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McConnell proposes way to end debt-limit stalemate

The level of frustration felt by some on Capitol Hill has reached the point that even a Republican leader is proposing giving President Barack Obama the power to increase the debt ceiling on his own without the approval of Congress. A long-shot proposal by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky highlights the realization that the debate over taxes and revenue is at a standstill and cannot be resolved by continuing to fight. While tea party zealots screamed in dismay over McConnell’s proposal, calmer heads appeared to realize that no other option may be available to resolve the issue. “I
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Ron Paul opts out of Congress

Texas Congressman — and twice-failed Presidential candidate — Ron Paul is effectively ending his political career by choosing to give up his seat in Congress to concentrate on a third try for a Presidency he can’t win. The 75-year-old Paul — a hard-line libertarian with a small but rabid following — announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election to another term in the House and will focus on his run for the GOP nomination for President. But Paul — despite a penchant for raising millions that he later converts to other uses — is at best a long shot, a
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Deadlock of inflexible rhetoric

President Barack Obama and GOP lawmakers, hundreds of billions of dollars short of their goal and seemingly trapped in inflexible bargaining positions, are struggling for agreement on $2 trillion-plus in budget cuts as the price for maintaining the government’s ability to borrow. Lawmakers were asked to return to the White House for talks Tuesday afternoon after a 90-minute Monday session produced no progress other than to identify the size of the gap between Republicans and Obama. Neither side showed any give that might generate hopes for a speedy agreement. Instead, Republicans again took a firm stand against revenue increases while
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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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