–Alex feels out the House Republican freshmen class through two engaging profiles and, I think, gets at the crux of their importance in the ongoing budget battle here:
When Republican House leaders presented a budget plan that would have cut $32 billion in seven months — a deep whack, but less than the GOP had pledged — it spurred rumblings of a freshman revolt. So Boehner bowed to their demands and boosted the figure to $61 billion…. “If we stick together on everything,” Walsh says, “our leadership is screwed.”
–More from this week’s magazine hitting newsstands tomorrow: Dueling pieces on the state of these United States of ours: Zakaria on decline, Von Drehle on resilience. Don’t be shy, let us send you a copy.
–Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka, has announced won’t seek re-election. Though they face a tough cycle, national Democrats are doing a good job of getting their fence-straddling members to decide about retirement early on. In another year, former Republican governor Lina Lingle would have a good shot at this seat, but with Obama’s native state turning out for another presidential vote, it’s hard to see how the Dems don’t hang onto this one.
–A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds what we already knew: Cutting entitlements isn’t popular, Obama’s approval rating hover near 50%, Americans a generally supportive of collective bargaining rights, and economic growth remains issue #1.
–Attention has been focused on the states where the political fight with labor has been bloodiest. But in Ohio, where Democrats lack the numbers in the statehouse to deny Republicans a quorum (or raise a nationally heard ruckus), a bill stripping public unions of bargaining rights has just passed the senate and is cruising toward final approval in the house.
–Here’s another one: “10% of Medicare payments are fraudulent or improper.”
–The U.S. backs away from talk of a no-fly zone in Libya.
–Ron Paul vs. Ben Bernanke round one: “Define the dollar.”