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  • GOP leader Cantor opposes Senate 'cliff' bill

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The No. 2 Republican in the House leadership says he opposes a Senate-passed measure to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., right, leaves a Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House leadership says he opposes a Senate-passed measure to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor told reporters after a two-hour closed-door meeting Tuesday with his GOP lawmakers that... Full story

  • GOP leader Cantor opposes Senate 'cliff' bill

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The No. 2 Republican in the House leadership says he opposes a Senate-passed measure to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., right, leaves a Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House leadership says he opposes a Senate-passed measure to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor told reporters after a two-hour closed-door meeting Tuesday with his GOP lawmakers that...

  • Senate leaders offer dour take on 'cliff' talks

    ALAN FRAM, ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The top Senate negotiators on the effort to prevent the government from going over the "fiscal cliff" offered a pessimistic assessment Sunday barely 24 hours before a deadline to avert tax hikes on virtually every worker. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he's yet to receive a response to an offer he made on Saturday evening to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the top Democratic negotiator. The Kentucky Republican said he's reached out to Vice President Joe Biden in hopes of breaking the impasse... Full story

  • Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii dead at 88

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the influential Democrat who broke racial barriers on Capitol Hill and played key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, died Monday. He was 88. Inouye, a senator since January 1963, was currently the longest serving senator and was president pro tempore of the Senate, third in the line presidential succession. His office said Monday that he died of respiratory complications at a Washington-area hospital. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File... Full story

  • GOP retools plan as Congress seeks debt fix

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. speaks with reporters Tuesday on the Hill Capitol in Washington about the conflicting plans to deal with the debt crisis. WASHINGTON — Six days away from a potentially calamitous government default, House Republicans appeared to be coalescing today around a work-in-progress plan by House Speaker John Boehner that would increase the U. S. borrowing limit and chop $1 billion in federal spending. But Senate Democrats labeled the GOP proposal a non-starter ...

  • Study: Rich get a lot richer, outpace middle class

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The richest 1 percent of Americans have been getting far richer over the last three decades while the middle class and poor have seen their after-tax household income only crawl up in comparison, according to a government study. After-tax income for the top 1 percent of U.S. households almost tripled, up 275 percent, from 1979 to 2007, the Congressional Budget Office found. For people in the middle of the economic scale, after-tax income grew by just 40 percent. Those at the bottom experienced an 18 percent...

  • House plans vote on Federal balanced budget amendment

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — House GOP leaders are planning a vote Thursday on a proposed amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget. The vote comes as Congress struggles to pass legislation increasing the government's borrowing cap to avoid a U. S. default, and could help spur movement on the debt limit issue. Some tea party-backed lawmakers are insisting on passage of a balanced budget amendment before they consider voting to increase the government's borrowing authority. Thursday's vote comes in the wake of House passage...

  • Tax cut survives: Congress votes holiday approval

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Barely beating Santa's sleigh, Congress delivered a last-minute holiday tax-cut extension to 160 million American wage-earners on Friday, just when it looked like they and millions of unemployed workers were going to be left with coal in their stockings. It was a major yearend political victory for President Barack Obama, a big slice of humble pie for House Republicans and a blow to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who'll have an angry band of tea party lawmakers to deal with when Congress returns to...

  • Boehner: House leaders accept Senate tax terms

    ANDREW TAYLOR, LAURIE KELLMAN - Associated Press

    WASHINGTON— Their isolation complete, House Republicans on Thursday caved to demands by President Barack Obama, congressional Democrats and fellow Republicans for a short-term renewal of payroll tax cuts for all workers. After days of wrangling that even House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged "may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world," the Ohio Republican abruptly changed course and dropped demands for immediate holiday season talks with the Senate. The breakthrough probably spares workers a hit in... Full story

  • Boehner: House leaders accept Senate tax terms

    ANDREW TAYLOR, LAURIE KELLMAN - Associated Press

    WASHINGTON— Their isolation complete, House Republicans on Thursday caved to demands by President Barack Obama, congressional Democrats and fellow Republicans for a short-term renewal of payroll tax cuts for all workers. After days of wrangling that even House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged "may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world," the Ohio Republican abruptly changed course and dropped demands for immediate holiday season talks with the Senate. The breakthrough probably spares workers a hit in...

