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Biden predicts up to $2 trillion in budget cuts

Even as Vice President Joe Biden gave his most optimistic assessment yet of budget talks he’s leading, President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies in the Senate signaled Tuesday a harder line on Medicare. That stance is complicating any effort to produce a deal to cut the deficit by $2 trillion or more over the coming decade or so. Biden said that he’s confident that the talks will produce an agreement on cutting the deficit “well beyond” $1 trillion over 10 to 12 years. The talks are aimed at finding spending cuts to accompany must-do legislation allowing the government to continue to
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Democrats hope Weiner will just quit and go away

House Democratic colleagues of scandal-scarred Rep. Anthony Weiner are looking for him to step down this week amid a growing chorus for him to resign. Even President Barack Obama has suggested he should leave. Adding to the drama, Weiner’s pregnant wife, Huma Abedin, returned Wednesday from a trip to Africa with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. A fellow member of Weiner’s New York Democratic delegation, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, said she’s heard from Weiner’s friends that the congressman is waiting for his wife to come home before making any decisions about his political future. McCarthy also cited talk
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Michele Bachmann: The new Sarah Palin?

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s smooth presidential debate performance, after years of fact-muffling and squirm-inducing hyperbole, stands to make her a bigger force in the Republican Party, posing problems for GOP leaders trying to put together a deal with President Barack Obama on reducing the nation’s debt. Bachmann resolutely opposes letting the government slide even deeper into debt, a position that appeals to her constituency of no-compromise tea partiers. Her confident, nearly error-free debate showing Monday night on stage alongside six men rippled through Republican circles back in Washington. She may have the clout now to confound GOP leaders who have labored
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Economic woes threaten budget debate

Sputtering job growth and talk of new tax cuts are throwing more hurdles in the way of a deal to reduce the deficit as Democratic and Republican negotiators step up their budget negotiations this week. Vice President Joe Biden and top lawmakers must work around a stark divide over taxes and healthcare as they try to find trillions of dollars in budget savings that would give Congress the political cover to increase the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the Treasury Department runs out of money to pay the nation’s bills. The Treasury Department has warned that it will need to
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Romney survives GOP debate without scars

If Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and other Republican presidential hopefuls feel they need to close the gap on front-runner Mitt Romney, they didn’t show it at the New Hampshire debate. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who leads in the early polls and fundraising efforts, had a surprisingly easy two hours Monday night. He looked calm and steady, criticizing President Barack Obama on the economy and health care while rarely being forced on the defensive despite some well-known vulnerabilities of his own. With New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary half a year away, the seven GOP candidates seemed more eager to introduce themselves
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Senate web site hacked

The Senate’s website was hacked over the weekend, leading to a review of all of its websites, in the latest embarrassing breach of security to hit a major U.S.-based institution. The loosely organized hacker group Lulz Security broke into a public portion of the Senate website but did not reach behind a firewall into a more sensitive portion of the network, Martina Bradford, the deputy Senate sergeant at arms, said on Monday. Despite the breach, the Sergeant at Arms Office, which provides security for the Senate, said that the breach had not compromised any individual senator’s information. Lulz announced the
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Congress returns to work without its Weiner

Congress returns to work on Monday, but at least one lawmaker won’t be there. Rep. Anthony Weiner starts this week on a temporary leave of absence, in treatment for an undisclosed disorder at an undisclosed location. He spent most of last week embroiled in a sexting scandal. Weiner has acknowledged exchanging messages and photos that ranged from sexually suggestive to explicit, with several women online. The latest to surface appeared on the gossip website TMZ. Meanwhile, the No. 2 House Democrat spoke of Weiner’s “bizarre and unacceptable behavior” in sending the inappropriate pictures of himself. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland
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Obama’s prospects in Sunshine State anything but sunny

President Barack Obama has problems in Florida that he didn’t have when he won the prized state in 2008. The state’s economy is worse than elsewhere. Foreclosures are high. Property values are low. As president, Obama could be blamed. Voters’ shifting attitudes show the degree to which the atmosphere has changed since his first campaign. Florida Democrats made gains in 2008 with Obama on the top of the ticket, but the GOP won big two years later. All that explains why Florida Democrats are redoubling their efforts to re-energize the rank and file, including at the state party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner
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Obama in 2012: Less excitement, more disenchantment

If President Barack Obama wants North Carolina in his win column again next year, he might have to count on Elliott Johnson’s quiet, even grudging, acceptance rather than the riotous enthusiasm that propelled him to the White House in 2008. Johnson, a 23-year-old college graduate with a new accounting degree in hand, is an intern at a commercial real estate firm. He would like something more permanent. But many of his college friends aren’t finding work, either, and he’s counting on a breakthrough in the economy. “We have to do something different,” he said, pausing at a downtown street corner
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Palin’s emails: Old media vs new

The analysis of Sarah Palin’s emails over the past few days may end up teaching us more about the future of journalism than about the former Alaska governor’s past. Drawing on methods used by both Wikileaks and social networks, traditional news organizations such as The New York Times and The Washington Post used the Palin email dump as an experiment in new media techniques. They sought collaboration from readers and posted massive volumes of documents online before reporters even had a chance to read most of the papers. That sort of public coordination — often called “crowdsourcing” — has drawn
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