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Iowa straw poll: Part politics, part circus, all hype

There’s a hefty dose of circus mixed with deadly serious politics in the Iowa Republican straw poll. The event Saturday will mark the first time Republicans in Iowa indicate publicly whom they want as their 2012 presidential nominee. It’s a test vote of sorts that comes months before the precinct caucuses that kick off the party’s presidential nomination fight. And it could send an early signal about who is showing potential in the race — or it could mean nothing at all. Despite its name, however, the “straw poll” is not a poll at all — and it’s certainly not
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GOP Presidential wannabes blame Obama for credit downgrade

The 2012 Republican presidential contenders have roundly criticized President Barack Obama for economic policies they contend helped drive the downgrade of U.S. credit by a major ratings agency. But they’ve offered few of their own ideas to ease the current crisis, and analysts warn they could risk a backlash from voters frightened by the market turbulence and weary of partisan finger-pointing. “Americans are exhausted with Washington’s blame game and are craving anyone who can provide legitimate answers on a path on getting out of this mess,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said. “The Republican who can rise above and provide a
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Wisconsin recall effort comes up one win short

A stand by Wisconsin Republicans against a massive effort to oust them from power could reverberate across the country as the battle over union rights and the conservative revolution heads toward the 2012 presidential race. Democrats succeeded in taking two Wisconsin state Senate seats away from Republican incumbents on Tuesday but fell one short of what they needed to seize majority control of the chamber. Republicans saw it as a big win for Gov. Scott Walker and a confirmation of his conservative agenda, the hallmark of which was a polarizing proposal taking away most collective bargaining rights from public workers.
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Obama’s lament: ‘I inherited this mess’

President Barack Obama said on Monday he inherited many of the country’s problems with high debt and deficits when he entered the White House, sounding a theme likely to dominate his 2012 re-election campaign. Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser, where families paid $15,000 to get a picture with him, Obama defended his economic record and noted that problems in Europe were affecting the United States. “We do have a serious problem in terms of debt and deficit, and much of it I inherited,” Obama said. The financial crisis, he said, made the problem worse. Democrats and Republicans agreed to a
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S&P downgrade: Economics or politics?

The S&P downgrade was more of a statement on the toxic political landscape in Washington than a comment on the nation’s ability to pay its bills. But S&P has its own checkered history. Just a few years ago, the company gave its top triple-A rating to some of the mortgage-backed securities that helped cause the Great Recession. Could it be wrong again? New York-based Standard and Poor‘s was upfront about its focus on the political angle, citing the long standoff between President Barack Obama and Congress as a key factor in its unprecedented downgrade of the government’s credit rating. “We
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House kills 180-year-old page program

Bringing the curtain down on a nearly 200-year-old tradition, leaders of the US House of Representatives announced Monday that they were doing away with the chamber’s “page” program. Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cited the high cost of the program as well as advances in technology that have reduced the need for the teenaged messengers’ services. “We have great appreciation for the unique role that pages have played in the history and traditions of the House of Representatives. This decision was not easy, but it is necessary,” they said in a joint statement.
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New GOP campaign tactic: Pray for America

Texas Governor Rick Perry, expected to enter the Republican race for the White House within weeks, offered a prayer for America on Saturday at a controversial religious rally that put the spotlight on his Christian faith. Perry, who has made his religious beliefs a big part of his public image, urged an enthusiastic crowd at the seven-hour gathering to pray for President Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders. “Father, our heart breaks for America,” said Perry, who hatched the idea for the rally and brushed off heavy criticism for participating. “We see discord at home, we see fear in the
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Axelrod: Tea Party to blame for credit downgrade

A top White House adviser is blaming the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating on tea party Republicans, whom he says were unwilling to compromise on how to reduce the federal debt. The adviser to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the decision by the Standard & Poor‘s credit agency to downgrade the U.S. from AAA to AA+ for the first time was strongly influenced by weeks of standoff between Democrats and Republicans over the debt. Axelrod calls the action, in his words, “a tea party downgrade” and says it’s clearly on the
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Credit rating downgrade brings political pot to a boil

America’s historic loss of its top-notch credit rating failed to cool the feud between Republicans and President Barack Obama‘s Democrats which threatens to drive the US economy into disaster. Despite being rebuked by ratings blue chip Standard & Poor‘s over political “brinkmanship,” US politicians dug deeper Saturday into inflexible positions on spending cuts, deficits and tax policy. The humiliation of seeing a AAA rating tumble to an AA+ with a negative outlook had the potential to further damage Obama’s weakened presidency as well as his Republican foes in Congress who polls show have forfeited public trust. Obama was already diminished
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The credit rating downgrade: What does it all mean?

The real danger from the downgrade of U.S. government debt by Standard & Poor‘s isn’t higher interest rates. It’s the hit to the nation’s fragile economic psyche and rattled financial markets. S&P’s decision to strip the U.S. of its sterling AAA credit rating for the first time and move it down one notch, to AA+, deals a blow to the confidence of consumers and businesses at a dangerous time, economists say. The agency is “striking at the heart of what makes the global economy tick,” says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economists for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. “It isn’t just
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