Given the last couple of years of brinkmanship, chest-thumping and ultimatum-giving, the fact that both Democrats and Republicans are acting downright reasonable in the fiscal cliff negotiations is shocking.
Conversations with those on Capitol Hill, indicate this is not just an act. The election - and the debt ceiling disaster - actually has shaped behavior.
One high-level House Democratic insider told ABC News Political Director Amy Walter: "Everyone learned their lessons. Look like you're playing nice."
A top Republican staffer put it this way: "There is a zero-drama way to get this done."
And although House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi offered a firm "no" when asked in an interview with ABC's Martha Raddatz on "This Week" if a deal to avoid plunging off the fiscal cliff could exclude tax rate hikes on the wealthy, she also sounded downright conciliatory when it came to the tone of the negotiations more generally.
"As one with a seat at the table, I don't think it's my role to go to the table with a threat. I think it's my role to go to the table with some ideas, to be receptive to what we can come to agreement on," Pelosi told Raddatz. "I'm not criticizing statements others make, but what I am saying is that there's too much at risk."
If they do strike a deal before the end of the year, Congress may actually see something they haven't seen in a long time: a bump up in their approval ratings. (Surveys show that currently more than three-quarters of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing.)
After eight years of tribal warfare Congressional leaders may have finally realized that the only way to improve their own standing is to show the American public they can actually work with the other side.
"THIS WEEK" REWIND: NUTS AND CHEWS.
NANCY PELOSI: NO DEAL WITHOUT TAX HIKES ON THE WEALTHY. ABC's Martha Raddatz asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi if she could accept a fiscal-cliff deal that did not include higher tax rates on the wealthy. Pelosi's answer: "No." The minority leader continued: "Just to close loopholes is far too little money, if it's-and it could be they have said they want it to be revenue-neutral. If it's going to bring in revenue, the president has been very clear that the higher-income people have to pay their fair share." http://abcn.ws/XiQAB5
PETER KING: SOMEONE CHANGED RICE'S TALKING POINTS. Discussing U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's statement son the Benghazi attack, in which she suggested that the latest available intelligence indicated they sprang from a protest related to the anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S., House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., said Rice's talking points had been altered by someone in the administration. King: "When General Clapper and General Petraeus signed off on those talking points, it had different language in them. When they went over to the administration, we don't know whether it was the White House, the National Security Council, the Justice Department, or the Defense Department, that language was changed. That was not the language that was sent over by the intelligence community as a consensus statement." http://abcn.ws/UAX8DI
NEWT GINGRICH: ROMNEY'S 'GIFTS' COMMENTS WERE 'NUTS.' Reacting to Mitt Romney's comments on a call with high-level donors accusing President Obama of buying votes with "financial gifts" to minority and lower-income Americans, his former rival for the nomination teed off. On our "This Week" roundtable, former House speaker Newt Gingrich said, " I just think it's nuts. I mean, first of all, it's insulting. This would be like Wal-Mart having a bad week and going, 'The customers have really been unruly.' I mean, the job of a political leader in part is to understand the people. If we can't offer a better future that is believable to more people, we're not going to win."
TWILIGHT FOR THE TWINKIE? With Hostess shuttering its factories, George Will predicted on our "This Week" roundtable: "I liked Hostess cupcakes, but don't despair. Someone's going to buy - someone's going to - the brand has value. Someone will buy it." http://abcn.ws/U4hIhz
More video and transcripts from Sunday's edition of "This Week" guest hosted by ABC's Martha Raddatz: http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
RICK SANTORUM'S PRESCRIPTION FOR REPUBLICANS. In a USA Today op-ed, former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum writes: "We Republicans are in a box, one largely of our own making. The American electorate didn't buy our box. Millions stayed home instead - not because of how the box was wrapped, but rather, what we didn't include in it. … Conservative Republicans need to put the policies in our box that will fix our failing schools, make hard work pay off and encourage family stability. This will mean true tax reform, supporting sectors such as energy and manufacturing, and promoting a family-first economic agenda that recognizes the unique role of the family as the bedrock of lower middle income America. … It's about the fact that a vast majority of Americans want a better life for themselves and their families. They want the opportunity for work and independence. They want a good education for their kids. And they want to feel safe from harm." http://usat.ly/10eQ7gX
with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)
OBAMA: 'WE ARE FULLY SUPPORTIVE OF ISRAEL'S RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF.' As President Obama visits Bangkok, Thailand, ABC's Mary Bruce and Reena Ninan report from his trip there: Speaking at a joint press conference with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Obama called for an end to the firing of missiles into Israel by militants inside Gaza, saying "there is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders." … "Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory," he said. "If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that's preferable. That's not just preferable for the people in Gaza, it's also preferable for the Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they are much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded." http://abcn.ws/U85Fjm
