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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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Budget pact does little to reduce current year deficit

A new budget estimate released Wednesday shows that the spending bill negotiated between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner would produce less than 1 percent of the $38 billion in promised savings by the end of this budget year. The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote Thursday would cut federal outlays from non-war accounts by just $352 million through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in immediate cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending. When war funding
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Treasury Dept. paid law firms without checking bills

The Treasury Department paid out more than $27 million to law firms overseeing the financial bailouts without requiring detailed bills or questioning the incomplete records that the lawyers provided, a government watchdog says. Treasury’s “current contracts and fee bill review practices create an unacceptable risk that Treasury, and therefore the American taxpayer, is overpaying for legal services,” the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said in a report issued Thursday. Treasury could not have adequately gauged whether the fees were reasonable because the records are so sparse, the report says. The report criticizes so-called “block billing,” in
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Poll: Most think their taxes are fair

For all the complaining this time of year, most Americans actually think the taxes they pay are fair. Not that they’re cheering. Fewer people expect refunds this year than in previous years, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows. But as Monday’s filing deadline approaches, the poll shows that 54 percent believe their tax bills are either somewhat fair or very fair, compared with 46 percent who say they are unfair. Should taxes be raised to eat into huge federal deficits? Among the public, 62 percent say they favor cutting government services to sop up the red ink. Just 29 percent
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A new TV network for rich boys with toys

Discovery Communications Inc. is launching a television network for rich guys and their toys. Called Velocity, the new network will replace the current network HD Theater in some 40 million homes on Sept. 25, Discovery officials said Thursday. The target audience is men with incomes of $150,000 a year and more. “We just felt like this was a space missing in the marketplace,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications. HD Theater was launched in 2002 with the specific purpose of showing high-definition versions of programs on other Discovery networks. The rapid adoption of high-def by consumers, and
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