Mike Allen: “The supercommittee last met Nov. 1 — three weeks ago! It was a public hearing featuring a history lesson, ‘Overview of Previous Debt Proposals,’ with Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin. The last PRIVATE meeting was Oct. 26. You might as well stop reading right there: The 12 members (6 House, 6 Senate; 6 R, 6 D) were never going to strike a bargain, grand or otherwise, if they weren’t talking to each other. Yes, we get that real deal-making occurs in small groups. But there never WAS a functioning supercommittee: There was Republican posturing and Democratic posturing, with some side conversations across the aisle.”
Just published: Diplomacy and Diamonds: My Wars from the Ballroom to the Battlefield by Joanne King Herring.
Washington Post: “She is perhaps best known as the financial backer of Congressman Charlie Wilson and his personal crusade on behalf of the mujahideen against the occupying Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. And that’s one of her less flamboyant accomplishments.”
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Newt Gingrich leading the Republican presidential field nationally with 24%, followed by Mitt Romney at 22%, Herman Cain at 12% and Rick Perry at 10%.
“As long as we have some Republican lawmakers who feel more enthralled
with a pledge they took to a Republican lobbyist than they do to a
pledge to the country to solve the problems, this is going to be hard to
— Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), in an interview with CNN, on Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge blocking compromise among the debt supercommittee members.
“The congressional committee tasked with reducing the federal deficit is poised to admit defeat as soon as Monday, and its unfinished business will set up a year-end battle over emergency jobless benefits and an expiring payroll tax holiday,” the Washington Post reports.
“The policy battle comes as the parties are gearing up for a high-stakes election season dominated by economic concerns, with both the White House and Congress in play. The political pressure that has helped keep the 12-member supercommittee from compromising on hot-button issues such as taxes is sure to grow more intense.”
Mitt Romney, “who has been cautiously calibrating expectations about his chances in a state full of social conservatives, is now playing to win the Iowa caucuses,” the New York Times reports.
“Television commercials are on the way, volunteers are arriving and a stealth operation is ready to burst into view in the weeks leading up to the caucuses, the first Republican nominating contest, on Jan. 3.”
“The escalation of his effort in Iowa, along with a more aggressive schedule in New Hampshire and an expanding presence in South Carolina, is the strongest indication yet that Mr. Romney is shifting from a defensive, make-no-mistakes crouch to an assertive offensive strategy. If he can take command in the three early-voting states, he could make the nominating battle a swift one.”
“Congress’s last-gasp deficit-cut talks broke into two tracks Friday, with members of a special committee continuing to seek an elusive $1.2 trillion deal while party leaders discussed a smaller, backup plan in case they fail,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Talk of a Plan B reflected the bleak outlook facing the committee as it heads into its final days. It technically has until Wednesday, but the real deadline is midnight Monday, since members by law need 48 hours to scrutinize any plan before voting on it.”
New York Times: “Despite time running out on the committee created by the summer agreement to raise the federal debt limit, negotiations were in disarray, with Republicans and Democrats even disputing what precisely divided them. One panel member said that he still had slim hope for a deal but that it would take an extraordinary development to end the stalemate and avoid a series of automatic cuts in 2013 that would reduce federal services and make substantial reductions in Pentagon spending.”
New census data to be released next week finds one in three Americans — about 100 million people — is in poverty or just above it, the New York Times reports.
“After a lost decade of flat wages and the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the findings can be thought of as putting numbers to the bleak national mood — quantifying the expressions of unease erupting in protests and political swings. They convey levels of economic stress sharply felt but until now hard to measure.”
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) will not run for governor in 2012, Politico reports.
“The seismic decision comes after months of damaging headlines over past trips to a strip club, taxpayer funded hotel stays and jarring outbursts on his Twitter account.”
“Kinder was making calls to donors and supporters as recent as this week informing them that he would still pursue his dream of the governorship, but sources say he changed his mind in the last 36 hours. ”
The House of Representatives voted 261-165 to reject a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, Politico reports.
The vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. The House last voted on a balanced budget amendment in 1995, which passed with a 300-132 vote.
A new Magellan Strategies poll in New Hampshire finds Mitt Romney barely edging Newt Gingrich among GOP presidential primary voters, 29% to 27%.
They are followed by Ron Paul at 16%, Herman Cain at 10%, Jon Huntsman at 8%, Michele Bachmann at 2%, Rick Perry at 2% and Rick Santorum at 1%.
“I haven’t had a gaffe or something that I’ve done that has caused me to fall in the polls.”
— Rep. Michele Bachmann, in an interview on Fox News.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee owns the rights to the Web domain name “jackabramoff.com” and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff wants it, Politico reports.
“Abramoff called the DCCC last week to ask — very politely — if they would be so nice as to give up the name. But the DCCC has no intention of doing so.”
Abramoff has now threatened legal action.
Just hours before Daw Aung San Suu Kyi announced her return to politics, President Obama said he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a visit to Myanmar next month, the New York Times reports.
“The twin events underscored the remarkable and sudden pace of change in Myanmar, which has stunned observers inside and outside the country, analysts said.”
The Washington Post notes “the two-day trip, starting Dec. 1, would mark the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state in 50 years.”