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Democratic Congressional leaders are steamed at President Obama for locking in a deal with Republicans to extend all the Bush tax cuts temporarily. It's just caving, they say, and it punts the tax cut fight into the next election. But in exchange for agreeing to the extension, Obama got Republicans to agree to a year-long extension of unemployment benefits, and a year-long, two percentage point reduction in the payroll tax, meant to mimic a temporary extension of the tax breaks that were in the stimulus bill. Each of these concessions will inject much-needed demand into the economy. Could this silver lining be bright enough to make the extension of all the cuts worth it?

According to progressive economists, it will help, but won't make a huge dent.

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This Wednesday, before we ever get to votes on the tax cut compromise, we're going to see a flurry of activity in the Senate with four separate cloture votes, including big ticket items like the DREAM Act, and a Cost of Living Adjustment for seniors. It's in the nature of how this stuff works, though, that if you move like this simultaneously on four things at once, you're basically announcing that you know at least three of them will fail.

And given this, it's almost certainly all four.

Senior White House officials tonight put a positive spin on the tax cut framework President Obama has agreed to with the GOP, while insisting, repeatedly, that they oppose -- and will only reluctantly swallow -- a two year extension of the Bush tax cuts. But the tentative deal is now subject to the consideration of Congressional Democrats who have already telegraphed serious concerns with the plan.

On a conference call with reporters, administration officials boasted of securing nearly $200 billion in new stimulus measures -- a one-year, two-percent payroll tax cut, and a year-long extension of unemployment insurance -- in exchange for giving the wealthiest Americans two further years of tax cuts. But though this framework will punt the tax cut fight into the 2012 elections, frightening a number of Congressional Democrats, the officials insist that they will not shy away from the fight as election season heats up.

Addressing the media tonight, President Obama outlined the compromise.

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1||December 5, 2010: Celebrities and politicians gathered over the weekend to celebrate this year's Kennedy Center honorees. Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, country singer Merle Haggard, Broadway composer Jerry Herman and dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones received the cultural accolade. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama joined the recipients during the gala held at the Kennedy Center in Washington. A recording of the event is scheduled to air December 28 on CBS.

Here are more photos from the weekend's events.||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

2||Former Beatles bassist Paul McCartney at a reception in the White House's East Room.||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

3||Bill T. Jones (left), Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey during a reception in the East Room.||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

4||Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

5||Legendary television host Oprah Winfrey||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

6||Country singer/songwriter Merle Haggard||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

7||Actress Julia Roberts opened the ceremony, describing Oprah's show as a "universal conversation starter."||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

8||Actor Alec Baldwin introduced Paul McCartney's tribute.||Gary Fabiano/SIPA/Newscom&&

9||First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama at the Kennedy Center in Washington.||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

10||President Obama delivers remarks during a reception in the White House's East Room. From left, Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.||Gary Fabiano/UPI/Newscom&&

11||December 4: Politicians and family alike arrived on the red carpet for the Artists Dinner at the State Department.

Former U.S. ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith (center) with William Kennedy Smith and Victoria Reggie Kennedy.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

12||Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) with his wife, Abigail.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

13||Bob Schieffer, host of CBS' Face the Nation with his wife, Patricia.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

14||Iconic singer Smokey Robinson, a 2006 Kennedy Center honoree.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

15||Kenneth Duberstein, who served as former President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff, arrives with his wife, Jacqueline.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

16||Actor John Lithgow||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

17||CBS President and CEO Les Moonves with his wife, Julie Chen.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

18||Gwen Stefani, singer for the Grammy-award winning band No Doubt.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

19||Actor Laurence Fishburne and his wife, Gina.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

20||Actress and singer Christine Ebersole and her husband, William Moloney.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

21||Musician Norah Jones and Michael Martin.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

22||Actor John Travolta on Sunday decided to skip dinner and visit the Peking Gourmet Inn, a restaurant made famous by former President George W. Bush.||MeetTheFamous/Mark Wilkins/Newscom&&

23||Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) with his wife, Lucy Calautti, back at the Artists Dinner at the State Department.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

24||Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and an unidentified guest.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

25||Tennis legend John McEnroe arriving Sunday for the Kennedy Center Honors.||MeetTheFamous/Mark Wilkins/Newscom&&

