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Tamara Keith

The STOCK Act, a bill that would ban members of Congress from trading stock based on nonpublic information they get because they're lawmakers, has 61 co-sponsors and counting. And after years of languishing with only one hearing, the measure is getting one in the House Financial Services Committee.

What's remarkable about this is that the STOCK Act had just nine co-sponsors last week. What changed? The CBS news magazine 60 Minutes did a story about congressional insider trading.

Part of an ongoing series

Being unemployed for more than two years changed the way Ray Meyer looks at politics. He has always leaned Republican and used to have little sympathy for those who were receiving unemployment benefits.

Second in a three-part series

These days it can feel like the country is unsteady — politically, economically. In a search for the way forward, scholars and politicians often turn to their fundamental beliefs. NPR is taking a look at some of the most influential philosophers whose ideas molded the present and could shape the future. You might not know all their names, but you're certainly familiar with their ideas. They are woven into the fabric of our society.

When talking to people who have given to a candidate's campaign, you'd expect to find true believers.

"I liked what I heard, and he seemed to be the kind of person that I would like to see be president of the United States," says Carl Ploeger, who has donated twice to embattled GOP hopeful Herman Cain.

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Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is at the center of a media firestorm after revelations that he was accused of sexual harassment in the 1990s.

In all, 619 different groups and corporations said they intend to lobby around the work of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known around Capitol Hill as the supercommittee. All of them mentioned the supercommittee or the legislation that created it in their mandatory third-quarter lobbying disclosure forms. Here is an alphabetical list of the organizations:

The deficit reduction committee, the so-called supercommittee, has less than a month to agree on massive spending cuts and deficit reduction. And so the race is on — not only for lawmakers but for interest groups, trade associations and corporations. An NPR analysis finds there are hundreds of them that want to influence the outcome.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan has taken a lot of heat recently. One of the biggest criticisms: several independent analysts have found that under the plan, poor and middle class families would pay higher taxes while the richest of the rich would see a substantial tax cut. Today in Detroit, Cain unveiled his response.

"If you're at or below the poverty level, your plan isn't 9-9-9," said Cain with the abandoned Michigan Central Station in the background. "It's 9-0-9."

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Herman Cain has seen his popularity spike over the past couple of weeks. It was confirmed Monday, with a new CNN poll, showing him essentially tied with Mitt Romney at the front of the pack. Cain credits his success to three numbers: 9-9-9.

Congress approved with bipartisan support Wednesday much-delayed free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The Obama administration and supporters in Congress have labeled these agreements jobs bills, though there are questions about how many jobs will really be created.

When Bill Lane, the Washington director for the heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, looks at the three trade deals, he sees opportunity.

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a temporary measure — passed by the Senate last week — to keep the government funded through mid-November.

"Hopefully, we can certainly avoid any shutdown talk this time," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. "Get it done and continue along our mission to try and change the way spending occurs in this town."

These temporary funding extensions, lasting a few days or a few weeks, are pretty standard in Washington. Called "continuing resolutions," they go all the way back to 1876.

The once-rare possibility of a federal government shutdown has reared its head again, this time over House Republicans' desire to offset spending for disaster relief with money for other unrelated projects.

A clean-car loan program has become a key battleground. The House spending bill would take $1.5 billion from the program for disaster relief. Democrats say that would be a huge mistake.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday took the latest step in its effort to revive the economy, saying it will shift its portfolio of Treasury securities in a bid to drive down interest rates.

In recent months, the Fed has come under increasing fire both from politicians and regular citizens. One such critic is Steve Dore, a 65-year-old resident of San Antonio, Texas, who has a T-shirt that reads "End the Fed" in bold print.

Dore has written some 25 songs about the Fed, one of which argues: "Government promise ain't worth a damn. The Fed is an outrageous scam."

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