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The Progress Report – A Taxing Decision

From The Progress Report:

Think Fast

Media Matters obtained internal Fox News correspondence authored by the network’s leadership, including D.C. managing editor Bill Sammon, which reveal that Fox bosses instructed their journalists not to use the term “public option” during the health care fight. Sammon wrote that Fox’s reporters should instead use “government option” and similar phrases. Polling by Frank Luntz showed that using “government option” language made the public option unpopular.

After leading the fight against gays in the military in 1993, former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) reversed his position on DADT and now says it should be overturned as long as the Pentagon is given a year to prepare for the change. Nunn, who once believed gay troops would hurt cohesion and morale, said he was swayed by military testimony and recognized that “society has changed, and the military has changed.”

The House passed the DREAM Act last night along party lines. The measure “offers a path to citizenship for young people who were brought to this country illegally before age 16 and who have enrolled in college or entered the military.” President Obama said the vote was historic and urged the Senate to pass the bill, however the measure “faces a tough test” in the upper chamber.

Dealing “the final blow” to Obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo Bay, Congress passed a provision yesterday that blocks closing the prison or any of its suspected terrorist detainees from transfer to the U.S. for trial. The Department of Justice rebuked the provision, saying it limits “the tools available to the executive branch in bringing terrorists to justice and advancing our national security interests.”

Republicans have selected Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) to lead the powerful House Appropriations committee, which oversees federal spending. Rogers, however, is a prodigious earmarker known as the “Prince of Pork” for the hundreds of millions of dollars he has steered to his state. The Wall Street Journal reports that “some fiscal conservatives are asking whether he’s the right man to chair” the committee.

Internet activists are declaring a “cyberwar” against multinational companies and other organizations they have deemed hostile to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. After Assange’s arrest in Britain this week, hackers attacked the websites of WikiLeak’s “enemies,” causing several of them “to become inaccessible or slow down markedly.”

Former GOP Florida governor Jeb Bush said yesterday that he opposes Arizona-style immigration laws that allow law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they deem suspicious — something that lawmakers in Florida are now proposing. Bush said his children might look suspicious to police and “[i]t’s the wrong approach.”

The House of Representatives “narrowly approved a stripped-down budget bill Wednesday evening, cutting nearly $46 billion from President Barack Obama’s requests.” At the end of the process, the budget totaled $1.09 trillion.

And finally: While the White House scrambles to line up the votes for its tax cut deal, one Democratic congressman isn’t budging. Appearing on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said that members of the House Democratic caucus are asking, “Why should we take this vote? We’re going to get blamed for adding to the deficit. This isn’t the dream act, this is the Republican wet dream act.

A Taxing Decision

President Obama’s $900 billion tax deal with congressional Republicans gained “a wave of new Democratic support” yesterday, signaling that the measure will make it through Congress, provided most Republicans support it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the Senate could vote on the package as soon as today or tomorrow, suggesting he is confident of its prospects in the upper chamber. Congressional Democrats have been largely displeased with the deal — which will extend for two years the Bush tax cuts for all income brackets, including the wealthiest two percent of Americans, in exchange for extending unemployment benefits and middle-class tax breaks — but many appear to be coming around. Democrats strongly objected to extending the bonus cuts for “millionaires and billionaires” because it will greatly increase the deficit while providing little stimulus for the economy or the middle class. A large number of Democrats had threatened to vote against the package, and, calling the deal an “absolute disaster,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has even threatened to filibuster it. But their most strenuous objection to the compromise was directed at the estate tax provision, which sets a 35 percent tax rate on estates worth more than $5 million. The White House has lobbied aggressively to win support for the deal in the last few days, sending Vice President Biden to Capitol Hill and other administration officials across Washington “to press their case.” And White House economic adviser Larry Summers delivered a grave warning to members of Congress yesterday, saying, “If they don’t pass this bill in the next couple of weeks, it would materially increase the risk the economy would stall out and we would have a double dip [recession].” But despite the fact that many in the party support the measure, and that the compromise appears poised to pass, some “Democrats in the House and Senate were still seething with anger — both about the substance of the deal…and the way they were iced out of the negotiations,” the New York Times reported yesterday. In a non-binding vote within the House Democratic caucus today, the caucus voted to reject the tax cut deal.

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