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EARLYBIRD

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GOP shows signs of compromise on tax cut extensions. Plus: Rates of poverty and uninsured climb dramatically.

Congress: Baucus To Propose Tax Cut Solution

• Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Thursday "he plans to offer a proposal next week to extend most income tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003," CongressDaily (subscription) reports. "Baucus offered few details, but said he believed the Senate can hold a vote on extending only the cuts for families earning under $250,000 and individuals under $200,000."

• "Republicans in Congress appear willing to cut a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for all income earners for one year, but Democrats are not eager to negotiate according to the results of the latest National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll," Hotline On Call reports.

 

• Ex-lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti "has decided to plead guilty and cooperate in a Justice Department probe of campaign donations to members of Congress who directed hundreds of millions of dollars to defense contractors without competitive bidding," AP reports.

• "The economic-stimulus package has meant big business for Washington, D.C., and federal contractors around the capital's Beltway," the Wall Street Journal reports. "More than $3.7 billion of stimulus contracts, grants and loans have gone to recipients in the District of Columbia and two adjacent congressional districts," which is "nearly three times the national average."

White House: What Should Obama Say On The Trail?

• "After months of grappling with governance and a year's worth of crises, President Barack Obama has leapt back into the political fray -- to the relief of some Democrats and the indifference of others who want as little to do with him as possible," Politico reports. "Here are five suggestions for Obama's Recovery Fall, courtesy of 20 or so Democratic operatives, politicians and academics canvassed by POLITICO."

 

• "Obama, in Stamford, Conn., on Thursday to raise money for Democratic Senate nominee Richard Blumenthal, had a little fun with GOP nominee Linda McMahon's business interests, saying the choice between the two 'should be a no-brainer,'" Politico also reports.

"Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren said" today "she accepted the job of setting up a consumer financial protection agency for" Obama "and declared that the time for financial 'tricks and traps' was over," Reuters reports. "Obama was expected to announce his appointment of Warren, a Harvard University professor and hero to liberal activists," at 1:30 p.m.

Politics: New 'Contract' Won't Come With Signatures

• "Republicans will not sign the new 'Contract with America,' and GOP candidates won't be invited to the document's unveiling, unlike in 1994," The Hill reports. "Sixteen years ago, more than 300 Republican congressional candidates marched up the Capitol steps to sign the original pledge, which called for fiscal responsibility, term limits and a crackdown on crime. But... the new Contract is being pushed as a governing effort rather than an electoral one."

• "Parties and politicians preparing for the final months of the 2010 election cycle have opened a record number of joint fundraising committees to allow donors to write larger checks than individual campaigns can collect," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Campaigns have filed paperwork for more than 700 such groups since the beginning of 2009 -- doubling the number that were active during the 2006 midterm elections, according to a CQ MoneyLine study of Federal Election Commission records."

 

• "One of the key lessons of the 2010 primary season is that it has become much easier to mount a serious challenge against a sitting senator. And that could make it much harder for the Senate to pass any legislation that requires compromise across party lines," National Journal (subscription) reports.

Health Care: Number Of Uninsured Jumps

• "The number of uninsured Americans rose by 4.4 million to 50.7 million last year, the largest annual jump since the government began collecting comparable data in 1987, according to the Census Bureau," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The figures released Thursday provide fresh evidence about the negative effects of the economic downturn on health-insurance coverage. And they could become a political talking point in the debate over the health-care overhaul in the run-up to the midterm elections."

• "The American Medical Association found enough to its liking to support the administration's long, difficult campaign to enact health reform legislation. But the goodwill the AMA earned in Washington could come undone by its support of" Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey, "whose promise to scrap the health law has been a key plank of his campaign for the Senate," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

• "Capitol Hill won't be the only Washington hub shaken up by the November elections. National health care groups, many of which collectively fought to shape the health reform bill, could also face blowback from their state affiliates wary of the final result," National Journal (subscription) reports.

