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‘Tis the political season to be silly

Silly-season pollen seems to have infected the campaign trail. On the Democratic side, the excitable Vice President Joe Biden made the jaw-dropping claim that the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was unsurpassed in its audacity by anything that has happened since the 16th century — that’s right, for 500 years. Among Republicans, a punchy Rick Santorum declared that President Barack Obama’s health care law makes the life of every single American dependent on the government. Seriously? However far-reaching, the law is neither life-giving, nor health-destroying, and most Americans probably won’t feel a thing. Mitt Romney, for his part, continued
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With court case looming, insurance companies prep for change

The nation’s big insurers are spending millions to carry out President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul even though there’s a chance the wide-reaching law won’t survive Supreme Court scrutiny. It’s not that health insurers want to bet big that the court will uphold the Affordable Care Act. It’s that they can’t afford not to. It will take at least several months and lots of resources for insurers to prepare to implement key elements of the law, which includes a controversial requirement that most Americans have health insurance by 2014. WellPoint Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer with 34 million members,
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Obamacare gets high court hearing next week

President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul faces its biggest court test next week, capping a legal battle that could reshape the powers of the U.S. government, redefine medical care for most Americans and transform the 2012 election campaign. The justices on the U.S. Supreme Court will pepper lawyers with questions, possibly signaling how they might rule, during a modern-day record six hours of oral arguments from Monday through Wednesday. The justices, five of whom were appointed by Republican presidents and four by Democratic ones, promise a ruling by late June on the 2010 law passed by Congress that already has begun
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Housing market shows some signs of recovery

Home sales fell in February, but upward revisions to the prior month’s pace and the first yearly increase in prices in 15 months pointed to steady improvement in the housing market. Existing home sales fell 0.9 percent in February from January but still notched their second highest level since May 2010, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday. “We are starting to improve slowly. There is some encouraging news, but the dramatic things that need to happen to really turn the market around aren’t there,” said Mitchell Hochberg, Principal at Madden Real Estate Ventures in New York. Realtors say
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GOP establishment uniting to back Romney

The Republican establishment started to coalesce around Mitt Romney in earnest on Wednesday, with Jeb Bush and other leading Republicans pressuring Rick Santorum to leave the race after a thumping in the Illinois primary. But, on what should have been a triumphant day, Romney found himself having to defend his conservative credentials anew after one of his own top advisers, Eric Fehrnstrom, remarked that “everything changes” for the fall campaign. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch,” he said. “You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.” The remark fueled criticism that Romney molds his
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Grueling campaign leaves candidates exhausted, mistake-prone

It’s a good thing the GOP presidential race slows down from here: The candidates are even more tired than the voters. And, boy, does it show. Mitt Romney, who scaled back his public schedule this week to get a break, has slept in his own bed just twice since Christmas. Rick Santorum‘s been making the kind of flubs that come with exhaustion. Newt Gingrich got caught sleeping on camera a few weeks back, and looked like he just might topple over. And then there’s 76-year-old Ron Paul, last in the delegate hunt. The oldest candidate in the race, Paul is
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Newt Gingrich’s campaign is busted financially

Newt Gingrich‘s struggling GOP Presidential campaign is more than $1.5 million in debt and vendors say the former Speaker of the House is slow in paying his bills. The Gingrich campaign will file its Federal Election Commission campaign report today and is expected to show deep debts, stagnant fundraising and a gloomy outlook for the future. “Contributors smell a dead campaign,” a highly-placed GOP political source tells Capitol Hill Blue.  “It appears that the only person on the planet who doesn’t know Newt is finished is Newt himself.” Gingrich, who continues to vow that he will fight for the nomination
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Romney sees Illinois win as turning point

Mitt Romney says he’s “almost there” in his six-year pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination after defeating Rick Santorum in the Illinois GOP primary. “Tonight’s win means we are that much closer to securing the nomination, uniting our party, and taking on President Obama,” the Republican front-runner wrote in a campaign email sent late Tuesday. He urged the party to fall in line behind his bid, saying, “We are almost there.” The former Massachusetts governor and his allies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Santorum and his backers in Illinois, and it showed in the results: Romney was
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GOP primary circus: Endless campaign still looking for a winner

Mitt Romney‘s methodical accumulation of Republican delegates is no thing of beauty, and the public is reacting in kind. The 2012 presidential race thus far is drawing rather tepid interest despite high stakes that include pivotal decisions about the weak economy and the fate of President Barack Obama’s massive health care overhaul. Generally speaking, voter turnout, political fundraising and public curiosity are down compared with four years ago, when John McCain pulled away from Romney and others to secure the GOP nomination. Among Democrats, there’s no primary drama after a 2008 thriller that saw Obama battle Hillary Rodham Clinton through
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Illinois voters wanted candidate to beat Obama

Voters hunting for a candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama and with the proper experience helped vault Mitt Romney to victory Tuesday in Illinois’ presidential primary, according to results of an exit poll of voters. His win was also powered by robust margins from people worried about the economy and federal deficits. Main challenger Rick Santorum ran strongly among people who want their contender to be a true conservative and to exhibit strong moral character, and with the most religiously driven voters. But Illinois only has modest proportions of such voters, narrowing the former Pennsylvania senator’s appeal. “Romney is
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