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The GOP's Counter-Offer: Associated Press: "House Republicans on Monday proposed a new 10-year, $2.2 trillion blueprint to President Barack Obama that calls for increasing the eligibility age for Medicare and lowering cost-of-living hikes for Social Security benefits. The proposal ... comes in response to Obama's offer last week to hike taxes by $1.6 trillion over the coming decade but largely exempt Medicare and Social Security from budget cuts. The GOP plan also proposes to raise $800 billion in higher tax revenue over the decade but it would keep the Bush-era tax cuts—including those for wealthier earners targeted by Obama—in place for now."
Instant Analysis, I: Slate's Matthew Ygelsias: "Basically Boehner is looking to put a proposal on the table that's less far-reaching than the Ryan budget without backing off the House GOP's support for said budget. Now a huge problem here is, as ever, on the tax side. You could raise almost $800 billion by capping deductions at $50,000 a year, and the vast majority of that money would come from rich people, but it would be inconsistent with Obama's pledge to raise money exclusively from rich people. But that doesn't include lowering rates. The way Simpson-Bowles managed to get to rate-lowering, revenue-raising tax policy was by first assuming the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the rich and then doing base-broadening reform. I'd be very interested to see what kind of proposal Boehner has in mind that would meet his criteria."
Instant Analysis, II: Slate's David Weigel: "The best way to read President Obama's leaked offer to the GOP last week was: 'You want to cut Medicare, you're going to have to propose it first.' The House GOP has done so, and gone not to the Bowles-Simpson proposal, but to the proposal by the Democratic member of the pair. ... The Republicans are offering more than they did in 2011, and they're wearing the 'painful cuts' hairshirts. But they leave aside the issue of top-end Bush tax rates. They try to move the conversation back to generic 'revenue,' which might mean something different to them than it meant to Bowles."
Instant Analysis, III: Politico's Jake Sherman and Carrie Budoff Brown: "Politically, it’s a significant move for House Republicans. It will remove the White House talking point that the GOP has no plan. Secondarily, the party is making public its desire to tweak entitlement programs like Medicare, which is more than the White House has been willing to do."
The Latest Signs of Just How Bad Things Are In Syria, Part I: New York Times: "The Obama administration said Monday that it is worried that Syria’s embattled government may be preparing to use chemical weapons against the opposition and warned that doing so 'would cross a red line for the United States' and prompt American action. The White House said that some recent actions by the government of President Bashar al-Assad were indicators that such weapons could be deployed soon, following earlier reports that intelligence agencies had noticed signs of activity at chemical weapons sites."
Part II: Reuters: "The United Nations said on Monday it was suspending its aid operations in Syria and withdrawing all non-essential international staff due to the worsening security situation. Up to 25 of about 100 foreign staff could leave this week, it said, adding that more armored vehicles were needed after attacks in recent weeks on humanitarian aid convoys and the hijacking of goods or vehicles. ... In all, the world body deploys more than 1,000 national and international staff in Syria, but movement and communications have become more difficult due to intensified fighting near the capital and a 48-hour Internet blackout last week, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said."
The Royal Baby, Questions Asked and Answered: As we're guessing you've already heard by now, Prince William and Kate Middleton are expecting their first child. The pregnancy is still in its early stages, but the royal family had to get out in front of the news after Kate was admitted to the hospital this morning for "hyperemesis gravidarum." What the heck is that that? Basically, really, really, really bad morning sickness. One (of many) possible causes could be that the duchess is pregnant with twins. If that happens, which one would be first in line to be the next king or queen? We're glad you asked.
The Daily Goes Bust: Rupert Murdoch's effort to recreate the newspaper for the tablet era will call it quits later this month, a little less than two years after the News Corp. publication launched to great fanfare that ultimately never translated into readers or revenue. The announcement comes as News Corp. undergoes pretty massive organizational changes in the lead up to the media empire's upcoming split into two separate entities, one made up of its publishing assets and the other consisting of its television and film business.
Still Waiting on SCOTUS: Those on both sides of the gay marriage debate will have to wait at least a few more days to learn whether the Supreme Court will take up the issue. The always excellent SCOTUSblog explains: "The Supreme Court on Monday released additional orders from its Friday Conference, but the list did not show any action on the ten cases dealing with the same-sex marriage issue. ... The Court later Monday morning posted on its electronic docket the rescheduling of the cases for consideration at the Justices’ Conference this Friday morning. An announcement could come later that day, after that session, or on the following Monday."
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Bad Astronomy: Curiosity Finds Cool Chemistry on Mars but No Organics
Bad Astronomy: Voyager 1 Spacecraft on the Doorstep to Interstellar Space
Brow Beat: The Year in Pop in 8 Minutes
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