Don’t expect much from Obama’s economic tour

It’s hard to find anyone who thinks President Barack Obama’s series of heavily promoted economic speeches will be the flash point that unclogs the system in Washington — including the president. A day after he kicked off the tour in Illinois and Missouri, Obama was traveling Thursday to a seaport in Jacksonville, Fla., to yet again deride the wide gulf between his vision for a new American prosperity driven by a burgeoning middle class and the intense gridlock snarling up Congress. “With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,”
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Senate avoids a meltdown…for now

A bipartisan Senate pact has smoothed the confirmation path for a batch of President Barack Obama’s nominations and removed, for now, a Democratic threat to impose procedural changes weakening minority Republicans’ clout. Yet there are no guarantees that the conflict won’t flare anew the next time a White House appointment stirs controversy. A day after both parties celebrated an agreement averting a bitter fight over Senate rules, the chamber planned to vote Wednesday on one of Obama’s picks, Fred Hochberg to be president of the Export-Import Bank. Also possible this week are roll calls on Labor Secretary-designate Tom Perez and
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Senators head for rowdy showdown on rule changes

Senators prepared for a potentially rancorous day Tuesday — even by recent standards of partisan unpleasantness — as Democratic leaders threatened to change filibuster rules to stop Republicans from blocking White House nominees for top executive jobs. Several Senate votes were scheduled to test whether Republicans will allow simple-majority confirmations of a handful of long-stalled nominations. Some senators held out hopes for a breakthrough early Tuesday after one didn’t come in a rare, three-hour private meeting of nearly all 100 senators Monday night. If neither side retreats, the two parties could be on a collision course, with potentially big ramifications
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Reid heads for rules showdown in Senate

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is driving his chamber toward rule changes that would help President Barack Obama win confirmation for some of his nominees for posts overseeing workers’ and consumers’ rights. But the changes might strip future senators of their prized ability to delay action. Reid, D-Nev., planned to continue his push to let nominees win approval with a simple majority of senators’ backing instead of the 60-vote threshold that has stalled many nominations. All 100 senators have been invited to a closed-to-the-public meeting Monday evening to seek a compromise on how to approach those nominated to serve in
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Can prostitute-loving Eliot Spitzer return to office? Sadly, yes.

Whoremonger Eliot Spitzer delivered more than 27,000 signatures to New York officials Thursday, more than enough needed to get on the ballot for his planned return to politics. Does this mean nearly 30,000 people think its OK for a former New York governor who resigned in disgrace after revelations that he dallied repeatedly with high-priced call girls on taxpayer expense, to return to public office. Possibly, or it may just mean that the current crop of candidates for elected office is so bad that even a man who screwed whores behind his wife’s back is better than the other choices.
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Republicans say Obama ignores Constitution, exceeds authority

In the courts of law and public opinion, congressional Republicans increasingly accuse President Barack Obama of exceeding his constitutional authority for the benefit of special interests, most recently by delaying a requirement for businesses to provide health care for their workers. In one instance, Senate Republicans formally backed a lawsuit challenging the president’s appointment of three members of the National Labor Relations Board without confirmation. The Supreme Court has agreed to review a ruling in the case, which found that Obama overstepped his bounds. Most recently, the White House’s decision to postpone a key part of the president’s health care
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McConnell forms uneasy but necessary alliance with Paul

To cover his political flank, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has forged an alliance with tea party darling Rand Paul, picked up support from other national tea party leaders and brought in a campaign manager from the upper echelons of the tea party movement. The GOP’s fiscally conservative wing has proven particularly powerful in Kentucky, and elsewhere it has felled incumbents including McConnell’s longtime Republican colleague U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana. But McConnell’s efforts to make inroads with the tea party movement have clearly paid off, virtually ensuring that no would-be challenger can get the kind of infusion of
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Can Congress overcome its petty differences and actually do something?

Republicans and Democrats put goodwill to the test as Congress returns this week to potentially incendiary fights over nominations, unresolved disputes over student loans and the farm bill, and the uncertainty of whether lawmakers have the political will to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws. The rare cooperation on display in the Senate last month with passage of a bipartisan immigration bill could be wiped out immediately if Majority Leader Harry Reid, frustrated with minority Republicans’ delaying tactics on judges and nominations, tries to change the Senate rules by scrapping the three-fifths majority for a simple majority. Republican leader Mitch McConnell
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Can the rabid right-wing GOP stop immigration reform?

Senate Republicans are split over the immigration bill steaming toward approval at week’s end, a divide that renders the ultimate fate of White House-backed legislation unpredictable in the House and complicates the party’s ability to broaden its appeal among Hispanic voters. To some Republicans, the strength of Senate GOP support for the bill is all but irrelevant to its prospects in the House. Conservatives there hold a majority and generally oppose a core provision in the Senate measure, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally. Any such impact is “greatly overrated,” said Missouri Sen. Roy
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Republicans want Obamacare at front of 2014 races

If Republicans were writing a movie script for next year’s congressional elections, the working title might be “2014: Apocalypse of Obamacare.” The plot: The rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law turns into such a disaster that enraged voters rebuke him by rewarding the GOP with undisputed control of Congress. But there’s a risk for Republicans if they’re wrong and the Affordable Care Act works reasonably well, particularly in states that have embraced it. Republicans might be seen as obstinately standing in the way of progress. The law already has been a political prop in two election seasons, but
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