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December 24, 2012
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National Pulse 
  • Things are terrible, but change is coming, lawmakers say
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    House lawmakers say that the political climate in Washington has never been worse -- but that they're confident a change for the better is just around the corner. Congress may be an "insane asylum" at present, but representatives from both sides say their constituents expect better things. "This is all coming to a head. ... Things are fundamentally going to be different," says Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Democrat. National Journal/Influence Alley blog (12/24) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Reader Polls 
  • This week's poll: Holiday spending
    The end of the calendar year is a big time for U.S. retailers. Merchants rely on holiday buying to put them in the black for the year, and consumer spending is used as an indicator of the overall health of the economy. This week's question: How does your household's spending this year compare with last year? To be clear, we are looking for discretionary spending on things such as gifts, decorations, entertaining, travel and big-ticket purchases. Replacing a blown water heater or expensive car repairs don't count. If you care to share some of the details of your spending habits this year, such as splurging on a cruise or cutting back on gifts, you can send them to us using this link. Select "Content Feedback" in the category box. We'll post the poll results on Friday.
My household is spending more than last year
My household is spending less than last year
My household is spending about the same as last year

Agenda Items 
  • Business groups are getting nervous as fiscal deadline looms
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    With lawmakers preparing to spend New Year's Eve in Congress in search of a last-minute deficit deal, business groups say they're getting "nervous" over the continuing deadlock. Still, the failure of House Speaker John Boehner's "Plan B" hasn't caused business leaders to abandon hope of a viable deal, says National Retail Federation lobbyist David French. "We're not in a state of panic. ... It was part of the process," he says. The Hill/On the Money blog (12/23) , Roll Call (free content) (12/23) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Data Points 
  • Who is preparing for retirement?
    Learn more:  
    Click on image to enlarge map displaying average annual retirement contribution by ZIP code.
    In the past, many Americans relied on Social Security and company pensions to fund their retirement. Today, Social Security does not pay enough for some people to be comfortable in their retirement, and most companies have eliminated pensions. Therefore, making 401(k) and IRA contributions are critical to people's retirement to ensure that they have enough money once they stop working. The average American contributes $1,325 to retirement accounts per year, but what types of Americans are most likely to contribute? Who contributes to 401(k) accounts? What about IRA accounts? Where do these Americans live? SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Finance (12/24) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

The Conversation 
Daily Chuckle 
  • Best of 2012: He said, he said
    Read full story  
    Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert looks back at the Republican and Democratic national conventions and finds that the two parties have much more in common than one would think. Comedy Central (9/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Hot Topics 

Top five news stories selected by SmartBrief on Business & Politics readers in the past week.

  • Results based on number of times each story was clicked by readers.
Editor's Note 
  • SmartBrief on Business and Politics will not publish Dec. 25
    SmartBrief on Business and Politics will not publish on Christmas Day. Publication will resume Wednesday. Enjoy your holiday. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."
--—Clement Clarke Moore, American poet
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