel also features a rant against "libtards" and a gun demonstration in which Kessler, in police uniform, shot a photo of a clown that he described as "Nancy Pelosi with her gavel, when she was speaker of the House."

Watch Kessler's original YouTube posts below:  


This post has been updated.

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