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Congress: Paul Ryan, power broker?

The New York Times looks at Paul Ryan’s role as a power broker during the fiscal cliff negotiations: “Speaker John A. Boehner has tapped Mr. Ryan, who has returned to his post as the House Budget Committee chairman after an unsuccessful run for vice president, to help strike a deal to avoid big tax increases and spending cuts by the end of the year, and to bring along fellow Republicans… The test will be whether Mr. Ryan — who declined last year to sit on another Congressional committee charged with taming the deficit, in large part because doing so might have hurt his prospects for national office — can make the transition from House budget philosopher to governing heavyweight who can help negotiate a bipartisan deal and sell it to his colleagues.”

More: Ryan’s “distaste for Mr. Obama’s fiscal theories was unambiguous. At the Republican convention, for example, he called the Obama administration’s economic vision ‘a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.’ With his new muscle and increased respect from his colleagues, Mr. Ryan could conceivably scuttle any deal if he loudly opposes a solution that the speaker and the top Republican leaders embrace. But his conservative base might rebel against him if he were to endorse any deal seen as awarding too much to Mr. Obama and the Democrats, particularly on tax rates. Some Republicans think the pitfalls are dangerous enough that Mr. Ryan might consider leaving Congress altogether to work on his policy agenda without the inherent headaches of the Hill.”

Even Republicans like Peter King aren’t buying what Gen. David Petraeus is now saying, that the CIA knew from the beginning that it was terrorism in Benghazi. King: “I told him in my questions that I had a very different recollection of that. The clear impression was given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it rose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack.”

“The Pentagon is soaking up most of the attention around the looming budget cuts that would take place at the start of the new year, but there are a host of other national security programs caught up in the fiscal cliff debate, too,” Politico writes. “Sequestration would also mean fewer FBI agents, border patrols, meat inspectors, disease trackers, Secret Service agents, prison guards and National Guardsmen for storms like Hurricane Sandy.”

Political Wire: “Ballot Access News reports that 25 minor party and independent candidates were elected to state legislatures this month.  ‘Checking records of past elections reveals that this is the highest such number since 1942, when there were 31 such candidates elected. In 1944, there were 22 such candidates elected, and at no time since 1944 (until 2012) had there been any election with more than 17.’”

“After a long-awaited recount of early voting ballots in St. Lucie County was completed Sunday, businessman Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, increased his lead over Republican Rep. Allen West and re-declared victory,” Roll Call writes. “West has not conceded the race, which remains uncalled by The Associated Press. But his path to the 113th Congress now looks significantly narrower.”

Roll Call: “Democratic Rep. Ron Barber has defeated Republican Martha McSally in the over-time ballot counting for Arizona’s 2nd District, according to The Associated Press.”