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High-pressure Senate sales job

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Buzz Cut:
• High-pressure Senate sales job
• Back to you, Sen. Cruz
• Way worse than glitches
• McAuliffe didn’t disclose scam investment
• Let’s Move! Shutdown squirrels snack on Michelle O’s garden

HIGH PRESSURE SENATE SALES JOB - Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell will today be rolling out their compromise plan for fully funding the government and lifting the federal borrowing cap. The best thing that can probably be said for the plan is that no one will particularly like it. With a deadline on lifting the debt limit looming at the end of the week, Democratic leader Reid and Republican leader McConnell are working hard to lower expectations. The spin: Punting is the patriotic thing to do. But the details of the plan and the willingness of conservative and liberal hardliners to walk away from the high-stakes shutdown empty-handed will both matter a great deal. A status-quo extension, though, looks appealing to many on Capitol Hill as markets watch nervously. Read more details on the negotiations.

[WaPo looks at how a bipartisan group of 12 Senate moderates may hold the key to compromise during budget negotiations.]

The plan - Fox News has learned that the emerging framework would raise the debt ceiling through February and include a spending bill meant to last through Jan. 15. But it’s the little things that make or break big deals. The Hill reports that unions may get an ObamaCare exemption and it is widely said that a provision beefing up anti-fraud measures in the health law is still alive. House members tell Fox News they are adamant about ending an ObamaCare exemption for members of Congress and their staffs, predicting “a huge fight” if McConnell caves. But the big idea – a three-month kick of the can – will have lots of fans as Americans grow increasingly nauseated by Washington’s crisis addiction.

[A new ABC News/WaPo poll finds simmering outrage over the ongoing budget battle, with 74 percent of respondents disapproving of the way of Republicans are handling budget negotiations, up from 70 percent on Oct. 6. Sixty-one percent disapproved of Democrats, unchanged from last week. Fifty-three percent disapprove of President Obama, up 2 points from the start of the crisis.] 

Boehner’s narrow path - If House Speaker John Boehner can keep his conference together now, he would be in much better shape for the next round of negotiations. The proposed deal would expire just ahead of the imposition of the next round of automatic spending caps, known in Washington as “sequestration.”  Democrats hate sequestration and want to roll back the caps and hike spending, giving Boehner leverage. But as the speaker has said about ifs, buts, candy and nuts, there’s no guarantee that Boehner will have a lovely Christmas. In fact, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, may yet be able to scuttle either Boehner’s speakership or the House leader’s hopes for a long-term deal on debt, entitlements, taxes and spending.

[Cruz’s caucus? - Roll Call reports that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, held a hush-hush huddle with House members in the basement of Republican Hill hangout Tortilla Coast, including Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Steve King, R-Iowa, Jim Jordan R-Ohio, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, Steve Southerland , R- Fla., Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Justin Amash, R-Mich.]

Back to you, Senator Cruz - An unidentified member who attended the ‘Cruz Caucus’ meeting told Fox News’ Senior Capitol Hill Producer Chad Pergram that there was “no filibuster in sight” to block the Senate deal. But that could change very quickly. Cruz became a national figure with his marathon speech that kicked off the shutdown drama. He wants the partial shutdown to remain in place, a short punt on the debt limit and continued negotiations over his call to defund President Obama’s 2010 health law. With time running out, Senate rules will likely require unanimous agreement among all members to move emergency legislation. That puts Cruz and his comrade, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, in powerful but high-risk positions. Would they be willing to hold out as markets crash all in the name of forcing Boehner into more ObamaCare brinksmanship?

Will: Let sequester fester - George Will: “Those House Republicans who dislike the Obama administration but detest Senate Republicans should understand how the moderate [Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine] forced Democrats to drop their mask of moderation. And all House Republicans should understand that the victory won in the summer of 2011 - the sequester, achieved by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell - still torments Democrats.

More vets protest today - The Military Coalition, representing more than 5.5 million members, is joining other veterans organizations at the World War II Memorial  this morning  demanding  an end to the government shutdown, saying that it has been “devastating for the nation's military readiness and for the veterans, service members, families and survivors in the uniformed services community,” with many veterans unsure of when their next benefit check will come and heightened concerned over the Veteran Administration’s disability claim backlog. Correspondent Doug McKelway has the latest on the demonstration and will speak with veterans hit hardest by the shutdown.

