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Attention GOP Porkers: Hatch Had His Earmark Requests Stripped From Spending Bill

“Republican Senators whose earmark requests pepper the much-maligned omnibus spending bill are having a really hard time explaining how they went from requesting earmarks earlier this year to decrying the legislation… because of all the earmarks. But never let it be said that those requests were baked into the spending package before the anti-pork wave hit in November.

After the Republican caucus voted to impose an earmark moratorium last month, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) — who’s likely to face a primary challenge from the right in 2012 — asked Senate appropriators to strip his earmarks from the omnibus.”

Reid Responds To Kyl: ‘I Don’t Need To Hear Sanctimonious Lectures’ About Meaning Of X-Mas

“After Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) accused Majority Leader Harry Reid of grinchery for suggesting that the Senate work the week after Christmas, Reid blamed Kyl’s party for the delay that may push votes past the holiday.

“As a Christian, no one has to remind me of the importance of Christmas for all of the Christian faith, for all their families, all across America,” he said. “I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Sen. Kyl and [Sen. Jim] DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.” “

Poll: Americans Trust Obama More Than Republicans To Guide Country

“Voters may have just tossed a whole lot of Democrats to the curb — at least in the House — but that doesn’t mean they’re ready to embrace the Republicans they elected to replace them.

Despite the huge losses suffered by President Obama’s party in November, Americans say they trust him more than Congressional Republicans to deal with the nation’s problems, according to a Washington-PostABC News poll released yesterday. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they trusted Obama more than Republicans to steer the country, versus 48% who said they trusted Republicans more.”

Republicans Make Good On Threat To Force Lame Duck Spending Showdown

“Before the midterms, conservative leaders were warning that they’d force a showdown over federal spending much earlier than expected: in the lame duck session, before the newly elected Republicans come to Washington.

They weren’t joking. Republican and Democratic leaders are now engaged in a brinksmanship that could result in a temporary shutdown of the federal government. After the election, Republicans voted among themselves to eschew all earmarks for two years, and now they have to make good on their pledge. Yesterday, Democrats’ chief appropriator, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) unveiled what’s known as an omnibus spending bill — a bundled up package of appropriations legislation, earmarks, and other measures — which would keep the government running for a year.

In response, most Republicans — even those whose multimillion dollar earmark requests are included in the legislation — are saying, “Hell no you can’t!” “

Top Democrat Identifies Another Threat To Social Security In Obama Tax Plan

“An outspoken and respected House liberal is concerned that President Obama’s tax cut plan will pose more than one threat to Social Security.

Progressive advocates, and a wide swath of the Democratic party, oppose Obama’s call for a partial employee payroll tax holiday. Not because they don’t want workers to have extra cash in their pocket, but because they worry that a supposedly temporary payroll tax rate will become the new normal and jeopardize Social Security in the long run. Next year, they worry, Republicans will characterize allowing the holiday to lapse as a “tax hike” on workers, and Dems will be cowed into extending it.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) shares that fear. But even if things don’t shake out that way, he says, treating the funding mechanism for Social Security as a variable that can be tweaked to fund stimulus or reduce deficits will erode Social Security’s status as the third rail of American politics, and leave it vulnerable to future attacks from the right.”

Vote Shows New START Has Enough Support For Ratification

“Ratification of the New START treaty received a huge boost today as it received two-thirds support of the voting Senate on the motion to proceed to debate. While only 51 votes were needed to begin debate, this vote demonstrates that Republicans are divided on the treaty and that it has enough support to achieve ratification. The super majority vote also serves as a significant blow to Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) who was forced to back down from making the Senate clerk read the text of treaty. “

House Votes To Repeal Military’s Gay Ban

“The 250-175 vote propels the issue to the Senate for what could be the last chance for now to end the 1993 law that forbids recruiters from asking about sexual orientation while prohibiting soldiers from acknowledging that they are gay.”

U.S. sues BP, Transocean, Anadarko over Gulf oil spill

“U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the lawsuit in a televised news conference. The defendants in the case either owned portions of the lease for the Macondo well or were responsible for drilling the well. Not named: Halliburton, whose cement work played a key role in the well’s failure.”

Budget Cuts, Lobbying Challenge SEC’s Oversight

“When President Obama came into power on the heels of the financial crisis, he pledged to beef up the Securities and Exchange Commission, a chief watchdog of Wall Street. But with a strapped budget and the changing political winds in Congress, that plan may come up short.

The SEC has already begun cutting back on investigations and enforcement because of uncertainty about its budget, including delaying getting testimony from witnesses and performing audits, the Wall Street Journal reported today.”

Europe Staggers as Critical Summit Looms

“The financial crisis flared up, with riots in Greece, troubles in Spain and little indication of an agreement on a systemic approach to stability”

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