Kochs double down; Obama fails at campaign finance reform; the Pentagon goes gay; and other top Friday stories
Obama ties Romney to Bush: On the heels of a new poll showing that most Americans still blame George W. Bush for the recession, President Obama used his big economics speech in Ohio yesterday to tie the new GOP presidential nominee to his predecessor. Both spoke in Ohio and while Romney used his remarks, which hewed close to his stump, to advance the argument that the election should be a referendum on the president, “Obama’s speech was an effort to subvert that dynamic: to argue that while Mitt Romney might be the challenger, Republican policies — or at least their aftermath — are, in a way, the incumbent,” the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein notes.
“Now, Governor Romney and his allies in Congress believe deeply in the theory we tried during the last decade, the theory that the best way to grow the economy is from the top down,” Obama said, taking a direct shot at “trickle-down economics.”
The New Republic’s John Cohn says the dueling speeches underscore that, “boy, the contrast is stark.” “The difference between Romney’s vision and Obama’s is tens of millions of people losing health insurance; less money for a variety of federal programs that help young people pay for college and enable poor people to get food; fewer dollars for repairing broken down bridges and infrastructure; and much, much bigger tax cuts for wealthy Americans,” he writes, providing evidence after conservatives had dismissed Obama’s claims as “spin.”
Koch network could spend over $400 million: Politico’s Ken Vogel has a big look “inside Koch world,” the network run by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, which has “increasingly come to resemble its own political party.” The donor network and affiliated groups will meet in San Diego later this month for a secret convention of sorts as the Kochs seek to expand their influence in new groups like the libertarian CATO Institute, and a handful of legacy conservative groups that haven’t been associated with the Kochs before. The growing ambition of the syndicate could push them over their stated goal of raising and spending $395 million this year.
What global warming? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that last month was the second-warmest May since record-keeping began in 1880. Temperatures were higher in almost every region of the world. Even scarier, NOAA said “last month was the 36th consecutive May and 327th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average.”
Obama loses campaign finance watchdogs: Perhaps it was inevitable. Politico’s Dave Levinthal reports: “Barack Obama has long cast himself as a warrior against the influence of big money in politics. But as the 2012 election is saturated by billions of dollars, campaign-finance reformers have largely lost faith in a president they say is willfully neglecting his reformist agenda while cynically embracing key elements of a new, laissez-faire election system he’s long demonized.” Beyond his endorsement of the super PAC backing his reelection bid, the reformers point to a long list of failures in this space: He has yet to successfully appoint a new FEC commissioner (let alone reform the hopelessly toothless agency), he has not reformed the IRS’ laughable rules governing political nonprofits, he ditched an executive order to make government contractors reveal their political spending, he ditched efforts to appoint an “ethics czar,” and he has made no proposal to fix the nation’s public financing system (which he killed in 2008 when he chose not to take it).
Pentagon honors gay pride month: Just two summers ago, gay men and women would have been kicked out of the military if they came out — this year, the Pentagon has marked June as gay pride month and is saluting the service members it forced in the closet for decades. ”Now that we’ve repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ he feels it’s important to find a way this month to recognize the service and professionalism of gay and lesbian troops,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby.
Obama himself is getting in on the action too, hosting a reception at the White House today to honor Gay Pride Month.
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Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
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Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
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A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
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Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
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Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
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O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
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Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
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When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
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A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
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