Right now, it's all about the 2010 midterm elections... or is it? As soon as the polls close on November 2 and the winners are announced, the focus will shift to the presidential race of 2012.
Even though that may seem far away... for some, the presidential campaign has already begun.
Potential Republican hopefuls are already logging multiple visits to key early states - like Iowa and New Hampshire.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.... he's set to make his fifth visit to Iowa next week... he's also made three trips to New Hampshire.
Pawlenty insists he won't decide whether or not to run until early next year. Maybe… but in the meantime he's working it.... big-time. Meeting local politicians, shaking hands with voters, making speeches about how to fix the country, talking about his blue-collar background, raising money for his political action committee... you get the idea.
And Pawlenty is not the only one. Far from it.
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Remember when Nancy Pelosi promised to "drain the swamp" after the Democrats took control of the House a few years back? Well turns out some of her high-profile Democratic colleagues may be swimming in that very swamp.
Two senior Democrats in the House of Representatives now face possible ethics trials – which is just about the last thing Democrats need headed into what's already shaping up to be a brutal midterm election.
Long-time New York Congressman Charlie Rangel has been formally charged with 13 counts of violating House ethics rules... including not paying taxes on rental income from the Dominican Republic.
Several House Democrats have already called on Rangel, a 20-term veteran, to resign.... and President Obama says he hopes Rangel can "end his career with dignity."
Then there's California Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Today, the ethics panel charged her with breaking House rules by using her position to get federal bailout money for a bank with ties to her husband.
The British Prime Minister broke protocol big time during his trip to the U.S. - he flew commercial.
As one British reporter put it, David Cameron was quote "slumming it in business class" on the flight from London to Washington.
How refreshing. Cameron didn't take his own private jet, he didn't even fly first class. Turns out Cameron is actually walking the walk when it comes to fiscal austerity. Britain, like much of Europe, is in the midst of making drastic cuts to many government programs in order to keep its economy afloat.
Under normal circumstances, Prime Ministers travel on their own planes. They either charter a Boeing 747 or 767 or use military jets. But Downing Street officials say that Cameron's commercial flight saved $300,000. In the grand scheme of things, the amount isn't that significant - but the gesture is huge.
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After weeks of haggling - the Senate is one step closer to extending unemployment benefits.
Two Republicans joined Democrats - in breaking the GOP filibuster - against extending the benefits through November. Republican leaders had earlier blocked a vote several times. They argue that any benefits extension should be offset by spending cuts. And they have a point.
This nation is quickly headed down the road to insolvency. We're more than $13 trillion in debt. And because the Democrats didn't bother to offer a way to pay for the benefits extension, another $34 billion will simply be added to the deficit.
President Obama tore into Republicans ahead of the vote... arguing that they were operating on a "misguided notion" that a new bill would discourage people from looking for work. Mr. Obama says the unemployed aren't looking for a handout, that they desperately want to work. The president described the GOP as hypocrites for voting for these benefits under Pres. Bush... but not now.
In the nine years since the September 11 terror attacks, the U.S. intelligence community has become so large that it's unmanageable, redundant and inefficient. Not unlike the rest of the federal government.
The Washington Post reports on a stunning two-year investigation of a so-called top secret America that's hidden from the public and lacking in real oversight.
There are five Republicans generally viewed as the most likely contenders for the 2012 presidential nomination.
Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana. Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts – who actually finished his term of office and was a hugely successful businessman. Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, who actually finished his term of office.
See where this is going?
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.
But the most popular of the Republicans seen vying for the nomination in 2012 is... you guessed it... Sarah Palin. And it's not even close.
Palin, who describes herself as a mama grizzly bear, has a whopping 76 percent favorable rating among Republicans, according to a new Gallup poll.
Compare that to Huckabee, who gets a 65 percent favorable rating, Gingrich 64 percent followed by Romney with 54 percent and Jindal with 45 percent.
The White House is backing a race-based admissions policy at one public university.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration has asked a federal appeals court to uphold the system at the University of Texas at Austin.
The case was brought by two white students who were rejected for admission at the Austin campus. 75 percent of students are admitted on academic grounds if they rank in the top 10% of their high school class... but the rest are admitted through a so-called "holistic" evaluation that takes factors like race or ethnic identity into account.
These white students say the admissions policy violated the federal civil rights law. So far, a district judge has rejected their claim... but it's possible this thing could wind up before the Supreme Court.
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Just when you think you've seen it all in Washington... along comes something like this:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may try to pass the controversial health care reform bill without making members vote on it. Unbelievable.
Pelosi says she might use a procedural tactic where the House will vote on the package of fixes to the Senate bill... and then that vote would signify that lawmakers "deem" the health care bill to be passed.
Politically speaking, this is beyond sleazy. It's meant to protect Democrats – especially those up for re-election in November – from having to make a tough vote. Pelosi says of this process, "I like it... because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill." In Nancy Pelosi's world, accountability is a dirty word.
The Senate bill, of course, contains many provisions that are unpopular among some House Democrats – including language on abortion funding and taxes on high-cost insurance plans.
When it comes to immigration reform, are worker ID cards a good idea? (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
If you think health care reform is ugly, just wait until Congress tries immigration reform again.
The Senate has begun work on an immigration bill and at the center of this new plan is a controversial requirement for all American workers to get identification cards.
It's meant to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants. Right. If you think the corporations that make huge profits on the backs of an illegal alien workforce are going to let something like that get through, think again.
Under the plan - all legal workers, including citizens and immigrants, would have to get an ID card that includes biometric information like fingerprints.
The Wall Street Journal reports the card would be phased in among all workers, including teens; and among all employers, starting with industries that rely on an illegal immigrant workforce. Now there's an idea.
Supporters say such a worker ID card would be a way to guarantee illegal immigrants don't come here for jobs because they wouldn't be able to get them.
Everything blue is red again... well, sort of.
Politico reports that the electoral map – which Pres. Obama remade back in 2008 – is returning to its old patterns.
During the presidential campaign, there was lots of talk about how Barack Obama had changed the playing field and put several so-called red states into play.
By winning in places like Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia and the Mountain West, Obama didn't need to rely on states that had decided previous elections, like Florida and Ohio.
Fast forward a year and a half... Democrats are facing some tough races for Congress and governorships in November in these very same states. No doubt Republicans are loving it, with one congressman saying: "One election doesn't make realignment."
But Democrats insist these states that used to be red will be competitive now, although some worry that without Pres. Obama on the ballot, young voters and African-Americans are more likely to sit this one out.