HURRICANE SANDY FUNDING FIRST VICTIM OF FISCAL CLIFF IMPASSE. ABC's Jonathan Karl reports on "Good Morning America" that the $60 billion request from the White House is likely to fall flat on Capitol Hill: "I do not think Hurricane Sandy funding will get done while there in an impasse. Republicans are already balking at the cost that represents almost everything that would be raised next year by raising the rates on the top two percent." Republicans also point out, Karl reports, that FEMA has enough money in its reserves to go through March. Is this payback for Chris Christie's pre-election Obama embrace?
THE MOST FASCINATING POLITICIANS OF 2012. Which two politicians made it onto Barbara Walters' list of the 10 most fascinating people of 2012? Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton. The New Jersey governor and the Secretary of State sat down with Walters for exclusive interviews in which they talked politics, 2016, age, weight, and the challenges of styling one's hair on the road.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: I DIDN'T HELP OBAMA WIN. In his interview with Barbara Walters Christie shot down the criticism from conservatives that his praise for Obama's handling of superstorm Sandy's aftermath hurt Mitt Romney's election prospects. "First of all, I didn't help [Obama] win," Christie told Barbara Walters. "I was doing my job … The fact of the matter is President Obama won the election pretty comfortably … I was doing my job as I saw fit to do it. And I told the truth, like I always do. The president did step up and help tremendously in New Jersey." http://abcn.ws/QVYPPH
HILLARY ON RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT: 'I REALLY DON'T BELIEVE THAT THAT'S SOMETHING I WILL DO AGAIN.' In her interview with Walters, Hillary Clinton said she doesn't have a plan for what she'll do immediately after leaving political life but that she wants to continue contributing to society in some way, perhaps in philanthropy or academia. But when pressed on whether her future will include a widely speculated 2016 run for president, Clinton maintained that she still does not plan to run. "I've said I really don't believe that that's something I will do again," she said. "I am so grateful I had the experience of doing it before." http://abcn.ws/Rq65ow
If there's one takeaway from Barbara Walters' Chris Christie interview last night it was this: the man is setting up to run for president in 2016.
The buzziest example, of course, was his pushback against Walters' question as to whether he was "too heavy" to be president.
"That's ridiculous," said Christie. "I mean, that's ridiculous. I don't know what the basis for that is."
When Walters' asked about his statement last year that he wasn't "ready" to be president, Christie responded that he wasn't ready for the campaign-a very important distinction. Not being "ready" to be president suggests deficiency in experience-not ready to campaign is simply a recognition of the difficulties of setting up a presidential operation.
And, while many potential 2016ers are quick to dismiss talk of a presidential run, Christie does not bat it down. When asked how he'll feel about running in 2016, Christie simply responds: "I have no idea how I'll feel."
Not exactly a Shermanesque statement.
But perhaps the most telling example of Christie's desire for a 2016 run: he was visibly torn when asked by Walters' to choose between being able to be a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band or be POTUS.
"You could be a member of of the E Street Band or President of the United States, which would you choose?" posed Walters.
Christie laughed, paused and then said: "I think at the moment, at the moment, I'd want to be a member of E Street band. A few years from now, who knows."
Call us crazy, but we're not holding our breath that the governor is going to take up guitar lessons anytime soon.
More from the interview: http://abcn.ws/UV2Owg
ABC'S RICK KLEIN: It's not just a matter of big business speaking. The question is whether it can actually say something meaningful in time to resolve the fiscal cliff standoff. Corporate America has gotten quite good at lecturing Washington about trying to do its job, and few institutions deserve such lectures more. But getting the parties-both parties-to move enough this late, off of long-sacred positions, will take more than platitudes about the need for compromise. We're starting to hear specificity about tax rates and breaks. But if the cliff is truly as terrifying to business as we're being told, the pressure has to build, and fast.