Unions to score ObamaCare win in budget deal? - Labor unions could get a one-year reprieve from an ObamaCare tax under the bipartisan budget deal that is emerging in the senate,.

[“We saw this thing coming for months and everybody plays brinksmanship…I can tell you from the people I speak to out in the country – they’re tired of it…they’re tired of both parties and no one’s going to come out of this unscathed in Washington. Nor should they.”—Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren]  

WAY WORSE THAN GLITCHES - As technical problems continue to mount for ObamaCare’s Web site, those who are able to navigate the problem-plagued online hub are finding, “the so-called ‘deals; the system is coughing up around the country include $12,600 deductibles, co-pays of up to 40 percent, zero competition, and rate hikes of 260 percent,” Washington Examiner reports. Chief National Correspondent Jim Angle considers what is contributing to ObamaCare’s high premiums.

[“When they get it fixed, I hope they fire some people that were in charge of making sure that this thing was supposed to work… This was bungled badly. This was not a server problem… I think it is…excruciatingly embarrassing.”– Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on MSNBC.]

Flashback: Obama praised company behind ObamaCare website - Daily Caller: “During a Sept. 9, 2008 speech to a crowd in Lebanon, Va., then-presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama praised CGI Federal’s ability to create new jobs for Americans as the result of investment in broadband Internet infrastructure.” As Washington Examiner reported Sunday, CGI was the only bid the government reviewed to build the health-exchange website. Correspondent Peter Doocy is tracking how severe the glitches are, who is to blame, and ultimately how much it will cost tax-payers.

Political insurance policy? - The ObamaCare Web site also asks applicants if they want to register to vote, raising questions about why the Obama administration would further complicate an already crash-prone website.

YOUR VOICE WAS HEARD - Columnist George Will’s prediction that Republicans would come out of negotiations over the shutdown and debt limit “very well,” found strong agreement from men, women, Democrats, Republicans and independents. Bing Pulse also measured wide disagreement from all parties when Charles Krauthammer advocated that House Republicans pass a clean continuing resolution now and negotiate a broad budget deal like the plan being pushed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., later. The Daily Beast’s Kirsten Power’s charge that House Republicans should pass a debt deal unless they wanted to “blow up the party,” was met with strong disagreement from men and women alike.

Viewer engagement peaked at 29,000 votes per minute during Monday’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” All-Star Panel, in response to Sen. Rand Paul’s, R-Ky., claim that Democrats wanted to exceed sequester spending caps. Bing Pulse measured 213,000 viewer votes during last night’s panel. The most important voice is yours, make sure it is heard. Monday’s full results are available here.  

The issue of the Washington Redskins’ name drew lively discussion and viewer response. Will found agreement across party lines when he said the most important factor in the debate was whether or not a substantial portion of the Native American community is offended by the name. Will also struck a chord when he said, “the sensitivity police ought to mind their own business,” with viewer votes spiking to 26,000 per minute. George Will isn’t the only All-Star on the panel. There is always room for you!

NSA HARVESTS AMERICANS’ EMAIL CONTACTS - Documents provided by leaker Edward Snowden and obtained by WaPo reveal the NSA harvests contacts from the e-mails and instant messaging accounts of Americans and foreigners alike.“During a single day last year, the NSA’s Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail…” In a statement, the NSA maintains it is not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans and is acting lawfully.

BAIER TRACKS: A BAD ENDING IN AFGHANISTAN…“Amid the back and forth on the government shutdown and debt ceiling deal in the making, Afghanistan appears to be falling apart. Much like in Iraq, the diplomacy about a status of forces agreement – a deal to have U.S. forces at some level in the country after the end of next year – is also falling apart. As the Wall Street Journal reports, that means if the impasse is not resolved by the end of this month, all U.S. troops will be out at the end of 2014. While many people may really want that outcome, it is tough to watch the U.S. war effort devolve so quickly after all the blood and treasure Americans have spent there. I have been there 12 times, and the caucus of people throwing up their hands and saying, ‘oh well’ is increasing every day.” – Bret Baier

CAPTURED AL-QAEDA LEADER TO APPEAR IN COURT - Abu Anas al-Libi, the alleged senior al-Qaeda figure, captured in Libya earlier this month by U.S. Special Forces, is expected to appear in a New York courtroom today. The al-Qaeda leader is charged in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left more than 220 civilians dead. Correspondent David Lee Miller is following the latest developments in the case.

