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In response to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who on Thursday urged House Republicans to pass a temporary payroll tax cut extension, Speaker John Boehner's office says they're not ready to go there.

"The House and Senate have two different bills, but the same goal," says Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith. "That is why we believe, as Senator McConnell suggested, the two chambers should work to reconcile the two bills so that we can provide a full year of payroll tax relief - and do it before year's end."

There's room here for House Republicans to follow McConnell's advice, but not right away. If Reid appoints Democratic senators to negotiate a full-year payroll tax cut, and Boehner responds by passing the Senate's two-month compromise, he has no assurance that the year-long deal will be reached by December 31. It could easily drag out until February.

So Boehner's not biting yet.

The Des Moines Register reports:



After proposing the elimination of the income tax earlier in the day in Maquoketa, the congressman said he’d also support abolishing withholding taxes.

The term refers to a portion of an employee’s wages that are paid directly to the government by their employer.

“If everybody had to write a check every week or every month, and send in what you had to pay — believe me, this thing would have come to a halt a long time ago,” Paul said.

The field of Republican candidates for president in 2012 has been criticized by pundits for its weakness, and polling has shown that GOP voters haven't exactly been satisfied with their choices. But the paper of New Hampshire's state capitol, the Concord Monitor, thinks there's at least one candidate who could provide voters with a real choice without being a flawed nominee -- former Ambassador and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Granted, the paper says it disagrees with Huntsman on some major issues -- health care reform, extending the Bush tax cuts, abortion, gay rights -- but the Monitor's basic argument comes down to the idea that a Huntsman nomination actually provides voters with two real possibilities for 2012. "Huntsman, a consistent but never doctrinaire conservative, would present the greatest challenge to Obama," the paper wrote, saying "If elected, he would provide mature, informed and steady leadership," and citing Huntsman's career as a public servent at various levels of government.

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As gently as he could, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) just called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to cave and pass the Senate's payroll tax cut compromise.

But make no mistake: McConnell has essentially pulled the rug out from under his counterparts in the House as the political price Republicans are paying for reneging on the deal struck with Democrats has steepened dramatically.

Read the full statement below, but the key is here:

"Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions."

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Freshman Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) is calling on his fellow House Republicans to pass a two-month payroll tax cut extension, the Wausau Daily Herald reports.

In a news release, according to the paper, Duffy said:



“I’ve said all along I’d be willing to support a two-month payroll tax cut extension if that was our only option," Duffy said in a news release issued this afternoon.

"Of course, I still believe middle class families would be better served by the certainty of a one-year payroll tax holiday, but this isn’t about proving a point. This is about preventing hardworking Wisconsin families from paying an extra $40 a week for the dysfunction in Washington, D.C."

Ron Paul is bristling at a new round of questions over a newsletter he published in the 1980s and 90s espousing radical fringe views, at one point walking out of an interview on Wednesday.

Paul has claimed that the newsletter, which compared African Americans to zoo animals, warned of a coming race war, and generally promoted racist, anti-semitic, and fringe militia views, was written by other authors and he was unaware of its content -- even passages written from his perspective. He has not offered up any of the names of the six to eight writers he said were responsible for writing the incendiary material, however, and reporters are pressing him for more details.

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The White House issued a statement on Thursday, condemning the Baghdad bombings that killed almost 70 people. Here’s the White House’s statement:



We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against innocent Iraqis, which serve no agenda other than murder and hatred. We offer our condolences to those whose loved ones were lost or wounded. Attempts such as this to derail Iraq’s continued progress will fail. Iraq has suffered heinous attacks like this in the past, and its security forces have shown they are up to the task of responding and maintaining stability. Time and again, the Iraqi people have shown their resilience in overcoming efforts to divide them. We continue to urge leaders to come together to face common challenges.

Vice President Biden has spoken to several senior Iraqi leaders over the past week. Today he called Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to offer our full support for his efforts, and those of other Iraqi leaders, to foster dialogue that will allow all Iraqi blocs to work through their differences together. The Vice President also reiterated the need for actions to be guided by the rule of law and Iraq’s Constitution. At this difficult time, the United States stands with Iraq as a strategic partner and a close friend.


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has a new TV ad, in his efforts to fight the Democratic recall campaign against him. This one takes on a friendly, conciliatory holiday greeting to the state.

The ad is mainly narrated by Walker's wife, Tonette, as video is shown of the family helping out at a soup kitchen: "The holidays are a time for us to give thanks -- and to reach out to those who are struggling. it's a tough time for many families. But in Wisconsin, we have a long tradition of helping our neighbors. We're grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Wisconsin.

The ad then cuts to the Walker family in their living room: "In this season of peace, our hope is that we can put our differences aside, and move forward together."

Walker himself then adds: "From our family to yours: Blessings of the season."

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The Huffington Post reports that thus far, Senator Sherrod Brown running for reelection in Ohio in 2012 has been hit with the most outside opposition spending from Republican groups of any Senatorial race at nearly $2.9 million — that’s more than Elizabeth Warren:



Big spenders include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($1.5 million), the 60 Plus Association ($723,338), Crossroads GPS ($506,647) and Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee ($200,077). Brown is the only candidate 60 Plus has targeted.

A new poll from Ipsos and Telemundo shows that Obama’s approval among Hispanics has fallen six points since June, from 62% to 56% today. Though that remains higher than Obama’s overall approval, his approval is falling at a faster rate among hispanics, a key voting block from the president.

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