Battle of the Budgets: Washington Post: "The 10-year spending plan released Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan is virtually identical to last year’s GOP budget: It would defund President Obama’s health-care initiative, end guaranteed Medicare coverage for future retirees and sharply restrain spending on the poor, college students and federal workers. The one big new development: Ryan’s latest blueprint would balance the budget, producing a small surplus in 2023 — a goal achieved not primarily through deeper spending cuts, but by the addition of more than $3.2 trillion in new tax revenue. The tax hike is already in effect. Ryan (R-Wis.) merely adopts new revenue projections laid out by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in the wake of a year-end deal to raise rates on income over $450,000. But the impact on his budget is huge."
The Democrats' Plan: The Hill: "The first budget from Senate Democrats in four years includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes but would not balance the budget. The blueprint unveiled by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Tuesday to her Democratic colleagues would also turn off the next nine years of the sequester and replace those spending cuts with a 50-50 mix of tax increases and spending cuts. The budget would dedicate $100 billion to economic stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and job training. Murray argues that her budget cuts $1.85 trillion from deficits over 10 years. But once the sequester cuts are turned off, Murray’s budget appears to reduce deficits by about $800 billion, using the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline. The Murray budget does not contain net spending cuts with the sequester turned off."
"Wasting" Obama's Time: National Journal's Ron Fournier: "He is dining with Republicans after advisers openly mocked suggestions that he do so. He is visiting Capitol Hill after telling aides that such a gesture was beneath him and the dignity of his office. ... Obama’s sudden burst of public outreach coincides with a drop in his approval ratings, noted first by Democratic pollsters advising the White House last week and now surfacing in a spate of public polls. This raises the uncomfortable question: Is this schmooze-a-thon a legitimate act of humility and leadership or a cynical public display? I can’t answer that question because I don’t pretend to know Obama’s state of mind. I can tell you that some of his advisers are no more convinced that this strategy will work than they were a few days ago. 'This is a joke. We’re wasting the president’s time and ours,' complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. 'I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we’re doing it for you.'
Black Smoke, No Pope: New York Times: "The cardinals of the Catholic Church held their first ballot on Tuesday to elect a pope, with black smoke signaling no winner on the first day of their conclave inside the Sistine Chapel. ... The outcome was expected, since all 115 of the cardinals are theoretically candidates, and the winner must receive two-thirds, or 77, of the votes. In past modern conclaves, the first ballot essentially served as a primary, when a number of cardinals emerged as leading vote-getters. Subsequent rounds made clear where the votes were flowing. The smoke will be white when a pope is elected. The cardinals, who are staying in seclusion in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence, will return to the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday morning. The schedule calls for two rounds of voting in the morning and two in the evening, as needed."
Colorado's Civil Unions: Denver Post: "The Colorado House voted 39-26 Tuesday to allow gay couples to form civil unions despite protests from Republicans that the issue will wind up in court because it doesn't offer religious exemptions. ... All 37 Democrats and two of the 28 Republicans supported civil unions ... [The bill] now goes to Democratic Gov. Hickenlooper who has long been supportive of gay rights. A bill-signing ceremony is expected sometime this month. The bill becomes law on May 1. Colorado now becomes one of 18 states that offer recognition of same -sex couples, either through marriage or civil unions..."
The Slatest: Brooklyn Teen's Death Sparks NYPD Protests
The 'Cannibal Cop': Associated Press: "Police Officer Gilbert Valle's lawyers said he was just spinning sick and twisted fantasies for his own pleasure when he chatted online about abducting, roasting and eating women. A jury, though, decided he was deadly serious. Valle, 28, was convicted Tuesday of conspiracy in a macabre case that opened a window on a shocking Internet world of cannibalism fetishists. He could get life in prison at sentencing June 19 but is likely to face much less."
Gun Control Action: Washington Post: "The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved Democratic-sponsored measures to expand the nation’s gun background check system and a federal program that funds school security plans, action that comes as most Americans continue to support stricter gun laws, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The 18-member committee referred the background check bill to the full Senate on a party-line vote of 10 to 8 and later passed the school security bill 14 to 4. Scheduling conflicts with other committee hearings postponed a showdown until Thursday on the most controversial proposal under consideration, a ban on hundreds of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips."
A Bush on the Ballot: Wall Street Journal: "George P. Bush is officially running for Texas land commissioner — ending months of speculation about which statewide office the grandson of one former president and nephew of another planned to seek. An attorney from Fort Worth and Spanish-speaker whose mother, Columba Bush, is originally from Mexico, Mr. Bush is considered a rising star among conservative Hispanics. Mr. Bush, 36 years old, is the son of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who is considered a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate. He is the nephew of former President George W. Bush and the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush."
The Return of the Twinkie: Chicago Tribune: "The new owner of Hostess Brands Inc's snack cakes hopes to have Twinkies back on U.S. store shelves by this summer, according to a member of the purchasing group. 'Our family is thrilled to have the opportunity to reestablish these iconic brands with new creative marketing ideas and renewed sales efforts and investment,' Daren Metropoulos, a principal at his family's private equity firm, told Reuters in an email on Tuesday.... Daren's father, Dean Metropoulos, teamed up with Apollo Global Management to offer $410 million for Twinkies and other snack cakes. Their offer was to serve as the minimum offer for the business but no other bidders emerged."
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