Morning Briefing: May 3, 2012

The diplomatic dispute over blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng continues now that Chen has had a “change of heart” about remaining in China, saying he wants to leave. He believes the U.S. misled him into thinking he’d be secure if he left their custody, and he now feels in danger in his home country and is seeking asylum in the U.S.

A new study finds U.S. health care spending “dwarfs” that of any other industrialized country, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. has better quality of care. In fact, the U.S. ranked toward the bottom for the number of doctor consultations, the length of hospital stays, and the number of hospital beds. According to the study, costs are driven up by high prices for medication and medical services, expensive technology, and the prevalence of obesity and diabetes.

Days after admitting to taking illegal campaign contributions in 2010 and paying a civil fine, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is in legal hot water again. The Federal Election Commission (FEC)has sent Rubio’s leadership PAC a letter questioning corporate contributions, which the PAC may have accepted illegally.

Despite more than $10 million spent on anti-recall advertisements by his campaign, the Republican Governors Association, and the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, polls show Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is actually losing ground with voters.


One day after U.K. lawmakers said Rupert Murdoch was unfit to lead his company, the News Corp. board of directors remains fully supportive of Murdoch, who is the company’s founder, chairman, and CEO. The board said it based the vote of confidence “on Rupert Murdoch’s vision and leadership.”

The Treasury Department reported that April tax receipts did not change the debt-ceiling target date. Lower-than-expected tax receipts potentially could have moved up the date, but lawmakers still have until the end of 2012 to raise the $16 trillion debt ceiling.

Mitt Romney is catching up to President Obama in two important swing states. A Quinnipiac poll out today shows that in Ohio, Obama leads with 44 percent, with Romney close behind at 42 percent. The race is even closer in Florida, where Obama and Romney are in a statistical tie, 44 percent to 43.

The city of Tampa would like to ban the concealed carrying guns during the Republican National Convention this year, but Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has turned down a request to outlaw firearms during the convention in a letter to the Tampa mayor, who made the request.

And finally: Ann Romney’s sartorial choices sparked a minor controversy yesterday after it was revealed that the bold shirt she wore on TV this week cost $990. But the bird print shirt’s designer was uninterested in getting political, with a rep saying they “had nothing to do with” Romney wearing the item. “She must have bought it from Saks or Bergdorf’s, we definitely didn’t send it to her,” the rep said.