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Morning Roundup: Crystal ball time

Most of today is going to be dedicated to political predictions for 2011. One from us is that the president probably pushes for tax code reform. (Watch Mark Murray and I discuss predictions for 2011 in one of our recent Inside the Boiler Rooms and in my latest Week Ahead/Year Ahead.) This morning, I took a look back at historical unemployment rates and presidencies. No president has been reelected w unemployment this high. But for a road map for reelection, look at 1982/1983, when unemployment was a full point higher than today at 10.8% a half-century high. But by Dec. 1983, which would line up with 2011, unemployment dropped two-and-a-half points.

Some other items today:

The New York Times takes a look back at some of the top 10 moments of the year politically. No. 1 for its readers was the passage of health-care reform. (Look for a quick First Read look back at 2010 today, with a list of some of the big events with a live poll for you to be able to vote.)

The Washington Post notes that, medical ethicists are "concerned" about Haley Barbour's release of both Mississippi sisters being contingent on one sister donating a kidney to the other "even if the donation is voluntary." "If the sister belongs in prison, then she should be allowed to donate and return to prison, and if she doesn't belong in prison, then she should have her sentence commuted whether or not she is a donor," Michael Shapiro, chief of organ transplantation at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey and chair of the United Network for Organ Sharing's ethics committee, told the Post.

Republicans are upset over the president's recess appointments.

The Times also looks at how EPA regulations which kick in Sunday could impact both the White House and Republicans.

Lanny Davis is in some hot water. The Times says he withdrew from his get this $100,000 a month contract (!!!) with Ivory Coast. The Times says he's been labeled "a kind of front man for the dark side."

Lisa Murkowski was finally certified yesterday, and we'll hear what Joe Miller decides to do today at around 6 ET.

And, Maine is asking for an exemption to a rule in the health care law that "insurers must devote at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect to medical claims or other activities that improve customers' health - leaving no more than 20 percent for the insurer's administrative costs or profits," the Washington Post notes. "Companies that do not spend enough on the right purposes will have to refund the difference to their customers in 2012."

The Post notes that even though concerns have been expressed by a dozen states, "Maine is the only state to have asked the Obama administration for an exemption."