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In his remarks following today's summit with Democratic and Republican leadership, President Obama announced that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Budget Director Jack Lew will "work with representatives of both parties to break through this logjam" on tax cuts. "I've asked the leaders to appoint members to help in this negotiation process. They agreed to do that. That process is beginning right away," he said.

Obama called the meeting "productive," and though he acknowledged the two parties did not agree on the tax cuts issue, "there was broad agreement that we need to work to get that resolved before the end of the year."

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The new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) suggests that Sarah Palin continues to hold a narrow national lead in the Republican presidential field -- and that she is also probably their worst possible candidate against President Obama in the general election.

The numbers: Palin 21%, Gingrich 19%, Romney 18%, Huckabee 16%, Ron Paul 5%, Pawlenty 5%, Thune 3%, and Daniels 2%. The survey of national Republican primary voters has a ±4.9% margin of error.

In the previous poll, from all the way back in June, Romney led with 25%, Huckabee had 22%, Palin was in third with 19%, followed by Gingrich at 15%, and Ron Paul 6%.

As for the general election, PPP's numbers released Monday showed Obama leading Palin by a solid 51%-42%. By contrast, he only edged out Romney by 47%-46%, led Gingrich 49%-43%, and led the lesser-known Marco Rubio by 48%-37%.

Incoming Republican House leaders told reporters this morning that House Democrats who are promising a vote on extending only the Bush tax cuts for middle class earners are rejecting the will of voters who cast ballots for a Republican-led House Nov. 2.

"I don't know what Speaker Pelosi didn't hear in this last election," Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who chairs the GOP transition team, told reporters. "But she sure didn't hear the American people."

Walden accused Pelosi and other Democratic leaders of presenting their tax cut extension plan -- which would allow the Bush cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire, thus saving billions in deficit spending -- in a way that would deny Republicans a chance to amend it. Walden and other Republican leaders gathered at the press event said they represented a bipartisan majority in favor of extending all the cuts and they continued to say that they weren't interested in any plan that didn't do that.

"No tax increases for nobody," Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), incoming chair of the House Republican caucus, told reporters. "It's poor grammar, but it's great economics."

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The new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) has bad news for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele: A strong plurality of GOP primary voters, just shy of a majority, want him gone.

The poll asked: "Would you like to see Michael Steele continue as chairman of the Republican Party or would you rather he was replaced?" The result was only 23% to have him continue, against 47% who want him replaced. The survey of national Republican primary voters has a ±4.9% margin of error.

Oddly, as PPP's Tom Jensen notes, the party's successes have done nothing to help Steele -- things have only gotten worse. In the previous PPP survey from July, 27% wanted him to stay, and only 28% wanted him replaced.

It should be noted that the RNC chairmanship is not up for popular vote, but is an insider's game voted on by the committee members. On the other hand, these numbers suggest that there is no popular constituency that might persuade the insiders to keep Steele around -- and if numerous press reports are to be believed, it's the insiders who really have it in for him.

The 2012 Republican Convention in Tampa, Fla. won't get underway for another 636 days. But that hasn't stopped the Republican National Committee from spending over $636,800 on the convention more than a year and a half before it starts.

That's 18 times the amount spent that was spent in a comparable time frame four years ago, the Washington Post reported, causing more than a few raised eyebrows within the party.

Critics of RNC Chairman Michael Steele have also focused on a lucrative job given to his longtime aide, Belinda Cook, convention-related gigs given to her family and friends and a variety of large expenses footed by the RNC.

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Right after Peter Orszag left the White House, there was a moment of tension between himself and some of his former colleagues when he took to the New York Times to propose a tax cut compromise that the administration doesn't support. The idea was to extend all the Bush tax cuts temporarily, but only as part of a grand bargain to tackle comprehensive tax reform in two years. Democrats worried that Republicans would just ignore the caveat and put Democrats in a corner by adopting the "Orszag plan" as their own.

Here's freshly minted Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) to me and a few reporters this afternoon. He supports a temporary extension of all the tax cuts "Because Peter Orszag is a very serious person who had the eye and the ear of the President... I take him very seriously. I'm pro-Orszag."

Going into today's leadership meeting with President Obama at the White House, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) drew the battle lines against Democrats in a floor speech this morning, attacking Dem proposals to have the Bush tax cuts expire on incomes of over $1 million.

As The Hill reports, McConnell slammed a proposal from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), though he did not directly name Schumer according to the prepared remarks. McConnell fired back, saying that this was a purely political move to raise taxes on businesses.

"Some Democrats now say they only want to raise taxes on businesses that make more than $1 million a year," said McConnell. "Where did that number come from? Well, it turns out this figure has no economic justification whatsoever. Nowhere will you find a study or survey which indicates that raising taxes on small businesses with over $1 million in income will create jobs or help spur the economy."

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For weeks now, Republicans have been intoning darkly about the possibility that Americans will see a historic tax increase if Congress (read: Democrats) and the White House don't act. At the same time, they've come out strongly against just about all of the compromise proposals Democrats have put forward to prevent the Bush tax cuts on the middle class from expiring.

The implication is that Republicans are willing, if it comes down to it, to let all the tax cuts expire at the end of the year, and pin it on the Democrats. But what if Democrats turned those tactics right back on the GOP:? They could hold firm on their framework -- which would allow the top-income tax cuts to expire quickly -- and then unload on the Republicans if January 1 comes and taxes rise.

Not that it matters: They're not gonna do it.

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