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More budget talks on Sunday

With an August deadline for a budget deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling looming, President Barack Obama and congressional negotiators are looking at closing some tax loopholes and cutting popular social benefit programs as they work to reach an agreement between Republicans and Democrats. With the two sides still far apart, Obama has called everyone back to the White House for a rare Sunday meeting. The president met with the eight top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders for an hour and a half Thursday, hoping to bridge ideas held by the two sides — each considered untenable by the
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House mixes messages on Libya

The House is sending mixed signals on President Barack Obama‘s military action against Libya, voting to prohibit weapons and training to rebels looking to oust Moammar Gadhafi but stopping short of trying to cut off money for American participation in the NATO-led mission. In a series of votes Thursday, Republicans and Democrats expressed their dissatisfaction with the Libya operation, now in its fourth month with no end in sight and waning support from some nations in the international coalition. The House voted to bar military aid to the rebels but moments later rejected efforts to prevent funding for the limited
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Obama plans new rules on gun safety

Six months after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, the White House is preparing to propose some new steps on gun safety, though they’re likely to fall short of the bold measures activists would like to see. Spokesman Jay Carney said that the new steps would be made public “in the near future.” He didn’t offer details, but people involved in talks at the Justice Department to craft the new measures said they expected to see something in the next several weeks. Whatever is proposed is not expected to involve legislation or take on major issues, like banning assault weapons, but
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Bomb implants: Newest terrorism threat?

US officials have warned airlines terror groups may be mulling implanting bombs under the skins of passengers, reports said Wednesday, but stressed the alert was not linked to any specific threat. The Los Angeles Times said the US administration had warned airlines that extremist groups were considering surgically implanting explosives into people to try to beat enhanced airport security measures. Passengers flying to the United States could now face even tougher screening procedures, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, Nicholas Kimball, told the daily. “These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the
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Can economic upturn save Obama?

Signs of economic improvement could bolster President Barack Obama‘s re-election hopes as he tries to beat back Republican attacks over his failure to create enough jobs. Economists say things are looking brighter in the second half of 2011, which would augur well for Obama as he gears up a 2012 campaign that will largely hinge on how Americans feel about the economy. Manufacturing is improving, a housing price decline may be abating and — crucially for U.S. consumers — gasoline prices are down sharply from their highs in May, which should help overcome disappointing unemployment data — the most politically
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Debt limit worries increase

As the standoff over raising the government’s borrowing limit enters its final month, it’s becoming harder for investors to avoid thinking the unthinkable: the world’s most trusted borrower could soon renege on its debt. The U.S. Treasury says it will be forced to default on its obligations if Congress does not raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, which caps how much it can borrow, by August 2. The Treasury has not specified which bills it wouldn’t pay, but the prospect of its missing interest or principal payments on any outstanding debt is a terrifying one for Wall Street. Even a
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Obama hosts debt talks

President Barack Obama is having friend and foe alike come to the White House to talk about cutting the budget deficit, with less than four weeks to avert a first-ever default on U.S. financial obligations. Thursday’s talks will include top lawmakers in both parties. Negotiations are gaining urgency by the day, because Republicans are insisting on major cuts to the deficit as the price for approving legislation to maintain the government’s ability to borrow money and stave off a market-rattling default. The negotiations are the first official sit-down since last month, when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left talks
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Medicaid makes difference

Signing up for Medicaid could improve your overall health and financial security, says a surprising new study that offers clues on how President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul might affect millions of low-income uninsured Americans. The findings run counter to a widespread perception that having a Medicaid card is no better than being uninsured, and maybe even worse. Led by economists at Harvard and MIT, and released Thursday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the study found that having Medicaid significantly increased the chances people will perceive their health as being good to excellent, while decreasing the likelihood they’ll
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GOP backs away from Obamacare repeal

Republicans stormed into control of the House after the 2010 elections determined to repeal Obamacare. They promised to replace the controversial health care “reform” with something else. That was then. This is now and you don’t hear much talk on Capitol Hill about “repeal and replace.” “I can’t get any traction,” says Iowa Rep. Steve King, the House Republican who shouted the loudest about how he and other Republicans will repeal Obama care or — at the very least — defund it. “You can’t create something in this Congress unless leadership approves it.  There’s a little bit of an undercurrent
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Even the right is pissed at Republicans

Republican intransigence on lifting the debt ceiling is angering those on both sides of the debate with even some on the right saying the GOP is taking a big chance with its our-way-or-the-highway strategy. “If the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not,” conservative columnist David Brooks wrote in The New York Times on Tuesday. “If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern.” Recent polls suggest Republicans have the most to lose
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