December 6th, 2010
10:42 AM ET

Senators say deal likely on extending tax cuts, jobless benefits

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/06/capitol.jpg]

Tom Cohen

Top senators from both parties indicated Sunday that a deal was likely soon on temporarily extending Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, along with unemployment benefits that have expired.

However, Republican senators made clear they are unlikely to budge in their opposition to other Democratic priorities in the final weeks of the lame-duck session of Congress that ends in early January.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told the NBC program "Meet the Press" he was "optimistic" about an agreement on the tax rates and jobless benefits, but added there likely wasn't time for the Senate to ratify a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia or complete work on a major defense bill that includes repeal of the "don't ask, don' tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers.

Democrats, stymied by the ability of Senate Republicans to filibuster their agenda, shot back with angry words.

"I hope Americans will understand how craven and empty and hollow and contradictory the Republican position is," veteran Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, told CNN.

The posturing and rhetoric reflects the changed political equation in Washington in the aftermath of the November congressional elections described by President Barack Obama as a "shellacking" for Democrats, with Republican recapturing control of the House and narrowing the Democratic majority in the Senate.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics
December 6th, 2010
10:14 AM ET

Letters to the President: #686 'Taking a day off'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is working today. I’m not. I mean, except for writing my daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

Today is my birthday, just in case Biden didn’t tell you. It is my wife’s birthday, too. I think I’ve mentioned before that we share that peculiar connection in addition to having the same anniversary. To celebrate, I have taken the day off and she and I are going to hang out, get some lunch, exchange gifts. It will be nice. I mention it because I will be aggressively avoiding my cell phone so if you want to reach me you’d probably better text me an “urgent” or “911” before dialing.

I’m tending a bit to home business with the holidays looming, and trying to work in a little cool out time if only to pace myself. Speaking of which, did you see the Redskins game yesterday? I couldn’t even count all the passes they dropped. Those guys couldn’t catch a cold. But my Saints did well, so that’s nice.

I truly thought I’d have the Christmas lights up by now, but it seems as if I just can’t get started. I’ve had the energy and inspiration a couple of times, but then something else got in the way. Part of the problem is that we’ve wanted to change up our motif a bit, and we’re not sure how. You get into a rut after a while; same old lights in the same old places. We’re considering a penguin theme out front, which is kind of goofy since there are no penguins at the North Pole, but we’ll see.

The morning started with something unusual. I’ve been running a good bit more lately and decided I really needed to get in six miles today, so I tumbled out of bed in the dark shortly after six and took off. It was cold and no one was moving, so it felt a little creepy at first. But by the time I wound around through the neighborhood a bit and made it down to the Potomac River, everything was dimly visible in a bluish, pre-dawn light.

After I warmed up, it was really very nice. Wind whistling under the edges of my cap, my feet softly crunching on the dirt path, squirrels and deer skittering away. I made it home shortly before the sun actually rose (I think. It was kind of cloudy so I couldn’t tell for sure.) Let the dog out, read the newspaper for a few minutes, then roused everyone for church. Good times. That said, in church I was fairly overwhelmed by the warmth of sunlight through the windows and the after effects of all that effort. It was all I could do to stay awake. Anyway, although I am taking it easy I hope your week is off to a good start. I’m sure that jobs report late last week was tough to take. But as I thought when the cold and dark were pressing around my run, hang in there and wait for sunrise.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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