GOP Drops Demand For Offsetting Payroll Tax Cut - Facing emboldened Democratic negotiators and a quickly thinning legislative calendar, House Republican leaders have offered to extend the payroll tax holiday through the end of the year without paying for it. The development represents a dramatic reversal for GOP leaders, who nearly allowed the payroll tax cut to lapse in December in part because of their insistence that the package be financially offset. [...] That’s a huge concession to legislative and political realities, and a tacit admission that Republican leaders desparately want to avoid another no-win fight over renewing a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits the middle class.
Jon Stewart mocks Santorum’s hypocrisy in contraception spat - Stewart on the Catholic Church’s opposition: “Yes, we are men of God, that money must not be used for contraception. That money has been set aside for out of court alter boy settlements and of course some priest relocations.” On the media reporting that “many Catholics” are against it: “Seriously, a firestorm among many Catholics? Or the old dudes who run it?” Stewart then asked.
Rick Santorum vs Catholics – Rick Santorum, Driver of Bulldozers - There’s the usual poor-widdle-me defensiveness. (Does anybody who lived through the past 30 years really see liberalism as a “bulldozer”?) And then this: “A penchant for aggressive and sanctimonious use of power is always a temptation in politics, though much more so for progressives than conservatives. Rick Santorum doesn’t need a bulldozer to sustain and reinforce marriage. He only needs to defend what is already in place. The defending rather than invading character of conservatism is one reason why it is so much less likely to inflate the power of the state. Conservatism largely involves sustaining things and tending to them.” Yes, over the past two weeks, as a passel of celibates has decided that their Presbyterian janitors and Jehovah’s Witness orderlies have to abide by a discredited doctrinal prohibition based in a twisted view of human sexuality, I have noticed the non-intrusive nature of organized religion.
Female Republican Senators go rogue, back Obama on contraceptives - Two female Republican members of the U.S. Senate, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, have broken rank with their party and come out in favor of a new rule issued by the Obama Administration that requires private health insurers to fully pay for the cost of contraception products. The two lawmakers extended their support after the administration tweaked its rule to exempt religious non-profits from paying any part of the cost for contraception.
White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew: ‘There’s Pretty Broad Agreement That the Time for Austerity is Not Today’ - “…I think that there’s pretty broad agreement that the time for austerity is not today. We need to be on a path where over the next several years we bring our deficit under control. Right now we have a recovery that’s taking root and if we were to put in austerity measures right now, it would take the economy in the wrong way. So the New York Times, for example, has very much argued that 2012, 2013 is not the time for austerity.The challenge is how do you do two things at the same time. How do you put money forward for things like the payroll tax holiday, for things like getting a jump-start on infrastructure, for building schools, and make the decisions for long-term deficit reduction. The president’s proposed a plan that would do that. He was willing over the course of last year to negotiate a bipartisan agreement that would do it.”
Flu season finally arrives, CDC reports - The flu season may finally be picking up steam after the slowest start in nearly three decades, a new government report suggests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an uptick in the number of samples testing positive for the virus — 10.5 percent in the first week of February versus 7.6 percent the week before. That suggests that the flu season is just off to a late start, CDC researchers say. Interestingly, it’s only the second time in 29 years that the percentage of respiratory samples testing positive remained under 10 percent through January.
Polls show Rick Santorum virtually tied with Mitt Romney nationally - With two new polls showing underdog Rick Santorum gaining on front-runner Mitt Romney among Republicans nationally, the contenders for the GOP presidential nomination are taking advantage of a lull between primary contests to stockpile resources and rally supporters for the next phase of the race. Separate surveys released Monday by Gallup and the Pew Research Center suggest that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, and Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, are virtually tied.
Rick Santorum’s taken a large lead in Michigan’s upcoming Republican
primary - He’s at 39% to 24% for Mitt Romney, 12% for Ron Paul, and 11% for Newt Gingrich. Santorum’s rise is attributable to two major factors… // Note: PDF doc
Bob Cesca - This is hilarious. Every time I read about Republicans rallying around Santorum it makes me smile ear-to-ear because it would be like the Democrats nominating Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich — a fringe candidate who has no chance of winning and every chance of generating a massive landslide in favor of the other candidate. No one in the moderate swing states will pay attention to fringe candidates of either party. That’s why it’s suicide to nominate them. That’s why Kucinich on the left, Ron Paul on the right, etc, etc, will never be nominated by their party. And now it looks increasingly good for Santorum to actually squeak out an upset nomination here. Unbelievable, especially for a guy who was laughed out of Pennsylvania in 2006, and now he might actually win this thing.
Romney Thinks Mandatory Drug Testing For Welfare Recipients Is ‘An Excellent Idea’ - Romney’s support for blindly drug-testing welfare recipients dates back at least two decades, to his failed 1994 campaign for the US Senate. Civil rights advocates, meanwhile, have been quick to challenge the constitutionality of drug testing bills that were passed last year, and courts blocked similar bills from being implemented in Florida and Michigan. Rather than saving states money or ensuring taxpayer dollars aren’t used to purchase drugs, mandatory testing laws have succeeded only in proving that welfare recipients are actually less likely to use drugs than the public at large, and implementing laws requiring drug testing is costing states like Florida money they don’t have. // Note: George Romney really deserved a better son.
Romney Gets The Santorum Treatment - Courtesy of the CrateGate scandal, Mitt Romney is now the target of a Google-bomb campaign too. The back-story: We all know the sad story of Seamus, the Romney family Irish Setter who was strapped to the top of the Romney station wagon for at least one 12-hour trip to Canada – and who at least once pooped himself in fear and, after being given an “emotion-free” hosing down by Mitt Romney, was placed once more atop the car for more terrifying hours on the highway.