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CNN Senior White House Correspondent
President Barack Obama on Monday announced a deal with Republican leaders that would extend Bush-era tax cuts for two years and unemployment benefits for 13 months while also lowering the payroll tax by two percentage points for a year.
The compromise, worked out in negotiations involving the White House, the Treasury and congressional leaders from both parties, includes provisions that each side doesn't like, Obama said in a hastily arranged statement to reporters after discussing the proposed deal with Democratic leaders.
"It's not perfect," Obama said of the plan, which also would continue tax breaks for students and families contained in the 2009 stimulus bill and allow businesses to write off all investments they make next year. "We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems."
As outlined by Obama and sources, the deal would add trillions of dollars to federal spending in coming years by extending the lower tax rates as well as the jobless benefits at a time when the president, Republican leaders and a federal deficit commission appointed by the president all say that the growing federal debt must be brought under control.
CNN Political Unit
Elizabeth Edwards is surrounded by family and friends in her North Carolina home after being informed by her doctors that further cancer treatment would be unproductive.
"Elizabeth has been advised by her doctors that further treatment of her cancer would be unproductive," the Edwards family said Monday in a statement. "She is resting at home with family and friends and has posted this message to friends on her Facebook page."
The message from Edwards, the wife of two-time presidential candidate John Edwards, reads:
"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human.
"But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn't possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know."
Edwards was told by her doctors last week that additional cancer treatments were futile, said a source close to the family. Her prognosis was described in terms of weeks, not months, the source said.
CNN Wires Staff
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday he was "not particularly optimistic" that Congress would soon repeal the "don't ask, don' tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian personnel from the military.
During a visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier deployed in the Arabian Gulf, Gates also made clear that even if the Senate approves a measure already passed by the House to end the controversial 1993 policy, it would be some time before the military fully implements a repeal.
"One of the virtues of the legislation that's in front of the Congress right now is that it gives the president and me and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff latitude in how long we take to prepare for this and how long it actually would be to be implemented," Gates said in response to a question from personnel deployed on the vessel.
"Before a change in the law, we would have to certify that we've made enough preparations that it wouldn't affect unit cohesion, morale, retention and recruiting, and so on," he continued. "The legislation would give us great deal of flexibility. I am not particularly optimistic, though, that it will get done. We'll see."
Facing a diminished majority in the Senate next year due to losses in the recent mid-term congressional elections, Democrats hope to pass a broad defense authorization bill that includes the "don't ask, don't tell" language in the current lame-duck session of Congress that lasts until early January.
Republicans opposed to repeal are trying to strip the "don't ask, don't tell" language from the defense authorization bill. Having gained six Senate seats in the election to reduce the Democratic-controlled majority to 53-47 in the next congressional session, the Republicans know they'll have a better chance of blocking repeal then.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
DJ Pauly D performs at the KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2010 on December 5, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
Staff Winner: Shot was taken just before he inadvertently pushed the self-destruct button. – Will Armsby
Viewer Winner: Chi-chi-chi-CHIA!!!!!! – KS Verdi from San Antonio, Texas
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
The New York Times
Even physicians with decades of experience telling patients that their lives are nearing an end are having difficulty discussing a potentially fatal condition that has arisen in Arizona: Death by budget cut.
Effective at the beginning of October, Arizona stopped financing certain transplant operations under the state’s version of Medicaid. Many doctors say the decision amounts to a death sentence for some low-income patients, who have little chance of survival without transplants and lack the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to pay for them.
“The most difficult discussions are those that involve patients who had been on the donor list for a year or more and now we have to tell them they’re not on the list anymore,” said Dr. Rainer Gruessner, a transplant specialist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “The frustration is tremendous. It’s more than frustration.”
Organ transplants are already the subject of a web of regulations, which do not guarantee that everyone in need of a life-saving organ will receive one. But Arizona’s transplant specialists are alarmed that patients who were in line to receive transplants one day were, after the state’s budget cuts to its Medicaid program, ruled ineligible the next — unless they raised the money themselves.
CNN Wire Staff
A 14-year-old accused of ruthless killings on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel boss faced a battery of questions from reporters after authorities detained him. And he answered, point-blank, as camera flash bulbs flickered.
"I slit their throats," he said, describing what he said was the killing of four people.
The teen told reporters after his capture Thursday night that he was an orphan who joined the Pacifico Sur drug cartel when he was 12. He said Julio "El Negro" Padilla, one of the group's alleged leaders, threatened him.
"I either work or he'll kill me," the 14-year-old said.
Analysts say the case offers a glimpse into Mexican drug gangs, which are increasingly recruiting youth to help with their turf battles.
"This won't be the last time we hear stories of young children picking up arms and killing people because it pays, and because they think it's cool," said Sylvia Longmire, a former U.S. Air Force officer and senior intelligence analyst specializing in Latin America and Mexico's drug war.
CNN Wire Staff
President Barack Obama said Monday that there are still "serious debates still taking place" in the negotiations over extending the Bush-era tax cuts, and both Democrats and Republicans have to be prepared to compromise to reach a deal.
The president reiterated his position that extending the cuts for the wealthiest Americans would be fiscally irresponsible, and stressed the opinion of Democratic leaders that an extension of unemployment benefits needs to be part of any agreement with the GOP.
"We have got to find consensus here because a middle class tax hike would be very tough, not only on working families, it would also be a drag on our economy at this moment," Obama told an audience in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
"We've got to make sure that we are coming up with a solution even if it is not 100% of what I want or what the Republicans want."
White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters that negotiators "have been making progress and the president is confident within the next couple of days" they will reach a deal.
CNN Political Unit
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he hasn't decided whether he'll run for president, but thinks people should be paying attention to him.
"I just don't understand how it is that a person can read these polls day after day and the narrative is constantly everybody but me," Huckabee told Politico.
"Whether I do it or not, the fact is that if one looks at the overall body of information that's available, nobody would be in a better position to take it all the way to November."
Huckabee also drew a contrast between the attention given to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, with whom he shares a base of support among religious and conservative groups.
Palin, who is also considering a presidential run, has drawn large crowds – and intense media attention – across the country during her book tour for her latest bestselling book, "America by Heart."
"She's brought an enormous amount of energy to the party. As to why she seemingly draws 10 times the attention, I don't know," Huckabee said of his Fox News colleague. Huckabee noted that his own book signings have drawn crowds of up to 1,400 people, a feat the media has largely ignored.
"You're never going to read that. I'm never going to be breaking news because I made a comment on Twitter and Facebook. Why is that? I don't know," he said.
WikiLeaks has published a secret U.S. diplomatic cable listing locations abroad that the U.S. considers vital to its national security, prompting criticism that the website is inviting terrorist attacks on American interests.
The list is part of a lengthy cable the State Department sent in February 2009 to its posts around the world. The cable asked American diplomats to identify key resources, facilities and installations outside the United States "whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States."
The diplomats identified dozens of places on every continent, including mines, manufacturing complexes, ports and research establishments. CNN is not publishing specific details from the list, which refers to pipelines and undersea telecommunications cables as well as the location of minerals or chemicals critical to U.S. industry.