TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: It's December in an off-year, which means news is slow and speculation about the next midterms is beginning to run rampant. The early forecasts don't look good for House Democrats, but any chance of another major "wave" happening for either side is even more suspect. John Boehner addressed reports that his party isn't very open to gay candidates, and added that they need to wise up when GOP men run against women. On the floor, the House passed a major patent-reform bill, but it still faces a slog in the Senate. We also learned that arts and culture contribute a lot to the economy, which expanded in the third quarter a lot faster than previously thought. Finally, semi-open season on eagles could soon be coming to a wind farm near you.
TOO-EARLY FORECASTING: HOUSE DEMS TO SUFFER IN 2014: We all know it's early, but historic electoral data and "smartly constructed models" are hard to ignore, and it doesn't line up well for Democrats, who right now are charted to lose five seats in the House. This isn't Nate Silver, but the Monkey Cage has proven to be pretty accurate in the past. (Ezra Klein, WaPo)
BOEHNER PLEADS WITH GOP TO ACCEPT GAY CANDIDATES: The speaker called on his caucus to be more supportive of gay congressional candidates and to "be a little more sensitive" when it comes to running against women. (Jake Sherman, Politico)
HOW MUCH ARE THE ARTS WORTH? MORE THAN HALF A TRILLION: The Bureau of Economic Analysis partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts to release today the first federal deep-dive into the impact of the arts and culture sector on GDP. The agencies said in their first release that arts and culture contributed $504 billion to GDP in 2011, or 3.2 percent of the total. Travel and tourism, by comparison, contributed 2.8 percent. The data gives advocates of public arts funding something new to point to when they make their case to lawmakers.
HOUSE STABS AT PATENT TROLLS: With a strong majority of support from both parties, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte's Innovation Act passed the House on a 325-91 vote. The margin of victory for the bill, which aims to cut down on the growing problem of predatory patent litigation, was a little larger than even a lot of the bill's boosters expected, and now goes to the Senate, where a number of bills also seeking to kill patent trolls await. (NJ)
TOMORROW IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Obama and the first family will light the National Christmas Tree. Biden is in South Korea for meetings with President Park Geun-Hye and Prime Minister Chung Hongwon. He will also deliver remarks on the U.S.-Korea partnership at Yonsei University. Kerry is in Israel and the West Bank. Pritzker will deliver remarks on innovation priorities in the Commerce Department's "Open for Business Agenda." The House is in session, but the Senate is out of session.
WIND FARMS VS. BALD EAGLES: The national bird is the unexpected victim of wind farms, and the Interior Department is about to finalize a rule that would make this OK. (Ben Geman, NJ)
ECONOMIC EXPANSION: It happened a lot faster than first believed in the third quarter, as the government revised growth estimates from 2.8 to 3.6 percent. (Nelson Schwartz, NYT)
FINDERS, KEEPERS? Not for the TSA. The agency made half a million dollars this year from forgotten pocket change, but Congress is making the TSA donate it to charity. (Reid Wilson, Washington Post)
E.T. GOES TO WASHINGTON: The most productive two hours in Congress this year may have been a hearing Wednesday on extraterrestrial life. (Abby Ohlheiser, The Wire)
OBAMACARE AND WOMEN: Polls show that Obamacare may be costing the Democrats votes among a crucial constituency. (Alex Roarty, NJ)
OBAMA AND INEQUALITY: Will Obama finally do something about inequality now that he has nothing to lose? (John Cassidy, New Yorker)
LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: The 113th Congress's biggest accomplishment this year will be getting into the Guinness Book of World Records for accomplishing close to nothing this year. Conan O'Brien points out the obvious solution for getting millennials to sign up for Obamacare: medical marijuana. (Reena Flores, NJ)