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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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Sexting addict Weiner won’t quit Congress, opts for leave of absence

Rejecting calls by Democratic leaders for him to resign in a sexting scandal, Rep. Anthony Weiner is instead seeking professional treatment and asking for a leave of absence from Congress. Weiner’s plan leaves top Democrats wrestling with how best to end the furor over the seven-term congressman’s misdeeds that could hurt the party’s prospects in the 2012 elections. Weiner’s announcement that he would request a leave from Congress came shortly after several Democratic Party leaders demanded he quit on Saturday. The Weiner spectacle, with raunchy online photos and messages, has been a huge embarrassment for Democrats who back in 2006
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Timeline of a Weiner’s scandal

A timeline of events in the online sex scandal involving Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.: Friday, May 27: Weiner uses his Twitter account to send a waist-down photograph of a man’s underpants to a 21-year-old female college student in Seattle. He quickly deletes it and sends out a tweet saying that his Facebook account was hacked. Saturday, May 28: BigGovernment.com, a website run by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, first reports that Weiner sent the lewd photo. Weiner was a Twitter follower of the female college student who received the photo. Sunday, May 29: A Weiner spokesman tells AP that the lewd
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GOP Presidential field: Not much to brag about

Newt Gingrich’s campaign defections are just the latest tremor in a constantly shifting GOP presidential landscape that craves some steadiness as a big, early New Hampshire debate nears. Rivals already were trying to poach Gingrich’s donors and top supporters Friday, even as the former House speaker said he would keep campaigning despite the resignations of his top advisers and entire Iowa paid staff. Party insiders eyed the likely entry of Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and a possible bid by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Mitt Romney’s decision to skip the Iowa straw poll in August, meanwhile, reinforced his image as
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