Archives for News

GOP leadership void opens door for Paul Ryan

Republicans are pressing ahead with one of the most ambitious and risky long-term spending agendas in memory, yet the dozen or so potential White House hopefuls are nearly invisible on the issue. They can’t stay on the sidelines for long, however. The contentious debate will rope them in on terms they might find hard to control. The triumph of tea party candidates in 2010 pumped new urgency into a long-brewing Republican Party push for major cuts in domestic and benefit programs, including Medicare and Social Security. In the absence of a Republican president or clear-cut party leader, a little-known congressman
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Supreme Court justice O’Connor faulted for ethical lapses

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor continues to hear cases in U.S. appeals courts, while also playing a role in public policy issues. Her critics say she should do one or the other, but not both. O’Connor, 81, was forced to apologize for 50,000 recorded telephone calls made to Nevada voters in which she supported a ballot measure to change the way state judges are selected. O’Connor said she did not authorize the calls featuring her recorded voice, much less their post-midnight delivery. But she also defended her involvement in the campaign that included her appearance in a television
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Both sides win something in budget deal

Rivals in a divided government, President Barack Obama and the most powerful Republican in Congress split their differences to stave off a federal shutdown that neither combatant was willing to risk. Their compromise is the result of a battle pitting the enduring power of the presidential veto and the White House soapbox — despite a “shellacking” in the last election — against a strong-willed GOP House speaker vaulted into office by a voter revolt against Washington’s free-spending ways. The resulting measure will bleed about $40 billion from the day-to-day budgets of domestic agencies over just the next six months, the
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At end of long night, a last-minute deal

There was barely an hour left before the midnight padlocking of government doors. In a Capitol basement meeting room, House Speaker John Boehner was telling exhausted fellow Republicans that a deal to avert a shutdown was nearly finished when an aide alerted him that staff had completed the final details and the agreement was complete. “He said we don’t have the Senate and we don’t have the White House, and it’s a good day’s work,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who was in the closed-door session and later described the scene. And with that, Republicans clapped: “Not euphoria,” Kingston said,
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Signs of relief, widespread disgust

A collective sense of relief resonated across the nation Saturday, now that a federal government shutdown is merely a thought of what could have been. Thousands of tourists poured into the Smithsonian museums in Washington — which would have been shuttered without Friday’s late-night budget deal — to see artifacts like the original “Star-Spangled Banner” flag. And military families won’t have to stock their freezers, not knowing when they might have another paycheck to put food on the table. The only thing that rivals their comfort? Widespread disgust, knowing that political bickering made them cringe in the first place. Matthew
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Last-minute deal avoids shutdown

A last minute budget deal, forged amid bluster and tough bargaining, averted an embarrassing federal shutdown and cut billions in spending — the first major test of the divided government voters ushered in five months ago. Working late into the evening Friday, congressional and White House negotiators struck an agreement to pay for government operations through the end of September while trimming $38.5 billion in spending. Lawmakers then approved a days-long stopgap measure to keep the government running while the details of the new spending plan were written into legislation. Actual approval of the deal would come in mid-week. “Today
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Budget battle tests Obama’s leadership

President Barack Obama promised to change Washington’s ways. Yet he is as caught up in them as ever. It was just at the start of this week that Obama launched his re-election bid with a sunny video of real people talking about their hopes and needs. It was the very image of life outside Washington politics. By week’s end, Obama was mired in budget negotiations, canceling trips and scrambling to hold off a government shutdown that would surely erode the public’s faith in his leadership. That’s the messy business of governing. And this is how it is going to be
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Planned parenthood, abotion and budgets

Republicans portray Planned Parenthood as primarily focused on performing abortions and — intentionally or not — using American taxpayer dollars to do it. Not so, say Democrats who counter that the group’s 800-plus health centers nationwide provide an array of services, from screenings for cancer to testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Abortion is just one of many procedures, and the law bars Planned Parenthood from using tax money for it. In the budget maelstrom Friday stood Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a 90-year-old organization now part of a decades-long congressional battle over abortion. Republicans wanted any legislation keeping the government
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House votes to overturn net neutrality

The House of Representatives voted on Friday to overturn “net neutrality” rules aimed at ensuring an open Internet, setting the stage for a clash with the Senate and President Barack Obama. The House voted 240-179 in favor of a Republican-backed resolution that seeks to block the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The House vote went almost entirely along party lines although six Democrats joined the Republicans in voting for the resolution and two Republicans opposed it. The five-member, Democratic-controlled FCC, in a vote split on party lines, agreed in December to the rules aimed at safeguarding “network
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IRS snitch gets $4.5 million whistleblower award

An accountant who tipped off the IRS that his employer was skimping on taxes has received $4.5 million in the first IRS whistleblower award. The accountant’s tip netted the IRS $20 million in taxes and interest from the errant financial-services firm. The award represents a 22 percent cut of the taxes recovered. The program, designed to encourage tips in large-scale cases, mandates awards of 15 to 30 percent of the amount recouped. “It ought to encourage a lot of other people to squeal,” Sen. Charles Grassley told The Associated Press. The Iowa Republican helped get the IRS Whistleblower Office authorized
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