  • Debt panel poised to admit failure

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — A special deficit-reduction supercommittee appears likely to admit failure on Monday, unable or unwilling to compromise on a mix of spending cuts and tax increases required to meet its assignment of saving taxpayers at least $1.2 trillion over the coming decade. The panel is sputtering to a close after two months of talks in which the members were never able to get close to bridging a fundamental divide over how much to raise taxes to address a budget deficit that forced the government to borrow 36 cents of...

  • Obama budget: Some cuts, not the slashes GOP asks

    ANDREW TAYLOR, The Associated Press

    President Barack Obama reaches to shake hands with 8th graders as he speaks at Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology, in Parkville, Md., Monday. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster Obama budget: Some cuts, not the slashes GOP asks ANDREW TAYLOR, The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Putting on the brakes after two years of big spending increases, President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion budget plan Monday that would freeze or reduce some safety-net programs for the nation's poor but turn aside Republican demands for...

  • Deficit 'supercommittee' struggles as clock ticks

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The supercommittee is struggling. After weeks of secret meetings, the 12-member deficit-cutting panel established under last summer's budget and debt deal appears no closer to a breakthrough than when talks began last month. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, talks on his cell phone outside a closed-door meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on Capitol Hill on Sept. 27. After weeks of secret meetings the... Full story

  • Obama calls meeting with leaders 'constructive'

    ANDREW TAYLOR, JIM KUHNHENN - Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama described a debt-crisis session Thursday with congressional leaders as "very constructive" but said the parties were still far apart on deficit reduction proposals. He said he would reconvene the negotiators on Sunday. Thursday's meeting came amid signals that the White House was willing to reduce costs for major benefit programs including Social Security and Medicare, while Republicans indicated they might consider new steps to raise government revenue. "People were frank," Obama said,...

  • Democrats unveil counteroffer easing GOP cuts

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    Democrats unveil counteroffer easing GOP cuts ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats unveiled a detailed counteroffer Friday seeking to undo tens of billions of dollars in cuts Republicans would make to education, housing and other domestic programs. With the two parties maneuvering for advantage in their budget clash, the Democratic plan conforms to President Barack Obama's opening gambit to cut another $6.5 billion from domestic agencies. But neither it nor the $61 billion in cuts passed by...

  • Debt-limit bill passed, on its way to Obama

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The Senate emphatically passed emergency legislation today to avoid a first-ever government default, rushing the legislation to President Barack Obama for his signature just hours before the deadline. The vote was 74-26. Obama planned to sign the bill promptly and also was making remarks at the White House. Today's vote capped an extraordinarily difficult Washington battle pitting tea party Republican forces in the House against Obama and Democrats controlling the Senate. The resulting compromise paired an...

  • Republicans press Obama on spending

    ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Top House Republicans pressed President Barack Obama Wednesday for a detailed plan on budget cuts, and one leading lawmaker accused him of distorting a GOP Medicare proposal at the center of the partisan divide over spending. White House press secretary Jay Carney said the meeting was productive despite the absence of any signs of progress. He also made clear that Obama has no intention of letting up on his assertions that Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to send future Medicare recipients into the private insurance marke... Full story

  • Deficit panel leaders' plan curbs on Social Security

    ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press

    Deficit panel leaders' plan curbs Social Security WASHINGTON (AP) — The leaders of President Barack Obama's bipartisan deficit commission launched a daring assault on mushrooming federal deficits on Wednesday, proposing reducing annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security, gradually raising the retirement age to 69 and taking aim at popular tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction. As part of a proposal to wrestle $1-trillion-plus deficits under control, their plan would also curb the growth of Medicare....

  • Lone holdout gives in, Senate Oks jobless benefits

    ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON

    Putting a lone senator's cantankerous challenge behind it, the Senate is back to work on a $100 billionplus bill reviving popular tax breaks and extending longer and more generous jobless benefits through the end of the year. Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning relented Tuesday evening, freeing the Senate to approve stopgap legislation extending for another month a host of programs, including highway funding, health insurance subsidies for the unemployed and benefits for the longterm jobles s. That gives Congress time to...