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4:35 PM ET, February 20, 2013

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 Top Items: 
Byron York / Washington Examiner:
The GOP's astonishingly bad message on sequester cuts … In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner describes the upcoming sequester as a policy “that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more.”  —  Which leads to the question …
RELATED:
John Boehner / Wall Street Journal:
The President Is Raging Against a Budget Crisis He Created  —  Obama invented the ‘sequester’ in the summer of 2011 to avoid facing up to America's spending problem.  —  A week from now, a dramatic new federal policy is set to go into effect that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more.
John Avlon / The Daily Beast:
The PowerPoint That Proves It's Not Obama's Sequester After All  —  Republicans have taken to calling the deep cuts that could reverse our hard-won economic recovery 'Obama's Sequester.' But a July 2011 PowerPoint obtained by John Avlon shows the opposite may be true.
Alexander Bolton / The Hill:
Shutdown isn't fight GOP wants  —  Republicans have decided that the sequester scheduled for March 1 — not a government-funding bill due at the end of March — is where they'll make their stand on spending cuts.  —  After the bruising political battles of the last Congress …
Chris Cillizza / The Fix:
Why Congress won't win a sequester showdown with President Obama — in 3 easy steps  —  In politics, the simplest answer is almost always the right one.  —  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, left, and House Speaker John Boehner  —  And that maxim is why Republicans in Congress …
Kori Schulman / White House.gov Blog:
Setting the Record Straight About the Sequester
Discussion: NBC Politics
Jeremy Herb / The Hill:
Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilians
Zachary A. Goldfarb / Washington Post:
Sequester just over a week away, but blame game has already begun
Dan Friedman / NY Daily News:
‘Friends of Hamas’: My role in the birth of a rumor  —  A Daily News reporter explains how he inadvertently created the myth that Chuck Hagel spoke to a non-existent group.  —  Daily News reporter Dan Friedman recounts the origin of a rumor he unwittingly started about Chuck Hagel (pictured) …
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Maggie Haberman / Politico:
Schumer: Chuck Hagel ‘almost had tears’ in meeting  —  New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that Chuck Hagel “almost had tears in his eyes” as he explained to the former Nebraska senator that the expression “Jewish lobby” is rooted in a negative depiction of Jews.
Michael Warren / Weekly Standard:
Graham to Hagel: Did You Say Israel Risked Becoming an Apartheid State?
John Robertson / Albuquerque Journal:
Ex-Sen. Domenici discloses son born in secrecy  —  Former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici told the Journal on Tuesday he fathered a son outside of his marriage over 30 years ago, revealing a secret kept for decades.  —  Statements given to the Journal by Domenici and the son's mother …
Robert Costa / National Review:
Romney to Speak at CPAC  —  Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will appear at the Conservative Political Action Conference next month, according to two sources familiar with the event's itinerary.  Romney's speech, which will be delivered at the Gaylord National hotel …
RELATED:
Wayne Slater / Trail Blazers Blog:
Ted Cruz says attacks on Marco Rubio are because he's a Hispanic Republican  —  Sen. Ted Cruz says some of the attacks on fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio by Democrats are motivated by race.  Cruz said today the fact that Rubio is a Republican Latino poses a threat to political adversaries.
Discussion: Washington Monthly and The Hill
RELATED:
Corrie MacLaggan / Reuters:
Republican Senator Cruz defends style a Democrat likened to McCarthyism
The Great Debate:
The future of free-market healthcare  —  Over nearly a century, progressives have pressed for a national, single-payer healthcare system.  When it comes to health reform, what have conservatives stood for?  —  For far too long, conservatives have failed to coalesce around a long-term vision …
Discussion: Ross Douthat, AEIdeas and TheBlaze.com
RELATED:
Newt Gingrich / Human Events:
WHY KARL ROVE AND STUART STEVENS ARE PLAIN WRONG  —  RESIZE:  —  I am writing this newsletter in a very direct, no baloney, effort to get across how much trouble we Republicans are in and how real the internal party fight is going to be.  —  I strongly support RNC Chairman Reince Priebus' effort …
Mark Gokavi / Dayton, Ohio, News and Information:
Woman claims she was fired for voting for Obama  —  DAYTON —  A Kettering woman alleges in a lawsuit that she was fired for voting for President Obama, a charge the company denies.  —  Patricia Kunkle is seeking in excess of $25,000 from Dayton-based defense contractor Q-Mark …
Numbers / Pew Research Center:
Hagel Better Known, Viewed More Negatively  —  Rubio Overwhelmingly Popular among Tea Party Republicans  —  OVERVIEW  —  Unfavorable opinions of Chuck Hagel have increased over the past month as he has faced a bruising confirmation battle to become President Obama's secretary of defense.
