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Last year's rare, bi-partisan deals on spending limits and extending the debt ceiling eliminated threats of pushing the country over a "fiscal cliff." But this year's budget debate will be more interesting, rather than less. Both parties will have to reveal their priorities, at the risk of revealing internal divisions in the run-up to primary contests and November's general election. Also, the Crimean parliament votes to join Russia and hold a referendum. On today's Talking Point, why is the College Board making big changes in the SAT?

Banner image: chbrenchley

Crimean Parliament Votes to Join Russia and Hold Referendum 7 MIN, 41 SEC

President Obama today ordered sanctions that could apply to both Russians and Ukrainians, a move to "impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea." No specific names of individuals covered by that order have been announced. Meantime, in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, parliament voted to hold a referendum to join Russia in just ten days time. Christopher Miller, an editor of the Kyiv Post, is in Simferopol.

Christopher J. Miller, Radio Free Europe (@ChristopherJM)

The Federal Budget: What's Important and What's Not? 35 MIN, 25 SEC

The federal budget is all about priorities, and President Obama says economic inequality is the defining issue for America's next generation. He wants to escalate the War on Poverty by closing tax loopholes. Republicans call that a tax increase that makes poverty worse and rewards refusal to work. Beyond that, the budget's a chance to debate everything from Pentagon spending to how much to pay for the habitats of honeybees. As arguments over the 2015 budget sets the stage for this year's elections, will the parties manage to unify or reveal their internal divisions?

David Hawkings, CQ Roll Call (@davidhawkings)
Mattea Kramer, National Priorities Project (@MatteaKramer)
Mike Konczal, Roosevelt Institute (@rortybomb)
Stephen Moore, Heritage Foundation (@StephenMoore)

CBO on the effects of a minimum-wage increase on employment and family
Hawkings on 5 reasons this supposedly boring budget year could be anything but
Mattea on how the US military avoided budget cuts
Moore on Obama's budget, liberalism's last hurrah
Rubio on Obama budget, Earned Income Tax Credit
Ryan-Murray budget deal

What's Behind the SAT Overhaul? 7 MIN, 55 SEC

The Scholastic Aptitude Test administered by the College Board has no shortage of critics. The multi-campus University of California threatened to dump it in 2005, after which the Board added a written essay. Now, one of the latest changes will be making the essay optional. Changes in the SAT were announced yesterday by David Coleman, who became President of the College Board in 2012. The "story behind the SAT overhaul" is the subject of a lengthy article upcoming in Sunday's New York Times Magazine written by contributing writer Todd Balf.

Todd Balf, New York Times Magazine

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