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Anatomy of GOP hardliners

On the surface, it would seem like an opportune time for Congress to include targeted tax hikes as part of a cost-cutting package to reduce the huge federal deficit. Federal taxes, as a share of the overall economy, are at their lowest levels since 1950. A return to the higher income tax rates of the Clinton presidency — when many Americans prospered, and calls for tax cuts were fairly muted — would wipe out most of the deficit. And congressional Democrats appear ready to make deep spending cuts, sought by Republicans, in exchange for a smaller level of tax increases.
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Debt limit: Tick, tick, tick…

With pressuring continuing to build but no breakthroughs in sight, budget bargaining between President Barack Obama and top lawmakers resumes Monday at the White House, with both sides hoping to slash the deficit as the price for permitting the government to borrow more than $2 trillion to pay its bills. In a rare Sunday meeting in the White House Cabinet Room, Obama continued to push for a “grand bargain” in the range of $4 trillion worth of deficit cuts over the coming decade, but momentum is clearly on the side of a smaller measure of perhaps half that size. Obama
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Taxes still a stumbling block

After months of effort, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans are right back where they started as they try to avert a looming debt default: arguing over taxes. With a “grand bargain” to tame the national debt seemingly off the table, Obama, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and other top leaders will try for a more modest deal when they resume their discussions at the White House on Monday afternoon. But negotiators will have to confront a divide over taxes that has prevented them from reaching a deal so far. Democrats say new tax revenues need to be part
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Baghdad shelled during Panetta visit

Three rockets hit Baghdad’s Green Zone on Monday during a visit to the capital by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Iraqi police said. No casualties were reported. The rockets were fired from a Shiite-dominated neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, said police officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The Pentagon chief was visiting the U.S. military’s Camp Victory on the capital’s western outskirts at the time of the attack on the Green Zone, the heavily secured district in central Baghdad that is home to the U.S. and other embassies as well
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No tea party unity on foreign policy

Tea Party movement-backed lawmakers have marched in lockstep toward the goal of shrinking the government but that unity dissolves when it comes to America’s role in the world. Republicans who were elected to Congress with support of the grassroots movement have bucked Republican orthodoxy by supporting some defense spending cuts, and they have been at the forefront of criticism of the U.S. Libya intervention. But they appear more divided on how quickly to pull out from Afghanistan, with some favoring a quicker drawdown than President Barack Obama has proposed and others, a slower one. “It’s really a little bit of
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No longer a young society

America’s cities are beginning to grapple with a fact of life: People are getting old, fast, and they’re doing it in communities designed for the sprightly. To envision how this silver tsunami will challenge a youth-oriented society, just consider that seniors soon will outnumber schoolchildren in hip, fast-paced New York City. It will take some creative steps to make New York and other cities age-friendly enough to help the coming crush of older adults stay active and independent in their own homes. “It’s about changing the way we think about the way we’re growing old in our community,” said New
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Can Pawlenty survive?

Trailing in polls and low on cash, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is betting the future of his presidential campaign on Iowa, where a late summer test vote could make or break him. “We look to the Ames straw poll as a chance to show improvement,” Pawlenty said in an interview this week, acknowledging his lagging fortunes as he opened a 15-day Iowa campaign stretch a month before the state popularity contest that’s often a launch pad or cemetery for White House hopefuls. “We have to show some reasonable improvement at the straw poll, and then we’ve got to be
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Immigration law sponsor faces recall

The sponsor of Arizona’s controversial immigration law faces a recall election after opponents collected more than 10,000 voter signatures. County Elections Director Karen Osborne says her office is certifying that the petitions have 10,365 valid signatures of voters from state Sen. Russell Pearce‘s legislative district in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. They needed 7,756 signatures to force a recall election. The secretary of state issued its own certification later Friday. It’s now up to Gov. Jan Brewer to formally call for the election. Pearce, a Republican, is best known for sponsoring immigration measures including the 2010 enforcement law known as
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Betty Ford dead at 93

Betty Ford said things that first ladies just don’t say, even today. And 1970s America loved her for it. According to Mrs. Ford, her young adult children probably had smoked marijuana — and if she were their age, she’d try it, too. She told “60 Minutes” she wouldn’t be surprised to learn that her youngest, 18-year-old Susan, was in a sexual relationship (an embarrassed Susan issued a denial). She mused that living together before marriage might be wise, thought women should be drafted into the military if men were, and spoke up unapologetically for abortion rights, taking a position contrary
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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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