MORE FROM BARBARA WALTERS' INTERVIEWS:
CLINTON ON LIFE AFTER THE CABINET, HER DARKEST MOMENT IN THE JOB. Hillary Clinton made one thing abundantly clear in her interview: she is definitely leaving the Cabinet as soon as a new secretary is sworn in and a smooth transition occurs. "It sounds so simple, but I've been, as you know, at the highest levels of American and now international activities for twenty years, and I just thought it was time to take a step off … maybe do some reading and writing and speaking and teaching," she told Walters. Her darkest moment as secretary of State happened this year when terrorists in Libya attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, killing four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Clinton called the attack the "worst time" in her tenure. "It's something that is certainly terrible," she said. "We take risks in the work we do. The people who do this work are often in very threatening environments, whether it's our military or our civilian people around the world, I have just the most extraordinary admiration for them." http://abcn.ws/UEzFkI
NOTED: CLINTON'S HAIRSTYLING ROUTINE. "I do not travel with any hairdresser, or anybody, to help me do that, and I'm not very competent myself. I've been admitting that for years, which should be obvious to everyone," Clinton joked to Walters in a conversation that she referred to as "girl talk." "And so it became simpler to just grow it so that I can pull it back, and I can stick rollers in."
With ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield )
SPINNERS & WINNERS: HONEY I RAISED THE TOP TAX RATES. Husband-and-wife team Reps. Connie Mack, R-Fla., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., got some bad news on November 6. Both lost their elections and are now leaving Congress at the same time. But, ABC's Jonathan Karl reports, they've got one foot out the door during one of the most controversial lame duck sessions in recent history, and neither is budging on their votes-though they don't exactly see eye-to-eye on the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations with the White House. Karl spoke to the congressional couple in the latest episode of his ABC/Yahoo! show "Spinners & Winners." Bono Mack says she thinks President Obama and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will reach a deal that she will be able to support; Mack says if tax increases are part of the deal, it won't get his vote. http://yhoo.it/VCpUEN
STATE DEPT.: MISSILE LAUNCH WILL 'FURTHER ISOLATE' NORTH KOREA. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland on Wednesday called North Korea's deployment of an intercontinental ballistic missile "highly provocative" and said the country would face international consequences, ABC's Sarah Parnass and Luis Martinez report. The country's foreign ministry asked that the launch not be "overblown" in the international sphere, but U.S. officials are not holding back in expressing their displeasure. North Korea violated two U.N. Security Council resolutions with its launch of a missile Tuesday night, Nuland said. http://abcn.ws/Z12MYd
VIRGINIA GOVERNOR RACE: ONE TO WATCH. Terry McAuliffe has spent most of his time in politics helping the Clintons, and other members of his party, raise money and run for national office. His own political career has been less successful, although now he seems to have a clear shot at the Democratic nomination for governor in Virginia. ABC's Shush Walshe reports, barring any surprises, next year McAuliffe will be up against Ken Cuccinelli, the anti-Obamacare crusader who in a short time as Virginia's attorney general has galvanized conservatives by challenging the national health reform law and prodding the state's university system over climate change, as well as waging high-profile battles against abortion rights. http://abcn.ws/SThdaq
OUTGOING SEN. DEMINT SAYS OBAMA WILL WIN TAX FIGHT. The AP reports: " a leading conservative who's resigning from the Senate is predicting that President Barack Obama will win the battle over raising taxes. South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint calls it 'a political trophy' within Obama's grasp. Appearing Thursday on 'CBS This Morning,' DeMint says, quote, 'The president's proposal is not a plan, it's not a solution.' Asked why Obama and congressional Republicans can't agree on a plan to avert a fiscal cliff in less than three weeks, DeMint says both political parties have 'failed' the country." http://apne.ws/UFTW9r
SENATE INTERN ARRESTED AS UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT, REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER. An unpaid intern to Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was a registered sex offender and undocumented immigrant and is now facing deportation, a DHS official confirmed Wednesday to ABC News. ABC's Sunlen Miller and Jason Ryan report that the intern, 18 year-old Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta from Peru, who worked in a New Jersey office for Menendez, was arrested on December 6th. The senator's office was informed Monday of the arrest and the senator was informed today, Menendez said. The Senator defended his office's action today, emphasizing that the intern applied, was recommended and vetted by his school for the internship, not by the senator's office. http://abcn.ws/SS635M
