Rep. Paul Ryan‘s (R-WI) plan to end Medicare is deepening a rift in the GOP party “over how hard to push a priority for the House GOP majority.” Presidential candidate Newt Gingirch’s dismissal of the plan as “right-wing social engineering” and the subsequent backlash “comes as lawmakers are sorting through the political ramifications” from the plan’s unpopularity.
Gingrich released an impromptu video seeking to clarify his stance on an individual health care mandate yesterday, just a day after supporting the mandate on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I am for the repeal of Obamacare and I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich also walked back his comments on the House GOP’s Medicare overhaul , which he called “radical” Sunday. The Wall Street Journal wasn’t fond of the comments, saying he “chose to throw his former allies in the GOP House not so much under the bus as off the Grand Canyon rim.” Gingrich said he “probably used too strong language.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to bring up a proposal today in the Senate that would end billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for the largest oil companies. The bill needs sixty votes to reach cloture, and already some dissident Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu (LA) are vowing to oppose it.
The Obama administration is accelerating direct talks with the Taliban in hopes of enabling President Obama “to report progress toward settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.” The Taliban asserted preference for direct negotiations and according to an Afghan official, a U.S. representative attended at least 3 recent meetings with the Taliban.
Former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said he wouldn’t cut the defense budget as president. Still, Romney admitted there’s “a lot of waste” in the Pentagon and that finding efficiencies is accetable.
Facing a 9.9% unemployment rate, South Carolina lawmakers have decided to try to cut unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks “while simultaneously cutting unemployment surtaxes for businesses.” Michigan and Missouri also cut aid to 20 weeks, and Florida and Arkansas have reduced benefits as well. State Sen. Kevin Bryant (R), who proposed the measure, called it “a good balance.”
And finally: The Texas legislature is considering a law that would legalize the act of catching a catfish with your bare hand . The art of so-called “noodling” has passed the House and is awaiting consideration in the Senate, where antinoodlers are trying to bury the provision.