HIGH COURT REVISISTS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION - The Supreme Court will revisit affirmative action as it hears arguments in a case challenging an amendment to Michigan’s constitution passed by 58 percent of voters, barring race-based preferences in public education, employment, and contracting. The amendment was struck down by a circuit court last November. Michigan’s Republican Attorney General Bill Shuette told Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File” that he was confident the Supreme Court would uphold the law. “The only thing we are discriminating against in Michigan is discrimination itself,” he said. Correspondent Shannon Bream has the latest from the high court. More.

[WSJ: “[T]he failure to overturn the Sixth Circuit would enshrine in the law the concept that American voters can't choose to outlaw discrimination on the basis of race. Lincoln and Frederick Douglass would turn in their graves, if they didn't leap right out of them.]

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...WSJ columnist Bret Stephens considers America’s intellectual greatness in terms of its number of Nobel laureates compared to other nations in Nobels and National Greatness: “…a better metric for greatness is the ability of nations to produce, cultivate, attract and retain intellectual greatness…anyone who thinks America's best days are behind us should take a close look at the latest Nobel haul. It says something that we take it for granted.” 

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POLL CHECK -Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.2  percent//Disapprove – 50.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 18.4 percent//Wrong Track – 73.9 percent 

MCAULIFFE DIDN’T DISCLOSE INVESTMENT WITH SCAM ARTIST - Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s campaign is acknowledging he did not publicly disclose his investment with Joseph Caramadre, the Rhode Island man who pleaded guilty to scamming terminally ill people in an insurance swindle. McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin told the WaPo that McAuliffe was following the advice of his accountants and lawyers when he opted not to reveal the investment. This, as the GOP of Virginia is calling on the State Board of Elections to investigate his failure to fully disclose the investment. McAuliffe’s campaign maintains that he was an unwitting victim of the fraud.

Hill and Bill shill for McAuliffe - Ahead of a scheduled campaign appearance by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this weekend, former President Bill Clinton is pleading with President Obama’s grassroots backers to help out Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. In an email to supporters of Obama’s permanent campaign operation, Organizing for Action, Bubba urged the Obamanauts to deploy for McAuliffe, the Clinton family’s loyal retainer and top fundraiser. The former president hammered Republican Ken Cuccinelli for his opposition to ObamaCare, calling Cuccinelli, “really out there.”  

Independents divided in N.J. Senate race - A Quinnipiac poll released this morning shows Newark Democratic Mayor Corey Booker leading Republican challenger Steve Lonegan 54 percent to 40 percent, however independents are evenly split at 46 percent. The Garden State’s special Senate election is Wednesday.  

THE POOR HORSE! -America’s portliest president, William Howard Taft, in office from 1909 - 1913, used modern-sounding weight loss techniques in his struggle to control his waistline. According to the NYT, Taft, who at just under six-feet tall weighed in at 340 pounds toward the end of his presidency, “went on a low-fat, low-calorie diet. He avoided snacks. He kept a careful diary of what he ate and weighed himself daily. He hired a personal trainer and rode a horse for exercise.”

LET’S MOVE! SQUIRRELS FEAST ON FIRST LADY’S GARDEN - Since the National Park Service is no longer providing the full number of staffers for first lady Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden, the squirrels are apparently running riot. The NY Post reports squirrels have been living “high on the hog” feasting on tomatoes and other vegetables while some of her official gardeners are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown.

THE ONE WHO STAYED BEHIND - Former U.S. Army Capt. William Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor from President Obama today for exceptional gallantry in the Sept. 9, 2009 Battle of Ganjal in Afghanistan. Swenson’s unit was ambushed and as Stars and Stripes put it, “[Swensen] went into gunfire again and again during the six-hour battle to evacuate the wounded and recover the dead. As the battle raged on, Swenson’s repeated calls for support went unanswered.” Lawmakers, including Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said the delay in Swensen receiving the decoration was due to the officer’s public criticism of the high command’s response. You can watch two battlefield videos of Swensen taking comrades to safety and then remaining in the fight. 

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“[Republicans] are giving away the major achievement of this Congress… the sequester, which the Congressional Research Service says is the most successful and largest cutting since the early ‘50s… What the Republicans ought to do right now is to extend the debt ceiling for six weeks, clean, exactly as Obama wants, this is what the House should do, and give a clean C.R. for a year…That's your only leverage that you are going to have for anything.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret BaierWatch Here

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here. To catch Chris live online daily at 11:30 a.m. ET, click here

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.