WHAT THE AVERAGE AMERICAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE CAPITAL GAINS TAX. ABC's Susanna Kim reports: One of the most contentious issues in the debate over how to increase revenue may be a difference of almost 8 percentage points, but it has encouraged over a hundred companies to scramble to issue special dividend payments to shareholders ahead of the New Year. It's called the capital gains tax and it's the tax paid on the difference between the sale price of an investment asset, like a stock, and the cost. http://abcn.ws/VDhY5Q
BERNANKE SAYS FISCAL CLIFF ALREADY HURTING THE ECONOMY. The AP's Martin Crutsinger reports, "the U.S. economy is already being hurt by the 'fiscal cliff' standoff in Washington, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday. But Bernanke said the Fed believes the crisis will be resolved without significant long-term damage. The steep tax increases and spending cuts can be avoided with a successful budget deal, Bernanke said during a news conference after the Fed's final meeting of the year. The Fed's latest forecasts for stronger economic growth next year and slightly lower unemployment assume that happens … The Fed took more steps Wednesday to try and help boost economic growth and lower unemployment. The Fed said it would keep its key short-term interest rate near zero as long as unemployment remains above 6.5 percent and inflation stays tame." http://abcn.ws/VCtUoH
HILLARY CLINTON TO TESTIFY ON BENGHAZI REPORT ON DEC. 20. Reuters reports, "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify on Dec. 20 before the House of Representatives and Senate foreign affairs committees on a report on the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, the committees said on Wednesday." An accountability review board convened by the State Department is expected to release a report on the Benghazi attack before Clinton testifies. http://huff.to/SSmiQf
RETIRING SENATORS MAKE FAREWELL SPEECHES AS FISCAL CLIFF LOOMS. On Capitol Hill Wednesday, it was like the last day of school before final exams. With Congress in a stalemate over the fiscal cliff, the Senate floor was reserved for farewell speeches by retiring Senators. ABC's Sunlen Miller reports that the speeches -a tradition for those stepping down or from those who failed to win reelection-ranged from the emotional to the funny, from the provocative, to the odd and the poignant. http://abcn.ws/VBkqdo
CLIFF TALKS AND MIDDLE-CLASS INCOME MALAISE. The New York Times' Annie Lowrey reports, " the income stagnation that has hit the middle class in the last decade is complicating the Democrats' position in the fiscal talks, making it more difficult for them to advocate across-the-board tax increases if a deal falls through…The income and wealth trends of the last decade also create a longer-term dilemma for the party. By advocating the continuation of most of the Bush-era tax cuts, Democrats might find themselves confronting deeper-than-comfortable cuts to spending programs that aid the poor and middle class down the road." http://nyti.ms/VCtpee
WHAT IS A RIGHT-TO-WORK LAW? Right-to-work laws have garnered a lot of national attention in recent years as more states have implemented this legislation that prohibits unions from requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of their employment. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports, the laws are meant to regulate agreements between employers and labor unions that would prohibit the employer from hiring non-union workers. http://abcn.ws/Sh0wsE
SEN. MARCO RUBIO CONCEDES TO HIS THINNING HAIR. Marco Rubio has a lot of things going for him. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield notes that the freshmen senator from Miami is youthful, telegenic and very popular with his party. But Rubio, 41, has a growing or, rather, thinning problem: his hair line. http://abcn.ws/VWJy42
? @ShaneGoldmacher Fiscal cliff: 19 days away
@Redistrict In my estimation, if every state awarded Electoral votes by Congressional district (a la ME & NE), Romney would have won, 276-262.
? @HotlineReid Ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham has been transferred from a prison in AZ to a halfway house in New Orleans to complete his sentence #HotlineSort
@DomenicoNBC Why is it that senators urge compromise when they LEAVE the Senate? Think Bayh, Lugar, Lieberman, etc etc. Not that DeMint did that, however
@ZekeJMiller Not quite CW, but NBC-WSJ poll finds 56% of Americans would blame both sides if there's no fiscal cliff deal.