POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/20
Said Graham: “The last two weeks have been an absolutely excruciating exercise — Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — a controversial topic. Some say the civil rights issue of our generation, others say battlefield effectiveness was passed in the lame-duck session without one amendment being offered. The DREAM Act we’ve had two votes on the DREAM Act. Controversial immigration, there was no efforts to find a common ground there, passed without the ability to amend to try to make Republicans look bad with Hispanics.”
Senate Democrats “appear to have enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster on the new START arms-control treaty, though it’s unclear if they will have the 67 votes needed for ratification,” Politico reports.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans a cloture vote on Tuesday with a final vote for ratification on Wednesday.
However, the New York Times notes that the two top GOP leaders — Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) — have both declared today “they would oppose it because of concerns about its possible impact on missile defense and other issues.”
“The one target for us in two years is no longer extending the upper income tax credit for millionaires and billionaire, and scaling back what we had to do to get the compromise.”
— Vice President Biden, in an interview on Meet the Press, renewing the Obama administration’s vow to end the Bush-era tax breaks for wealthy Americans.
The Senate Armed Services Committee prohibits its staff and presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation from owning stocks or bonds in 48,096 companies that have Defense Department contracts — but the senators who sit on the influential panel are allowed to own any assets they want, the Washington Post reports.
Key finding: 19 of the 28 senators on the committee held assets in companies that do business with the Pentagon.
Rick Klein: “Out of the wreckage of a disastrous election, and to the surprise of most political observers, a lame-duck session that figured to be mostly mop-up duty has become enormously productive — both on the policy and the political fronts… And perhaps the only major political figure who can plausibly claim victory in all of the major areas is President Obama. It will get harder from here, but the seeds of a political comeback — or, at least, the suggestion that such a comeback is possible — have been planted in the interim period before Republicans take over the House.”
The Miami Herald reports investigators are looking into more than $500,000 in secret payments from the owners of a dog track to a company tied to Rep-elect David Rivera (R-FL).
“Most of the money was paid in early 2008, weeks after Rivera — then a member of the Florida House of Representatives — helped run a political campaign backed by the dog track to win voter approval for Las Vegas-style slot machines at parimutuel venues in Miami-Dade County.”
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) tells the Weekly Standard why he doesn’t think his background as a highly-paid Washington, D.C. lobbyist should disqualify him from running for president.
Said Barbour: “The first thing a president’s going to have to do when he takes his hand off the Bible is start lobbying. He’s going to need to lobby Congress. He’s going to need to lobby the bureaucracy. He’s going to need to lobby the governors. He’s going to need to lobby our allies and our international competitors. And I’m a pretty good lobbyist.”
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 59% of Americans flatly rule out voting for Sarah Palin for president — substantially more than say there’s no way they’d vote for President Obama.
A new University of Maryland study finds that those “who had greater exposure to news sources were generally better informed… There were however a number of cases where greater exposure to a news source increased misinformation on a specific issue.”
Key finding: Fox News viewers were were “significantly” more likely than non-viewers to erroneously believe false information about the economy, taxes, climate change, bailouts and whether President Obama was born in the United States.
“These effects increased incrementally with increasing levels of exposure and all were statistically significant. The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it.”
Charles Krauthammer: “If Barack Obama wins reelection in 2012, as is now more likely than not, historians will mark his comeback as beginning on Dec. 6, the day of the Great Tax Cut Deal of 2010… With his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, dealmaker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.”
“And Obama pulled this off at his lowest political ebb. After the shambles of the election and with no bargaining power – the Republicans could have gotten everything they wanted on the Bush tax cuts retroactively in January without fear of an Obama veto – he walks away with what even Paul Ryan admits was $313 billion in superfluous spending.”
PolitiFact picks the phrase “government takeover of health care” as the Lie of the Year.
“Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats’ shellacking in the November elections… The phrase is simply not true.”