POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
December 7th, 2010
04:18 AM ET
7 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.

For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: Obama announces proposed deal on taxes, jobless benefits
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."

CNN: Congressional leaders react to tax deal
Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle issued swift responses on the heels of President Barack Obama's announcement that a deal was reached Monday evening with congressional Republicans to extend Bush-era tax cuts. Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said in a statement, "Now that the President has outlined his proposal, Senator Reid plans on discussing it with his caucus tomorrow." The spokesman for House Minority Leader and incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner released the following: "It's encouraging that the White House is now willing to stop all of the job-killing tax hikes scheduled for January 1. We look forward to discussing this proposal with House Republican Members and the American people."

CNN: Biden to 'defend the deal'
Vice President Biden will attend the weekly Senate Democratic policy lunch Tuesday in the Capitol to “defend the deal” on taxes and other items the White House tentatively cut with Republican leaders, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide. “This may be somewhat rough (to sell) in the Senate,” another congressional Democratic source told CNN. “But betting House Dems are worse.”

CNN: Brown sounds off on tax proposal
Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown had choice words about the tax deal struck between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans announced Monday night. He appeared on CNN's "John King, USA" following the president's press conference, which gave an overview of the deal. Brown told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, "In essence it borrows 700 billion dollars from China, charges it, puts it on our children and grandchildren's credit cards and gives it to the wealthiest two percent tax payers." The senator expressed frustration over the details of the deal, which extends tax cuts for two years, saying "People say Washington doesn't listen enough. It's clear what the public was saying is 'Keep the tax cut going for the middle class.'"

CNN: Senate trial on impeached judge to begin
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday will begin deciding whether to oust a federal judge, G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of Louisiana, who was impeached by the House earlier this year on corruption charges. Porteous, from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, is accused of corruption and accepting kickbacks, as well as lying to the Senate and FBI about his past, regarding his nomination to the federal bench. In March, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to impeach Porteous, making him the nation's 15th federal judge ever impeached.

For the latest national news:  www.CNN.com

CNN: Gates not optimistic for quick repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'
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 Persian 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.

San Jose Mercury: Appeals Court judges appear inclined to support gay marriage
With a menu of legal options, a federal appeals court on Monday appeared generally inclined to support the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. But how the judges reach that historic conclusion remains unpredictable. In more than two hours of legal sparring, lawyers on both sides of the battle over the state's ban on same-sex marriage were pressed by each of the three 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals judges hearing the challenge to Proposition 8. The 9th Circuit is reviewing the appeal of a federal judge's ruling last summer striking down the proposition as a violation of the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples to equal protection under the law.

Washington Post: 187,000 square miles in Alaska designated as polar bear habitat
The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a "critical habitat" for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas. The total, which includes large areas of sea ice off the Alaska coast, is about 13,000 square miles, or 8.3 million acres, less than an amount planned in a preliminary plan released last year. Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department, said the designation would help polar bears stave off extinction, recognizing that the greatest threat is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.

For the latest international news:  http://edition.cnn.com

CNN: WikiLeaks lists sites key to U.S. security
WikiLeaks has published a secret U.S. diplomatic cable listing places the United States considers vital to its national security, prompting criticism that the website is inviting terrorist attacks on American interests. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the disclosure "gives a group like al Qaeda a targeting list." The sites are included in a lengthy cable the State Department sent in February 2009 to its posts around the world, asking American diplomats to identify installations overseas "whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States."

CNN: North Korea warned of 'severe consequences' for further attacks
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her South Korean and Japanese counterparts jointly condemned North Korea on Monday for recent attacks and nuclear arms proliferation that the three diplomats said threaten stability and peace in the Korean peninsula and, more broadly, the Far East. The trio pledged support for South Korea in the latest escalation of its long-running conflict with North Korea, and urged China to take on a larger role in constraining Pyongyang. "We all agree that North Korea's provocative and belligerent behavior jeopardizes peace and stability" in the region, Clinton said after a meeting at the State Department in Washington with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara.

CNN: Cameron: NATO goals in Afghanistan are 'achievable'
NATO's goal of ending combat operations in Afghanistan and leaving security in local hands by the end of 2014 is realistic, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday on his second visit to the nation in 2010. "It's challenging, but it is achievable," Cameron said. "What I see is actually some grounds for cautious optimism." Cameron cited the continued training of the Afghan National Army and the nation's police force, noting 500 police officers are coming out of a British-run police academy every eight weeks.

For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Unloads Citi Stake for a $12 Billion Profit
The U.S. Treasury sold the last of its Citigroup Inc. common shares in a $10.5 billion offering that capped the government's biggest bank bailout of the financial-market meltdown. The stock sale, which was finalized Monday evening, means taxpayers will reap a profit of $12 billion on their $45 billion cash investment in Citi, the Treasury said. It also helps the government quell some of the criticism that it went too far in propping up the financial system, and allows the bank to shake the market stigma that it has effectively been a ward of the state. "This is a milestone for the government and for Citigroup," said James Angel, a finance professor at Georgetown University. "It signals the company has been fully privatized and that their parole is over."

Financial Times: Employer optimism increases in big economies
Hiring in the US and half a dozen other leading economies will increase for the first time in more than two years during the first quarter of 2011, according to a report released on Monday by Manpower, a global recruiting firm. Manpower’s Employment Outlook Survey – used by the Bank of England and Wall Street as an economic indicator – shows plans are stable or improving in the US, Japan, Germany, UK, Canada, France and Italy. This marks the first time employers across these seven economies have been positive about taking on new staff since the third quarter of 2008. The US forecast is the most positive outlook since the first three months of 2008.

In Case You Missed It

President Obama announces a tax cut deal with congressional Republicans.

The U.S., South Korea and Japan meet to pressure China to do more on North Korea. Jill Dougherty is following the talks.

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