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It's the Economy

The busiest week in several is ahead for the markets, CNBC's Patti Domm
notes.  Leaving the lull of Thanksgiving week, investors will focus on
a big batch of important economic data that will show how the consumer
and the economy are faring.  Retailers' sales, housing data, a second
look at third-quarter GDP data, and monthly auto sales top the list. 
The Wall Street Journal says "U.S. auto sales are slowing and an
increasing number of forecasts say sales could fall next year to their lowest
level in nearly a decade." 

Reviewing the Democratic agenda for the middle class, the Hartford
says disagreement between Democrats and conservatives "over the
state of the middle class is one that, along with U.S. policies toward
Iraq, is destined to dominate congressional debate when members return
next month and continue well into next year." 

The San Francisco Chronicle examines the dilemma that Democrats face
with the alternative minimum tax, which could cost up to a trillion
dollars to fix permanently.   Pelosi âĨŖhas promised within the first 100
hours of her leadership to impose a pay-as-you-go spending rule, which
requires that any new tax cuts or spending increases be offset by
spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere.  But if Democrats impose the pay-go
rule, they cannot fix the alternative minimum tax without gutting
existing spending programs -- much less creating new ones -- or sharply
raising other taxes.âĨŗ 

Looks like incoming New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) isn't giving up his
main platform.  Spitzer is slamming Bush Administration proposals "to
roll back corporate accountability reforms imposed in the wake of
financial scandals such as Enron...  Last week, Hank Paulson, US Treasury
secretary, gave a closely watched speech calling for a fundamental
re-examination of the way the US regulates its capital markets to ensure they
remain globally competitive."