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Republicans try to stall end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Two top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee have asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to delay the new policy allowing gays to serve openly in the military. In a letter to the Pentagon chief this week, California Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, the committee chairman, and South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson — two opponents of repealing the ban — complained that the policies and regulations for implementing the change have not been finalized nor provided to the panel. “Since it is evident that the department does not have final, approved policies in place, we believe it is essential that you
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Obama’s legacy: Land of the poor, home of the foreclosed

Barack Obama‘s road to re-election is lined with lots of boarded-up homes. Though the high unemployment rate dominates talk in Washington, for many 2012 voters the housing crisis may well be a more powerful manifestation of a sick economy. And, in an unfortunate twist for Obama, the problem is at its worst in many of the battleground states that will be decisive in determining whether he gets another term. Swing states Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan — they all pulse red-hot on a foreclosure rate “heat map.” And by themselves those five add up to 80 of the 270
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Jobs plan gets some support from House Republicans

Sounding cooperative but drawing a firm line on tax increases, House Republican leaders said on Friday they see some areas of possible agreement with President Barack Obama on his jobs plan. Extending a tax break for businesses that allows them to write off the value of new equipment purchases is one area of common ground, the leaders said in an open letter to House Republicans. But the president’s proposed 28 percent cap on itemized deductions, affecting mostly wealthy taxpayers, is “a tax increase on charitable contributions, mortgage interest deductions, and municipal bonds for states,” the memo said. Republicans also rejected
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White House ignored warnings about solar company’s problems

White House officials discussed the political ramifications of a possible default by a troubled solar energy company that received more than $500 million in federal loans, newly released emails show. Emails released Thursday night show that Obama administration privately worried about the effect of a default by Solyndra Inc. on the president’s re-election campaign. “The optics of a Solyndra default will be bad,” an official from the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Jan. 31 email to a senior OMB official. “The timing will likely coincide with the 2012 campaign season heating up.” The email, released by the
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Boehner disses Obama jobs plan

The top Republican in Congress on Thursday dismissed President Barack Obama‘s jobs-creation package as a “poor substitute” for policies that would boost the economy and ruled out tax increases as a way to close the country’s budget gap. In a high-profile speech, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner called on a special congressional committee to consider tax reforms that would close loopholes but not raise rates — or tax revenues — as part of its bid to cut the U.S. deficit. Boehner’s speech was a comprehensive statement of Republican economic principles as Congress works to bring down the stubbornly high
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Lobbyists zero in on debt committee

The special “super committee” tackling U.S. deficit reduction was meant to operate independently and free from outside influence — but Washington’s corps of high-paid lobbyists has found a way in. They have descended on the Congress in recent days to persuade rank-and-file lawmakers to act as de facto lobbyists themselves, penetrating the committee and convincing their colleagues to protect the interests of special groups. “It’s a strategy of turning members (of Congress) into lobbyists,” said Rich Gold, a partner at the Washington firm Holland & Knight. As he spoke to Reuters, Gold was on his way to the Senate to
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Panetta: Defense cuts will increase unemployment

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is warning members of Congress that threatened defense cuts in the order of $1 trillion over the next decade would add 1 percentage point to the U.S. unemployment rate, a senior defense official said on Thursday. The assessment, disclosed by the Pentagon, appears to be the latest attempt by the new defense secretary to buck bigger defense cuts he says could be “devastating” to the U.S. armed forces and national security. Congress reached an agreement in August that calls for at least $350 billion in cuts to national security spending over 10 years, and Pentagon officials
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Can Tommy Thompson pull off a political comeback?

For more than a decade, Tommy Thompson was the face of the Republican Party in Wisconsin. He was elected governor four times. Word that he was considering a political comeback seemed to offer the GOP the prospect of a high-profile contender for a Democratic-held Senate seat and a better shot at winning control of the chamber in 2012. But as Thompson weighs a possible bid, Republicans here find themselves with surprisingly mixed feelings about their most famous living politician and where he fits into the party these days. “He’s done a lot of good things,” said Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald,
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Sarah Palin: A sex-crazed druggie with a thing for black lovers?

An upcoming book about Sarah Palin portrays the tea party centerfold as anything but a family values soccer mom. Instead, a searing look at Palin by author Joe McGinniss discovered a wanton woman who slept around, snorted coke, smoked grass and was pregnant when she married Todd Palin. The book — The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin — will be released September 20 but details leaked early portray Palin as a sexual animal with a “fetish” for black men and a adulteress who screwed her husband’s business partner for six months.  Palin, McGinniss writes,  had a one-night stand
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Rick Perry used perks of office to get rich

When it comes to presidential candidates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a man of modest means. Perry’s state salary peaked at $150,000 after two decades as a public official, and he and his wife earned just over $2 million in wages between 1991 and 2009. Perry is worth is at least $1.1 million. His chief Republican rival, businessman Mitt Romney, is worth more than $190 million. Perry became a millionaire through a practice common to many other politicians over the years: taking part in profitable deals involving political friends and their businesses. He made more than $800,000 in 2007 reselling
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