Politics & Government

Political news

The IRS was in the hot seat Friday, with its outgoing acting commissioner testifying before a House committee. A Senate panel is scheduled for Tuesday. Congress is prodding to find out why the agency singled out conservative groups for special scrutiny.

Tesla Motors, the American maker of luxury electric cars, has been riding a wave of good publicity.

Its Model S sedan (base priced at $62,400, after federal tax credits) was just named Motor Trend Car of the Year. Reviewers at Consumer Reports gave the lithium-ion battery powered vehicle a rave.

And the company, headed by billionaire innovator Elon Musk, 41, posted a profit for the first time in its 10-year history — powered in part by zero-emission environmental credits.

images courtesy of the authors

David Brooks and EJ Dionne disagree with each other – for a living. 

NPR's Peter Overby reports on the Congressional testimony of IRS officials in response to the scandal over special scrutiny of tea party groups. Underneath all the politics, there's a policy question that hasn't been addressed.



This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. There are three simultaneous controversies rattling the Obama administration this week: the IRS, the phone records of the AP reporters, and Benghazi. NPR's White House correspondent Ari Shapiro joins us. Ari, thanks for being with us.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: My pleasure, Scott.

It's been a long slog already for the bipartisan immigration overhaul proposed by the Senate's Gang of Eight.

The legislation has been the target of more than 300 amendments during days of debate and votes by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But while the bill has largely held its own so far, its prospects for getting through Congress remain uncertain.

In Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy's view, the immigration overhaul is "moving very well."

"It's moving a lot faster than people said it would," says Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

Gov. Walker signed into law on Friday, a measure allowing employers to reduce workers' hours, rather than laying them off, when business is slow.

Under the new law, workers could receive state unemployment benefits, for the hours lost. Employers would have to continue providing health insurance coverage and retirement plans.

According to the governor, the work-share program could save the state's unemployment reserve fund nearly five million dollars. He says 24 other states operate similar programs.

In February, when Walker administration outlined its plan to change the Medicaid program in Wisconsin, it estimated the additional cost at $664 million during the next two-year state budget.

Now, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau puts the likely total at $734 million.

The administration rejected federal money to expand the state's Medicaid offerings, so that it covered all people living at up to 130% of the poverty level. The governor's plan, is to cover all households with incomes up to 100% of the poverty line, and then move the others into the federal marketplace.

This weekend, President Obama will give a speech that very likely won't be about the controversies of the moment.

The House Ways and Means Committee became the first oversight panel in Congress to weigh in on the IRS tax-exempt group controversy on Friday morning.

President Obama's first term was free from the kind of scandal that consumes every ounce of political oxygen in Washington. Now, in light of a trio of controversies, his supporters find themselves in the uncomfortable and unaccustomed position of having to defend some hard-to-defend events.

Democrats have offered up a range of responses. They view the issues — Benghazi, the IRS and the Justice Department snooping on The Associated Press — as separate issues that shouldn't be lumped together.

You might think that everything would have changed for the chemicals industry on April 16, 1947. That was the day of the Texas City Disaster, the worst industrial accident in U.S. history. A ship loaded with ammonium nitrate — the same chemical that appears to have caused the disaster last month in West, Texas — exploded. The ship sparked a chain reaction of blasts at chemical facilities onshore, creating what a newsreel at the time called "a holocaust that baffles description."

Heritage Action, the political activist offshoot of the conservative Heritage Foundation, has some advice for House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor: focus on the scandals plaguing the Obama administration and stay away from legislation that could "highlight major schisms" within the House Republican Conference.



I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we go to Ohio where black business owners are meeting to swap some new ideas. Basketball legend Magic Johnson even got a lead on an investment there. We'll tell you more about that in just a few minutes. But first, House Republicans voted yesterday to repeal President Obama's signature healthcare law - again.

Could The President's Week Get Any Worse?

May 17, 2013



I'm Celeste Headlee. This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Michel Martin is away and it is time yet again for a visit to the Barbershop. That's where the guys talk about what's in the news, what's on their minds.