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House Passes Controversial Tax Legislation

Dec 17, 2010

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The controversial package extends long term unemployment benefits to jobless Americans and cuts Social Security taxes for a year. It renews some Bush-era tax cuts that were about to expire. AP notes the new expiration date for these tax cuts is 2012: right at the end of an election year.

It passed the House 277-148, but NPR's Andrea Seabrook tells Morning Edition many Democrats hated it because it didn't require wealthier Americans to pay more in taxes, while Republicans mourned the fact the tax cuts were only extended and not made permanent.

Update: in an earlier version of this story, I incorrectly tabulated the House vote.

MEANWHILE, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CAPITOL

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yanked the omnibus budget bill from the Senate floor last night after he saw it did not have the votes to pass. Politico reports Reid once had support from Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP senators:

McConnell, embarrassed by reports on his own earmarks in the omnibus, went to the Senate floor Thursday to propose a one page, "clean" two month extension of the current stop gap funding resolution that has kept the government funded since Oct. 1. And as if caught with their hands in the cookie jar, he and other top Republicans vowed to do everything in their powers to kill the omnibus to square themselves with their tea party backers.

Frank writes for our It's All Politics blog that if the GOP passes the spending baton to the next Congress, their larger numbers will give them more strength to pass federal spending cuts.

DOUBLE MESSAGE TO IRELAND: GOOD WORK! NO, BAD WORK!

Moody's, the credit rating agency, slashed Ireland's credit rating by five notches, close to non-investment levels. The company warned it could cut the rating again. Bloomberg notes the Irish government's bank bailouts could cost that country up to half of its gross domestic product.

At the same time, European Union leaders, who supported Ireland's decision to ask for financial help to stabilize its finances, agreed to take more steps to protect the euro. The New York Times says EU countries will set up a fund to bail out countries in economic distress:

But even as they moved to restore investor confidence, the seriousness of the euro's plight was underlined by events in beleaguered countries. Spain paid a sharply higher interest rate on an auction of long-term bonds than in its previous sale, reflecting investor fears about the country's indebted economy.

And that was before the Moody's decision.

Pay Attention: the Wall Street Journal says it now costs more to insure EU countries that use the euro against loan defaults.

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP

Continuing this morning's monetary theme, here's one from the AP: Shoppers searching for something sparkly to put under the Christmas tree can skip the jewelry and go straight to the source: an ATM that dispenses shiny 24-carat gold bars and coins. It'll be installed in a Boca Raton, Fla. mall. This picture doesn't do it justice - you really gotta go watch the corporate video, here.

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