Here’s what you need to know this morning:
1. GOP leaders are exploring a fixed-payment “voucher plan” as a way to cut Medicare spending. After lambasting Democrats for cutting Medicare, House Republicans now say privatization may be the only way to save the senior healthcare program.
2. In the hopes of heading off potential bailouts, two House committees will host hearings on state fiscal crises and possible solutions. The panels will consider whether states should be allowed to seek federal bankruptcy protection.
3. The downgrade of Japan’s sovereign debt was as much about a lack of faith in the political system as it was about Japan’s overall financial health. Sound familiar? Moody’s is threatening to do the same to the U.S.
4. Republicans should think twice before crossing Rep. Michele Bachmann, (R-MN). The Tea Party darling is building up a powerful fan base on par with that of Sarah Palin.
5. Past Mitt Romney supporters are hesitant to commit to his still undeclared 2012 GOP presidential campaign. Politico looks at some of the sceptics.
6. Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana dropped some not-so-subtle hints Thursday that he will run for governor of Indiana in 2012. Announcing that he will not be making a White House bid, Pence told supporters that his “calling is closer to home.”
7. Senator John Thune of South Dakota is expected to decide whether he will run for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination within the next month. Potential problems with a Thune candidacy? The $100 million in earmarks he put in last year’s spending bill and a vote for the 2008 bank bailout.
8. It looks like Ambassador Jon Huntsman is going to make a run at the 2012 GOP nomination. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post looks at the former Utah governor’s political team.
9. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee fears “his brand will be damaged” by a failed GOP presidential campaign. Howard Kurtz looks at the conservative candidate void.
10. And Sharron Angle, Harry Reid’s 2010 Tea Party nemesis, says she won’t rule out a 2012 White House run.
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