The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
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CNN: Election-year politics confound tax-cut extension plan
Democrats and Republicans both say they want Bush-era tax cuts extended this year for most, if not all Americans. Then why has it been so hard to make it happen? The answer is election-year politics, with each party battling for any advantage in a climate of voter anger about politics-as-usual in Washington.
CNN: Durbin says Democrats don't have votes for tax extension
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate, said Sunday that his party does not have the votes they need to pass a tax cut extension for families making less than $250,000 a year. "I can count, and I know you can too," Durbin told CNN's Candy Crowley on State of the Union. "We have 59 Democrats and not a single Republican in the Senate supports our position."
CNN: Obama to sign $42 billion bill aimed at helping small businesses
President Obama will sign a $42 billion bill to aid small businesses Monday. The bill seeks to create thousands of jobs and will offer about $12 billion in tax breaks. Last week, the House of Representatives approved the Small Business Jobs Act by a 237-187 vote. The measure is also expected to create 500,000 jobs, according to a summary of the bill from the Senate.
CNN: Tea Party: return to basics or divisive force on right?
Depending on who was talking Sunday, the Tea Party movement is either an extremist force dividing Republicans or a group of disgruntled taxpayers setting the government on a proper course. The conservative political force has shaken up this year's congressional elections, backing candidates who defeated Republican incumbents and other mainstream GOP candidates in primaries across the country.
CNN: Boehner: 'I believe I have the support of my colleagues'
Republican Minority Leader John Boehner expressed confidence Sunday he would become House speaker if conservatives prevail in November. "I believe I have the support of my colleagues, current and future," Boehner told FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace. If elected, he would likely preside over an unwieldy group of moderate, conservative and Tea Party Republicans.
The Hill: Conservative Democrat wants Skelton over Pelosi as party's next speaker
If Rep. Gene Taylor had his way, Rep. Ike Skelton would replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker next year. Taylor told The Hill that he’d like to see Skelton, a Missouri Democrat and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if Democrats retain a slimmer hold on the House after the November elections. Taylor’s suggestion reflects a broader sentiment among conservative Democrats that Pelosi is too liberal and indicates she may not win unanimous support from the caucus in 2011, as she did in 2007 and 2009.
CNN: 'Pledge to America' is first step, says Republican lawmaker
Republicans' "Pledge to America" plan released last week is the first step in starting a national dialogue, a Republican congresswoman told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday, when asked why the 21-page manifesto lacked specifics. "This isn't the Republican platform," Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said on CNN's State of the Union. "This isn't everything the Republicans want to accomplish. These are the first steps, these are priority issues that we believe need to be addressed today."
Washington Post: Obama looks to reenergize youth vote, get late Democratic surge for midterms
President Obama will swoop into the heartland this week in a high-stakes bid to boost enthusiasm for Democrats by reigniting the coalition of young and minority voters who were critical to his success two years ago. With polls showing independent voters swinging toward Republicans in Wisconsin and the nation's other battlegrounds, Democrats are turning elsewhere to make up ground. So on Tuesday in Madison, Obama will stage the first in a series of rallies on college campuses designed to persuade what some call his "surge" voters – the roughly 15 million Americans who voted for the first time in 2008 – to return to the polls this fall.
Hartford Courant: Clinton To Cowering Democrats: Fight Back, You Wimps
President Bill Clinton's easygoing-but-blunt message to nervous Democrats was this: stop your wimpering and get in the game. It says volumes about the state of things that it took Clinton to make a case for the obvious election strategy: Be proud of healthcare reforms. Remember that it was Democrats who created jobs and cut the deficit during the 1990s. Don't run from the achievements of the Obama administration. Above all, speak up and don't apologize.
Politico: Behind GOP surge: Male voters
Some of the most dramatic recent polls suggesting that a Republican “wave” will overtake Democratic majorities this year share a single ingredient: testosterone. The gender gap that in 2008 resulted in 6 percent more men than women supporting Republican John McCain is likely to be even greater this year. But this time, evidence suggests Republican-leaning men are likely to prove the driving force behind a GOP surge.
The Hill: Gamblers across Atlantic not banking on Dems in November
It's going to be a treacherous midterm election for Democrats if they’re counting on the luck of the Irish. Irish online gambling companies have staked overwhelming odds against Democrats in this year’s midterm election as bettors around the world lay their money down on Republican and Democratic candidates in races that could shift the majority party in the U.S. Congress.
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CNN: Levee along Wisconsin River fails; extent of possible flooding unknown
As many as 100 homes could be affected by flood waters in Wisconsin as forecasters anticipate the total failure of a 120-year-old sand levee along the Wisconsin River. The levee, near the city of Portage in Columbia County, began failing Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service's Milwaukee/Sullivan office.
New York Times: U.S. Is Working to Ease Wiretaps on the Internet
Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone. Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order.
Dallas News: Texans favor illegal immigration crackdown up to a point
Texans appear fed up with illegal immigration, with most backing an Arizona-type crackdown and many willing to change the U.S. Constitution to discourage women from entering the country to give birth. But some experts said that Texas, while roiled by the issue, still isn't as captivated by it as other places – especially for a border state with a decidedly Republican tilt.
Washington Post: Audit: Ex-Postal Service workers return as private contractors, make more money
Who says you can't go back? Apparently you can at the U.S. Postal Service. Dozens of former top executives and hundreds of former employees have returned to the agency in recent years as private contractors, sometimes making double the salaries they made as full-time workers, according to one of three watchdog audits released late last week.
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CNN: Israel's moratorium on settlement building in West Bank ends
Israeli settlers cheered Sunday's expiration of a moratorium on building new settlements in the West Bank, as Israel's prime minister urged Palestinians not to walk away from newly resumed peace talks over the lapsed restrictions. Israel "is ready to hold continuous contacts in the coming days in order to find a way to continue the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement from his office shortly after the moratorium expired at midnight Sunday (6 p.m. ET). He asked Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to "stay in the talks and, with me, continue on the road towards peace."
CNN: Hearing set for soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians
A hearing is set for Monday for the first of five soldiers charged with the premeditated murder of three Afghan civilians. The hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington will determine whether the military has enough evidence against Spc. Jeremy Morlock to proceed with a court-martial. In all, officials charged 12 U.S. soldiers in what they called a conspiracy to murder Afghan civilians and cover it up, along with charges they mutilated corpses and kept grisly souvenirs.
New York Times: U.S. Probes Karzai's Kin
Federal prosecutors in New York have opened a criminal probe of one of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's brothers, raising the stakes in Washington's sometimes-contentious dealings with the Karzai government. U.S. officials said Mahmood Karzai has become a focus in a corruption probe handled by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, an office that has a history of charging, extraditing and trying suspects in far-flung parts of the world, including Afghanistan.
CNN: British national missing in Afghanistan
A British citizen is missing in Afghanistan, but details about the person and the circumstances of the person's disappearance were unclear Monday. "We can confirm that a British national is missing in Afghanistan," Britain's Foreign Office said Sunday.
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CNN: Recession not over, public says
Economic experts may believe the recession is over, but try telling that to the public. Seventy-four percent of Americans believe the economy is still in a recession, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. Only 25 percent think the downturn is over.
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