• "A federal advisory panel on Thursday recommended against approval of a new diet pill, the latest setback in efforts to develop treatments for the nation's obesity epidemic," the New York Times reports. "The advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted 9 to 5 that the potential benefits of the drug, called lorcaserin and developed by Arena Pharmaceuticals, did not outweigh the risks."

Economy: Senate Passes Small Business Bill

• "The Senate on Thursday passed a long-stalled bill aimed at providing the nation's small businesses easier access to credit, the latest effort to create jobs and boost the struggling economy," the Washington Post reports. "The 61 to 38 vote came just after noon, with two Republicans joining the Democratic majority to give President Obama a legislative victory he has been pursuing for months."

• "In the second year of a brutal recession, the ranks of the American poor soared to their highest level in half a century and millions more are barely avoiding falling below the poverty line, the Census Bureau reported Thursday," the Post also reports. "About 44 million Americans -- one in seven -- lived last year in homes in which the income was below the poverty level, which is about $22,000 for a family of four. That is the largest number of people since the census began tracking poverty 51 years ago."

• "How long it takes for the government to divest the rest of its holdings" in General Motors "will, in part, be determined by" the automaker's "success," said CEO Daniel F. Akerson, the New York Times reports. "The company has posted back-to-back profitable quarters this year, but he said longer term performance was critical to any stock sales by the government."

• "China's government is considering plans that could force foreign auto makers to hand over cutting-edge electric-vehicle technology to Chinese companies in exchange for access to the nation's huge market, international auto executives say," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Energy & Environment: House Approves Energy Retrofitting Bill

• "The House passed legislation Thursday that aims to help rural America retrofit homes and small businesses to make them more energy efficient," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "The Rural Energy Savings Program bill, which passed 240-172, provides nearly $5 billion worth of loans to utilities in rural areas."

• "A ballot initiative to suspend a milestone California law curbing greenhouse gas emissions is drawing a wave of contributions from out-of-state oil companies, raising concerns among conservationists as it emerges as a test of public support for potentially costly environmental measures during tough economic times," the New York Times reports.

• "For more than four decades," Kenneth Feinberg "has been based in Washington, starting out on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide and accumulating a powerful bipartisan cast of supporters," National Journal (subscription) reports. "The 64-year-old administrator of the $20 billion BP compensation fund... has made a specialty of compensating victims of the most devastating American disasters in recent decades."

Technology: Scrutiny Of Google's Power Increases

• "While its executives were not at the hearing, Internet giant Google found itself on the hot seat Thursday at a session convened by a House Judiciary panel that was examining competition in the evolving digital marketplace," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "While the hearing touched on a broad range of issues related to whether antitrust regulators are equipped to deal with emerging digital technologies, there was much discussion over whether there should be greater antitrust scrutiny of Google."

• "The blog, once the territory of online diarists and armchair pundits, has matured into a powerful mode of communication that is fast becoming essential for conducting business in Washington, especially in technology circles," National Journal (subscription) reports. "In recent weeks, tech blogs have been at the forefront of a protracted battle over whether the Federal Communications Commission should reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, a move that would pave the way for heavier regulation of high-speed Internet providers."

• "Cell phone carriers are seeking to get approval to let customers make small donations to a political party or candidate via text messages," Politico reports. "By sending a text message to a specified common short code -- a five- or six-digit number often used by marketers to send coupons, sports scores or weather reports to mobile phones -- people may soon be able to make small political donations."

National Security: North Korea Policy Considered Dangerous

• "The United States and its allies in Northeast Asia are trying to fashion an opening to North Korea out of concern that the current policy toward the isolated nuclear-armed nation could lead to war, U.S. and Asian officials said," the Washington Post reports.

• "One of" Obama's "key foreign policy priorities got a boost Thursday as a Senate committee approved a nuclear arms-reduction treaty with Russia... but a wild card emerged when Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) told the hearing that intelligence agencies had, at the last minute, produced 'some very serious information that directly affects what we're doing here,'" the Post also reports. "He did not reveal the information, but later told the blog the Cable that it involved Russian cheating on arms-control agreements."

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