Bachmann's hidden billions claim

She's taken it on the stump and she's taken it on TV. But U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's contention that Democrats hid $105 billion of spending in President Obama's health care overhaul seems to be getting a lukewarm reception among fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, she was one of 54 Republicans (and the only one from Minnesota) voting against funding the government for another three weeks. She had urged a no vote on the stopgap funding measure because it does nothing to strip away future appropriations in the Affordable Care Act.

House Speaker John Boehner has promised to move legislation to "repeal the mandatory spending slush funds in ObamaCare," but otherwise has said little about Bachmann's claim of fraud.

On Wednesday, the Abilene Reporter-News quoted Texas Republican Mac Thornberry saying he was "mystified" by talk of buried spending.

"It should come as no surprise to anybody," Thornberry said. "That's one of the many reasons people voted to repeal the health care bill in total."


More Bachmann: 'We Need Michele' site

As Bachmann continues her flirtation with the idea of running for president next year, she has inspired an online petition drive, urging her to do just that.

The "We Need Michele" website, apparently developed by conservative activists who pushed last year for her to run for speaker of the House, was recently launched, breathlessly describing her as "a presidential candidate with courage and conviction, who will fight against Barack Obama's socialist agenda; an outsider who isn't part of the establishment."

Not everyone is sold on the idea, if tweets displayed on the website are any indication. On the one hand: "Count me In!!! I don't pray, but even I have been throwing out an occasional request for this to happen." On the other: " Oh I can't stop giggling."

The website backers protected their identity when they registered the domain.


Dayton: Education bashing 'destructive'

After distributing awards to Minnesota's top teachers and school administrators Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton hit back at those who, in his view, would tear educators down.

"When the comments here [are] all negative and all directed toward an indictment that suggests everything's bad about our public education [system] in Minnesota, it's very unfair, it's very misguided and it's very destructive," Dayton said.

The governor also said he objects to any education budget that funds early childhood programs, which he supports, while cutting K-12 integration spending.

"It's not about pitting three-year-olds against third-graders or three-month-olds against kindergartners," he said.


Cravaack's maiden flight

Freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack will make his first congressional trip abroad this week when he travels to the Middle East.

Cravaack spokesman Shawn Ryan said Cravaack will head to "Israel and possibly Pakistan" in a congressional delegation with the House Homeland Security Committee.

For security reasons, the exact dates and cities the delegation is visiting could not be disclosed in advance, Ryan said.