26||Legendary singer Diana Ross, a 2007 Kennedy Center honoree, arrives at the Artists Dinner with her son.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

27||Actor Kelsey Grammer and his fiance, Kayte Walsh.||PAPFIRST/Splash News/Newscom&&

28||Former House Speaker and potential 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, arrive at the festivities Sunday.||MIKE THEILER/UPI/Newscom&&

29||Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and his wife, Alma, on Sunday.||TRIPPLAAR KRISTOFFER/SIPA/Newscom&&

30||U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and her husband, Gary, arrive at the Artist's Dinner.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

31||Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and his wife, Marjorie Anne.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom &&

32||Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen and his wife, Janet.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

33||Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

34||Michael M. Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

35||Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

The White House and GOP reached an agreement in principle today to extend all the Bush tax cuts for two years, TPM has confirmed.

In exchange, the GOP has agreed to the Kyl-Lincoln estate tax compromise: raising the estate tax on estates larger than $5 million to 35 percent for two years and continuing to exempt smaller estates. The GOP has also agreed to a temporary stimulative payroll tax cut: instead of extending the making-work-pay tax credit in the stimulus bill, they've reportedly tentatively agreed to a one-year, two percent reduction in the payroll tax. Lastly, the Republicans have agreed to a extend unemployment benefits retroactively from December through the end of 2011 -- 13 months altogether.

These details were first reported by the Daily Caller.

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Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller appeared today on Fox News with Neil Cavuto, and brushed off concern that his legal maneuvering to try to stop the apparent victory of incumbent GOP Senator and write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski would damage the state, by depriving it of a second Senator. Furthermore, he seemed to say that Alaska having a full complement of senators would only further the "fiscal destruction of the nation" if the other senator is Murkowski.

Cavuto asked about comments today from Alaska's Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, who called upon Miller to concede and not hold up the certification of Murkowski's win: "I'm sorry, but are you concerned, as Sen. Begich pointed out, that whatever your reasons -- and they might be perfectly justified -- Alaska stands a pretty good likelihood now of having just one senator for a while, when some of the biggest issues of our time are being debated."

"Yeah, and I guess the question becomes, is that one extra vote gonna be used to continue to grow government, continue the largesse, to continue earmarks -- to basically continue the fiscal destruction of the nation?" Miller responded. "And frankly, I don't think we need that.

"But you know, getting more to the point, I don't think anybody's actually proven there's gonna be adverse impact. Hopefully, this process can be resolved quickly, and before, you know, the January swearing-in date."

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by Marian Wang, ProPublica

After a Baltimore hospital barred a cardiologist for allegedly performing unnecessary implants of heart stents, the company that manufactures the stents hired him to consult and market the devices, according to internal e-mails and memos released today in a Senate Finance Committee report.

Abbott Laboratories manufactured the stents that Dr. Mark Midei used frequently before St. Joseph Medical Center revoked his hospital privileges in May 2009. The hospital decided to bar the head of its cardiology department after an expert panel reviewed patient records and concluded that 585 of his patients may have undergone unnecessary heart procedures to implant the stents, which are used to open blocked arteries in the heart. (Midei disputes this, and has sued the hospital for causing irreparable damage to his career.)

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Looks like a tax cut compromise will be announced imminently. From there, the House and Senate will have to sort out a few procedural issues. For instance: does the House or Senate act first? If the Senate makes the first move, it will have to be careful not to repeat this embarrassing blunder.

I suspect that you'll see Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell usher the cuts through Congress without too much trouble, with the help of a strange coalition: a sizable majority of Republicans, and a large minority (or small majority) of Democrats. But the package will still likely need 60 votes, so we'll have to keep our eyes on defectors.

News has emerged that the health of Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards (D-NC), has taken a turn for the worse. A statement issued by her family indicates that she is no longer receiving treatment for her metastatic breast cancer, and is resting at home with her family and friends.

People magazine reports:

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Questions about entrapment have dogged counter-terrorism cases for some time, most recently in the case of the Oregon man charged with trying to blow up a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony. Now, from The Washington Post, comes the story of Craig Monteilh, a self-proclaimed FBI informant who was so aggressive in his quest to find potential terrorists at a California mosque that the community got a restraining order against him.

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