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Jim DeMint relishes tea party role

He calls himself Sen. Tea Party. That almost says it all about Sen. Jim DeMint’s role on the nation’s political scene in these nervous days of debt limit warfare and pre-election posturing. But unlike the fractious movement as a whole, DeMint is specific and focused on what change, exactly, he wants: passage — not just a vote — of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Without it, he says, no consideration should be given to raising the nation’s borrowing limit. Even, he says, if the country runs out of money for paying all its bills after Aug. 2. The larger
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Progress towards a real deal on debt limit?

White House officials and congressional Republicans are reaching toward a potential end to their bitter debt limit showdown, raising hopes that a deal could be in place by Tuesday to avert a possible federal default. After weeks of strident partisan conflict, the two sides were discussing an accord that would raise the government’s borrowing authority in two steps by about $2.4 trillion and cut federal spending by slightly more, according to knowledgeable officials. Congress would also have to vote on a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, a top-flight GOP goal. Unlike a bill approved Friday by the Republican-run
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Tea party extremism; buyer’s remorse

House Republicans rode the tea party tiger to power last fall. Now it’s turning on them, forcing party leaders to endure embarrassing delays and unwanted revisions to crucial debt-ceiling legislation. This tiger did not change it stripes. When tea partyers emerged as a political phenomenon in 2009, they vowed to stand on principle and change the way Washington works. They’ve kept that promise despite some doubters’ predictions they would succumb to the get-along, go-along crowd once they reached Capitol Hill. That fidelity is now threatening GOP unity and causing headaches for party leaders as they try to negotiate with Democrats
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The debt-limit debacle continues: Tick, tick, tick…

The GOP-controlled House and the Democratic Senate remain at loggerheads over debt legislation required to avoid a first-ever default on U.S. financial obligations as lawmakers and the White House head into a pressure-packed weekend in search of compromise. A week of extraordinary partisanship was capped by a power play by Senate Democrats, who killed a House-passed debt limit increase and budget-cutting bill Friday night less than two hours after it squeaked through the House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., set up a test vote for the wee hours of Sunday morning to break a GOP filibuster. Before then, however,
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The debt-limit fiasco: Boehner versus Obama

The fight over the debt ceiling has turned into a dramatic leadership test for President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, opponents in a divided government who’ve gone from negotiating in secret to facing off in public at a watershed moment for the country and their own political careers. As the standoff enters its uncertain endgame, it’s unclear which of them will come out ahead — or if the two leaders will rise or fall together with days left to strike a deal and stave off a potentially catastrophic default on U.S. financial obligations. After Boehner succeeded in maneuvering
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Iraq deadlier now than a year ago

Frequent bombings, assassinations and a resurgence in violence by Shiite militias have made Iraq more dangerous now than it was just a year ago, a U.S. government watchdog concludes in a report released Saturday. The findings come during what U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen Jr. called “a summer of uncertainty” in Baghdad over whether American forces will stay past a year-end withdrawal deadline and continue military aid for the unstable nation. “Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,” Bowen concluded in his 172-page quarterly report to Congress and the Obama administration on progress —
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Dysfunctional Republicans spotlight Capitol Hill chaos

Demoralized House Republicans are trying for a third straight day to pass a debt-ceiling bill that has almost no chance of surviving the Senate, even as the clock ticks closer to next week’s deadline for avoiding a potentially calamitous government default. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, suffered a stinging setback Thursday when, for a second consecutive day, he had to postpone a vote on his proposal to extend the nation’s borrowing authority while cutting federal spending by nearly $1 trillion. “Obviously, we didn’t have the votes,” Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., said after Boehner and the GOP leadership had spent hours
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Debt limit stalemate threatens defense spending

Once unthinkable in a time of two wars, Democrats and Republicans alike are insisting that the billions spent on the military can be significantly cut back over the next decade as the nation struggles to reduce its spiraling debt. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s plan to slash spending and increase the government’s borrowing authority would cap spending by the Pentagon and other government agencies at $1.2 trillion. Conservative Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has called for just over $1 trillion in defense cuts in his “Back in Black” plan, including fewer weapons, fighter jets and personnel. A bipartisan group of
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Divided Republicans postpone debt limit vote

The endgame at hand, House Republicans struggled Thursday to pass legislation to prevent a looming government default while slicing nearly $1 trillion from federal spending. Senate Democrats pledged to scuttle the bill — if it got to them — in hopes of forcing a final compromise. As afternoon debate headed toward evening, GOP leaders ordered an unexplained halt on the measure and Speaker John Boehner summoned a string of recalcitrant rank-and-file Republicans to his office. Asked what he and Boehner had talked about, Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said, “I think that’s rather obvious. .. There’s negotiations going on.” Another Republican,
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Economy continues to slow down

The economy likely grew in the first half of the year at the slowest pace since the recession ended, and the second half isn’t looking much better. Weak consumer spending, dismal hiring and cuts in government spending likely held back growth in the April-June quarter. The government will report on second-quarter growth on Friday. Economists forecast the economy expanded at an annual rate of 1.7 percent, according to a FactSet survey. That follows a 1.9 percent growth rate in the first three months of the year. Those are the slowest back-to-back quarters since the economy began recovering from the recession
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