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AP Feed: Bill blocked to let upper-income tax cuts expire

“Senate Republicans have blocked legislation allowing taxes to rise on upper income taxpayers on Jan. 1.

The vote Saturday was 53-36 — seven short of the 60 needed to advance the measure.

Without action by Congress, all income tax cuts enacted when George W. Bush was president will expire at year’s end. The legislation backed by Senate Democrats would have kept the cuts in effect except on incomes over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.”

Think Progress Feed: Bill To Extend Only Middle-Class Tax Cuts Blocked In The Senate

“Today, the Senate held two separate votes on the Bush tax cuts, but ultimately failed to extend any of the cuts that will be expiring at the end of the year. The first piece of legislation, which would have extended the Bush tax cuts for everyone making less than $250,000 per year, was defeated 53-36, falling seven votes shy of the 60 necessary to invoke cloture. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Jim Webb (D-VA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) joined all the Republicans in voting no. 11 senators, all Republicans, did not vote. The second bill, which would have extended the tax cuts for everyone making less than $1 million, was defeated 53-37. “

No More Third Rail? How The GOP Got Its Entitlement-Slashing Mojo Back

“One of the most fascinating political conundrums facing the GOP — whether or how to avoid conservative over-reach — might play out sooner than expected, when newly elected GOP members come to town. Despite their proclamations that they’ll take a humble approach to governing in the next two years — that they see the election as a referendum on Democrats, not a vote of confidence in themselves — leading Republicans are already making plans to turn the classic third rails of politics into major political issues. And they’re entering their new majority with as much bravado as they had under President Bush, when their last attempt to slash entitlements went down in flames.

“The third rail is not the third rail anymore,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the incoming House Budget chairman, told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast roundtable with reporters yesterday. “The political weaponization of entitlement reform is no longer as potent as it used to be, and the best evidence is this last election.”[…]

Two years ago, when Democrats padded their majorities in Congress, Republicans claimed to have found their humility. “The future is Cao,” wrote House Minority Leader John Boehner, referring to the moderate Republican Ahn “Joseph” Cao (LA) who, by fluke, won a liberal congressional district in New Orleans.

Last month, Cao was defeated by a Democrat. But scores of much more conservative Republicans were elected in his stead. And though the 2010 electorate skewed Republican, and though public polling still shows the public deeply opposed to conservative entitlement reform, the results were momentous enough to convince high-profile Republicans that their old ways were the right ways.”

Merkley Lays Out A Course For Reforming The Filibuster In The Next Senate: ‘Mark This Date On Your Calendar’

“Earlier this year, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) delivered an address about conservative obstruction at the Center for American Progress Action Fund titled “Deliberation, Obstruction or Dysfunction? Evaluating the Modern U.S. Senate and its Contribution to American Governance.” At the event, Udall discussed what he called the “Constitutional Option,” which he described as the Senate having the ability to alter its rules with a simple majority vote at the beginning of each Congress. Indeed, with record use of the filibuster in the current Senate, an overhaul of the procedure is needed to prevent further obstruction. Udall reiterated his desire to reform the filibuster in an interview late last month with Tikkun.

Now, another senator has embraced the use of the “Constitutional Option” to reform the filibuster at the start of the new Senate. This week on The Big Picture With Thom Hartmann, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) laid out a path to fundamentally change the way the filibuster works. Merkeley told Hartmann to “mark this date on your calendar: January 5th. That’s the date we’re going to come in for the next Congress, and it’s on that date that a group of us is trying to pass a motion for the Senate to adopt new rules.””

Why No One’s Happy With The FCC’s Net Neutrality

“After years of debate, the Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with controversial rules intended to preserve the open Internet. The FCC outlined new proposals this week, and the ensuing criticism promises more battles to come.”

Government Workers Ordered Not to Read Cables

“The White House and Defense Department told employees and contractors not to read the Wikileaks documents.”

Oil Spill Panel Finds Obama’s Regulatory Overhaul Insufficient, Industry ‘Complacent’

“The Obama administration’s overhaul of the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling doesn’t go far enough to prevent conflicts of interest and enhance safety, according to leaders of the presidential panel studying the causes of the Gulf oil spill.

Obama’s overhaul involved replacing top leadership, giving the agency a new name, and separating the offices overseeing safety from the offices collecting royalties. When the changes were announced, critics said tthe agency’s competing interests weren’t fully addressed. The spill panel seemed to take a similar view, reported the Houston Chronicle.”

China leadership ‘orchestrated Google hacking’

“Senior Chinese figures were behind the hacking of Google earlier this year which forced the search engine to quit the country, leaked US cables suggest”

Don’t miss our weekly Eco News Roundup at 5 pm Eastern on Sunday December 5th. Click on the Our Earth link for news and commentary on the environment.

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