NationalJournal.com:
The Senate's Most Conservative Member: Ever Heard of Him?  —  James Risch, an Idaho Republican, edges out his more well-known colleagues in the upper chamber.  —  When people think about conservative “all stars” in the Senate (if people ever actually think about such a thing), a few names probably come to mind.
Cindy Adams / New York Post:
Soledad headed out at CNN  —  High-profile morning anchor Soledad O'Brien is on her way out at CNN as new boss Jeff Zucker moves Erin Burnett into her morning slot, Page Six has exclusively learned.  —  We're told award-winning journalist O'Brien has indicated she is ready to leave …
Ginger Gibson / Politico:
Jackson Jr. faces 47-57 months in prison  —  Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday morning to charges stemming from the misuse of campaign funds.  —  “Sir, for years I lived off my campaign,” Jackson told the judge.  “I used money I shouldn't have used for personal purposes.”
Rosie Gray / BuzzFeed:
Hillary Clinton's Speaking Fee North Of $200K  —  It puts her in the stratosphere of the speaking circuit, along with her husband and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  —  Image by Win McNamee / Getty Images  —  WASHINGTON — Now that she's out as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn't going to be hurting …
Discussion: Washington Examiner and CBS DC
Quinnipiac News + Events:
Release Detail  —  February 20, 2013 - New Jersey Gov Flies High, Buries Unknown Dem, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Christie Close To Clinton, Leads Cuomo In '16 Pres Race  —  New Jersey voters today continue Gov. Christopher Christie's record-breaking 74 - 22 percent approval rating …
Wall Street Journal:
Federal Furloughs Likely to Hit by April  —  WASHINGTON—More than one million federal employees would likely be forced to take unpaid leave by April as part of a slow moving but eventually widespread reduction in government spending set to start next month barring congressional intervention, government officials said Wednesday.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
GOP Minnesota legislator preparing to co-sponsor gay marriage bill  —  Before becoming a co-sponsor, Branden Petersen has concerns.  —  Republican state Sen. Branden Petersen is preparing to become a co-sponsor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
 
 
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 More Items: 
Noel Sheppard / NewsBusters blogs:
Audience Cheers and Applauds When Leno Says Obama 'Doesn't Understand Economics'
Adam Serwer / Mother Jones:
Obama's Immigration Plan Is Far Harsher Than Reagan's
Chris Edwards / Wall Street Journal:
Take the Public-Private Road to Efficiency
Discussion: National Review
Sarah Lyall / New York Times:
Oslo Journal: In Norway, TV Program on Firewood Elicits Passions
Jeffrey H. Anderson / Weekly Standard:
California Dept. of Transportation: ‘Be Sure to Black Out the ‘United States’ and [the] Motto’
Discussion: The Spectacle Blog
Kenneth P. Vogel / Politico:
Koch World reboots
 Earlier Items: 
Catherine Rampell / New York Times:
College Degree Required by Increasing Number of Companies
David R. Henderson / Wall Street Journal:
An Economist Who Made the Science Less Dismal
James Taranto / Wall Street Journal:
The Devil Made Them Do It  —  Senate Democrats try to dodge responsibility for ObamaCare.
Ulrike Putz / Spiegel Online:
How the Mossad Works: The Mystery of Israel's ‘Prisoner X’
Steven Mufson / Washington Post:
Gas prices are on a mysterious climb