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December 31, 2012
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National Pulse 
  • McConnell and Biden lead last-ditch effort to beat fiscal deadline
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    Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pulled a late-nighter Sunday and resumed talks early this morning in a bid to strike a deal to avert higher tax rates and sweeping spending cuts due to take effect at midnight. In a significant breakthrough, the pair have agreed to preserve existing tax rates on family income of less than $450,000, and also to keep estate taxes at their current levels. "I think now there's a better than 50-50 chance that we will avoid the fiscal cliff by midnight tonight," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. Politico (Washington, D.C.) (12/31) , The Washington Post (12/31) , The Wall Street Journal (12/31) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Reader Polls 
  • This week's poll: Top news of 2012
    As we prepare to welcome 2013, it's time to take a moment and look back at what shaped our world over the past 12 months. This week's question: What do you consider to be the most important news event of 2012? Likely candidates are listed below, but if you select "None of the above/Other" and care to share your recommendation with our readers, you can send it to us using this link. Make sure you select "Content Feedback" as your category. We will include readers' recommendations with the results on Friday, space permitting.
Unrest in the Arab world, wars in Syria and Gaza, the terrorist raid in Benghazi
Mass shootings in Connecticut, Oregon, Colorado and Wisconsin
"Fiscal cliff" negotiations and the federal debt
The presidential election, primaries and debates
The state of the U.S. economy
Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act
More states approve same-sex marriage
Superstorm Sandy
Colorado, Washington legalize recreational marijuana
None of the above/other

Agenda Items 
  • 4 big stories to watch for in 2013
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    There are no national elections in 2013, but there will still be plenty of ways for political junkies to get their fix, writes Beth Reinhard. Looming debates over immigration reform and gun control promise to provide plenty of thrills, and there will also be key statewide elections in New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Virginia, along with important mayoral races in New York and Los Angeles. National Journal (12/31) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Data Points 
  • Where do the most charitable Americans live?
    Click on image to learn more about charitable giving in the U.S.
    As the year ends, many people make their annual contributions to their favorite charities. The average American donates $298 in cash each year to charities, according to Esri, the world's leader in geographic information systems. Types of charities include animal welfare, disease cures and post-disaster assistance. Educational charities receive $100, on average, from Americans who donate. Religious charities benefit the most, receiving $915 annually, on average. What types of Americans are most likely to contribute to each charity type? Who are these Americans, and where do they live? SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Finance (12/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

The Conversation 
Daily Chuckle 
  • Best of 2012: Leno sizes up final presidential debate
    Jay Leno says he found himself among the undecideds Monday night, but in Tuesday night's monologue, he decided to lampoon President Barack Obama, Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the moderator, the media and even Lance Armstrong. (10/24) 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 
  • Reminder: New Year holiday
    SmartBrief on Business and Politics will not publish Tuesday. Publication will resume Wednesday. Happy New Year! LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne."
----Robert Burns, Scottish poet
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