February 15, 2013
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SmartBrief on Business and Politics

National Pulse
Senate Democrats push $110B plan to avoid "sequester" cuts
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Democratic senators are pushing a new $110 billion plan to avoid the automatic spending cuts due to take effect March 1 -- but the plan includes $55 billion in new tax revenues that Republicans have already sworn to oppose. With GOP leaders pledging not to get drawn into last-ditch efforts to broker a compromise, lawmakers on both sides said that there was virtually no chance to avoid the spending cuts. "Read my lips: I am not interested in an eleventh-hour negotiation," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters. The Hill/On the Money blog (2/15), Bloomberg (2/15)
Other News
Reader Polls
This week's poll results: Drone on!
SmartBrief readers love the CIA's drone program, judging from the results of this week's poll. A solid three-fourths of those responding answered that the program should be expanded or continued at current levels. Only 17% said they thought the program should be reduced or terminated. Of those who shared their thoughts on the issue, a number said they'd draw the line at using drones for spying or attacking U.S. citizens on American soil. Others suggested moving the program away from the CIA and into the Defense Department. Still other readers questioned the morality of the program and asked how Americans would react to another country conducting such a program within our borders. Next week: Presidents
The CIA's drone program should be expanded  41.94%
The CIA's drone program should be continued at present levels  33.30%
The CIA's drone program should be reduced  11.16%
The CIA's drone program should be terminated  6.02%
None of the above/other  4.36%
Neutral/no opinion  3.23%
Agenda Items
Republican filibuster delays Hagel confirmation
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Republicans mounted an unprecedented filibuster Thursday to stall the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as secretary of Defense, in a move that critics said would likely delay but not derail Hagel's installation at the Pentagon. The move is based partly on opposition to Hagel, but also largely on Republican senators' attempts to get more information from the White House on last year's terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Time.com/Swampland blog (2/15), Politico (Washington, D.C.) (2/15), National Journal (2/15)
Data Points
Report: SMBs fear red tape more than weak sales
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Since 2008, small-business leaders have named weak sales as their top concern -- but that changed in 2012, when they grew more fearful of federal red tape, according to data from the National Federation of Independent Business. That was likely due to confusion over the impact of health care reforms, writes Catherine Rampell. "[M]any employers who will probably not even be directly affected are still freaking out," she writes. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Economix blog (2/14)
The Conversation
Daily Chuckle
Relive the SOTU address with this drinking game
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It's not too late to play Ken Layne's State of the Union drinking game, provided you remembered to DVR the president's big speech. Still, be sure to read the whole article before cracking open a cold one. "We were just kidding about drinking every time you see the American Flag," Layne belatedly warns at one point. "You'd be dead before Obama ever got to the part about putting GPS chips in our nation's children." The Awl (2/12)
The law will never make a man free; it is men who have got to make the law free."
-- Henry David Thoreau, American author and poet
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