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Let me preface this by acknowledging that the fiscal commission quickly devolved from a questionable White House initiative into a clown show, and that, beyond the small population of DC-based "deficit hawks," you'd be hard pressed to find anybody in America who thinks it was productive, or a wise political exercise, or whatever.

But 11 out of 18 votes is actually a lot of votes. And as a microcosm of the sorts of people who will ultimately make these sorts of spending and revenue decisions, it's worth recognizing that, in the years ahead, we're much more likely to see Congress addressing deficits under something like the Bowles-Simpson model, rather than the Jan Schakowsky model (neither of which really tackles health care, which is really the only part of this equation that matters).

This is just an educated guess, but I'd imagine that the Schakowsky plan would've garnered about four of 18 votes on this commission.

The day after Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen again called for Congress to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the joint chiefs themselves testified on Capitol Hill and, as promised, were "less sanguine" about repeal than their bosses.

But whether for or against repeal, they all said their branch could and would implement it.

"At the end of the day, we are Marines," said Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Should Congress change the law, then our nation's Marine Corps will faithfully support the law."

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Riding high on their midterm election gains, Republicans have argued for extending all of the Bush tax cuts due to expire at the end of the year, as opposed to a Democratic proposal to extend them only for Americans' first $250,000 of income.

Despite House Republican leader John Boehner's assertion that Republicans would "stop all the tax hikes" a CBS News poll released Thursday found that a majority of Americans would rather see tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire while extending them for everyone else.

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After weeks of tumultuous negotiations, the White House's fiscal commission adjourned today without agreement on a controversial plan to reduce deficits by slashing spending and lowering income tax rates.

Recognizing that they'd fail to meet the 14-vote threshold for passage, the 18-member commission ultimately did not take a final vote. However, members announced their positions ahead of today's final meeting, and in the end a majority -- according to Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), 11 in total -- claimed to support the proposal.

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Republican Joe Miller argued yesterday that expediting his Alaska Senate lawsuit is unnecessary because there's no "evidence at all" that suggests Sen. Lisa Murkowski will lose her seniority if she's not seated by January 3. But even if she did, Miller said, who cares, because the House might ban earmarks anyway.

"What exactly are we getting for it?" he asked.

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by Jeff Gerth, ProPublica

Newly released documents from the Federal Reserve Board show that General Electric Co. was a significant user of one of the Fed's rescue programs in the fall of 2008, even as the blue-ribbon company enjoyed the highest credit rating available at the time.

Over several weeks in late 2008, GE borrowed $16 billion by selling commercial paper through the Fed. Companies like GE typically rely on these short-term IOUs to fund daily operations, but as the credit crisis unfolded that fall, private markets were virtually frozen.

GE publicly disclosed in late October 2008 that it had entered the Fed's program but did not reveal the extent of its borrowings.

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