LEVIN: EGYPT MAKING 'WEAK' EFFORTS IN GAZA. ABC's Abby Phillip reports on more from "This Week": Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. said on Sunday that Egypt has made only "weak" efforts to influence its ally Hamas to de-escalate the conflict with Israel. "It's pretty weak so far from what I can tell. The Egyptians have a real interest here in the region not exploding and the peace agreement continuing to be abided by," Levin told ABC News' Martha Raddatz on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." http://abcn.ws/TbmY43
OBAMA JOKES ABOUT FISCAL CLIFF AT BUDDHIST TEMPLE. ABC's Mary Bruce reports from Bangkok, Thailand: Taking a break from deficit negotiations for a whirlwind tour of southeast Asia, President Obama joked this afternoon as he toured a sacred Buddhist temple that he could use some prayer to help reach a budget deal. "We're working on this budget, we're going to need a lot of prayer for that," the president told a monk at the Wat Pho Royal Monastery. http://abcn.ws/Ua8y59
OBAMA VISTING A MORE HOPEFUL MYANMAR. USA Today's Calum MacLeod reports from Rangoon: "From businessmen chasing new markets to basketball players serving as sports envoys, the past year has seen an unprecedented wave of American visitors to the once-pariah state of Burma. On Monday, President Obama arrived. … Graffiti artist Arker Kyaw recently sprayed a wall mural to welcome Obama in downtown Rangoon, also known as Yangon. Video producer Thu Myat, also a graffiti artist, said the fast growth of street art and slogans reflected the political and social changes here. He disapproved of Kyaw's stunt as too respectful of hierarchy-'I believe police let him do it; it's weird he was not arrested'-but he is confident the lifting of sanctions and Obama's visit will bring benefits. 'Obama showed the green light to every country,' he said. 'Now Burmese people must grab the opportunity for themselves.'" http://usat.ly/S9px5f
REPUBLICANS MOURNING FOR MITT? NOT SO MUCH. With Republicans rejecting Mitt Romney's comments about Obama voters on a call with high-level donors last week, ABC's Michael Falcone reports: Republicans are over it. And most of them aren't doing much mourning for Mitt Romney. … "I've never run for president-I've lost elections but never for the presidency-and I'm sure it stings terribly," New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie said in an interview Friday morning with MSNBC, but added: "When you lose, you lost." … "The campaign is over," [New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte] said in an MSNBC interview on Thursday, "and what the voters are looking for us to do is to accept their votes and go forward." … It took almost no time for GOP leaders to disavow Romney's assessment. http://abcn.ws/TTotlU
MCCAIN WANTS RICE TO ADMIT SHE WAS WRONG. ABC's Michael Ono reports: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would like for Susan Rice to admit that she gave out "wrong information" days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, that killed four Americans. "Maybe she could start out by publicly coming back on this show and saying, I was wrong, I gave the wrong information on your show some several weeks ago," said McCain on CBS's "Face the Nation." http://abcn.ws/S9lsy4
DEMOCRATS RETAIN GIFFORDS'S HOUSE SEAT. ABC's Alyssa Newcomb reports: Democrat Ron Barber, former aide to Gabrielle Giffords, was declared the winner today of a tight congressional race in Southern Arizona. By late Friday, Barber had a 1,402-vote lead on his opponent, Republican Martha McSally, The Associated Press reported, adding that only 15,000 provisional ballots remained to be counted in the whole of Pima County, including areas not in the 2nd District, making it impossible for McSally to prevail. … In June, Barber won a special election in what was then Arizona's 8th Congressional District, to take over Gabrielle Giffords' seat following her resignation. http://abcn.ws/WoVTxn
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: RICK SCOTT IS MEDDLING IN ALLEN WEST RACE. With Rep. Allen West trailing in ballots but still fighting on, the Sun Sentinel's Anthony Man reports: "U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, flatly asserted in a statement that the Republican governor is attempting to interfere in the contest between Republican West and Democrat Patrick Murphy. A spokesman for Scott's secretary of state denied the Democrats' assertions. Unofficial results show Murphy as the winner, but the West campaign has asserted that counting irregularities in St. Lucie County-part of the 19th Congressional District, along with northern Palm Beach and Martin counties-make the results suspect." http://bit.ly/Q4Yytr
PHOTO: OBAMA AND MCKAYLA ARE NOT IMPRESSED. President Obama and U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney mimicked her "not impressed" face as the U.S. women's team visited the White House on Friday. Maroney tweeted: "Did I just do the Not Impressed face with the President..?" PHOTO: http://abcn.ws/UOUAlO
FIVE OBAMACARE BATTLES TO WATCH. While Republican's won't repeal the president's health-care law, The Hill's Sam Baker reports they could take aim at subsidies, taxes, insurance rules, and the IPAB cost-saving board. Baker reports: "Several healthcare industries want desperately to get rid of newly imposed taxes, and they see the prospect of broader tax reform as an opening. Medical device manufacturers have lobbied hard for the repeal of the law's device tax, and they have some measure of bipartisan support. Newly elected Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has said the tax should be repealed, and it has never been popular with other Democrats in device-heavy states, such as Indiana and Minnesota." http://bit.ly/T6Iq80
@howiewolf: @MikeBloomberg agrees " @CitizenCohn: Let the tax cuts expire - all of them http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/110302/fiscal-cliff-austerity-crisis-bush-tax-cuts-expire-temporary-extension …"
@matthewjdowd: Good monday morning. As a searcher my whole life, i now realize what you are looking for will find you, if you pause and be open to life.