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Oops! Obama mouths off into an open mike

Now that the reporters were gone, President Barack Obama had some private thoughts to share with about 50 donors. His recollections of the recent spending negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner. His tough assessment about his main budget antagonist in Congress. His desire for “cooler phones” in the White House and better information technology. The late evening exchange at a Chicago restaurant did not stay private for long. He was betrayed by a live audio feed which mistakenly piped Obama’s off the cuff remarks all the way to the press briefing room of the White House, where a few reporters
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Cities, states brace for budget cuts

The budget deal the Congress passed late Thursday and that President Barack Obama is expected to sign on Friday has state and local governments worried they may have to make up for cuts in some federal programs. The resolution to keep the government running for the rest of fiscal year 2011 reduced Community Development Block Grants by 16 percent. Cities, towns and counties rely on the relatively small program to fight homelessness and blight. For months they have campaigned to preserve every cent of the grants as states pull back on aid to local governments. The cut of roughly $600
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Obama signs six-month spending bill

President Barack Obama signed a six-month spending bill Friday that cuts more than $38 billion from the current budget. The legislation averted a government shutdown and was the result of intense negotiations between the White House and emboldened Republicans. There was no signing ceremony. In an accompanying signing statement, however, Obama questioned the constitutionality of a provision in the spending bill that prevents the White House from retaining special policy advisers, or “czars.” He also objected to two other sections that block the transfer of terrorist suspects from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States or
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Obama: GOP turning America into ‘third world’

President Barack Obama accused his Republican foes of wanting to turn the United States into a “Third World” country Thursday as he rallied support for his reelection campaign. The attack came a day after Obama savaged Republican budget plans and unveiled his $4 trillion deficit reduction drive that aims to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to preserve key social services. The debate over fiscal policy will prove critical to the 2012 campaign, and Obama sought to frame it as a “stark choice” between investing in the future or watching the country fall apart. “Under their vision, we
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Why did a model Marine war vet takes his own life?

Handsome and friendly, Clay Hunt so epitomized a vibrant Iraq veteran that he was chosen for a public service announcement reminding veterans that they aren’t alone. The 28-year-old former Marine corporal earned a Purple Heart after taking a sniper’s bullet in his left wrist. He returned to combat in Afghanistan. Upon his return home, he lobbied for veterans on Capitol Hill, road-biked with wounded veterans and performed humanitarian work in Haiti and Chile. Then, on March 31, Hunt bolted himself in his Houston apartment and shot himself. Friends and family say he was wracked with survivor’s guilt, depression and other
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Obama signs bill rolling back part of health care law

President Barack Obama has signed the first rollback of last year’s health care law, a bipartisan repeal of a burdensome tax-reporting requirement that’s widely unpopular with businesses. The bill Obama signed Thursday repeals a provision that would have forced millions of businesses to file tax forms for every vendor selling them more than $600 in goods each year, starting in 2012. The filing requirement is unrelated to health care. However, it would have been used to pay for part of the new health law by ensuring that vendors pay taxes. Republicans hope it is the first of many such bills,
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Palin headed to Wisconsin for Tea Party rally

Sarah Palin, easily the most polarizing figure in a tea party dominated by extremists, is headed for Wisconsin for a rally at the state capitol in Madison where Republican Governor Scott Walker rammed through controversial legislation that would strip union rights for most public workers. The Alaska governor who quit before her term ended and failed 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate will speak at the tea party’s annual tax day rally, which begins at noon. The Wisconsin Democratic Party, still stinging over Gov. Scott Walker’s divisive collective bargaining law, said in a statement that Palin and Walker “complement each perfectly
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Recount clock ticking in disputed Wisconsin court race

Officials in Wisconsin’s largest county said on Thursday they would meet the deadline for finishing their review of the local vote in last week’s state Supreme Court race, an election widely seen as a referendum on Republican efforts to curb public sector unions. The end of the county reviews would set the stage for either candidate in the closely watched contest to demand a recount. Although Milwaukee’s County’s review remains incomplete, its unofficial count, when combined with the final counts from other counties, show the incumbent, former Republican state assemblyman David Prosser, with a lead of about 7,300 votes over
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Obama’s plan: Cut spending, tax the rich

President Barack Obama coupled a call for $4 trillion in long-term deficit reductions with a blistering attack on Republican plans for taxes, Medicare and Medicaid on Wednesday, laying down markers for a roiling debate in Congress and the 2012 presidential campaign to come. Obama said spending cuts and higher taxes alike must be part of any deficit-reduction plan, including an end to Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. He proposed an unspecified “debt failsafe” that would go into effect if Congress failed to make sure the national debt would be falling by 2014 relative to the size of the overall
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Obama tiptoes around tax hikes

With his striking choice of words, President Barack Obama clearly outlined the greatest perils for Republicans — and for Democrats — in the nation’s high-stakes debate over spending and social programs. Obama used vivid, populist language in a forceful speech Wednesday to denounce the GOP plan for cutting spending and revamping Medicare and Medicaid. The Republicans, he said, have concluded that “even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy.” But the president’s language was tortured and opaque when it came to
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