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Congress: Close to a deal?

“Aides to President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner say they're talking about a debt deal — they just want the other guy to be a little more specific,” USA Today reports. “Obama's team called on Boehner and other Republicans Monday to be more precise about higher taxes on wealthy Americans; Boehner's office said they await more details from the president on spending cuts.”

Politico: “The Oklahoma senator and obstetrician known as ‘Dr. No’ has taken on the most unlikely of roles: getting Republicans to say ‘yes’ to tax hikes. Tom Coburn, who has blocked dozens of bills, infuriated Democratic leaders and been on the lopsided end of some 96-3 votes, has been encouraging fellow Republicans both publicly and behind the scenes to break with the anti-tax orthodoxy that has come to define — some say hamstring — the modern GOP.”

Said Coburn: “I’m for raising revenue because we have to — it’s not because we should but because we have to.” Coburn called tax hikes “inevitable.” “It’s still going to happen. That’s what the law is.”

National Journal: “In the negotiations to avoid a year-end fiscal crisis, Republicans may be playing with fire. The GOP's biggest piece of leverage—whether to increase the limit on how much money the nation can borrow—is also one fraught with political and economic risk, experts and analysts say. If they don’t tread carefully, Republicans risk alienating allies on Wall Street or, worse, hurting the nation's credit rating and economy.”

Christmas may not be the end date… “If they miss Christmas, negotiators then have to aim for Jan. 1 -- the start of the year of the ‘fiscal cliff,’ a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that kick in if the parties are unable to reach a debt reduction deal,” USA Today writes. “If negotiators fail -- if they go over the cliff -- then they face yet another key date: Jan. 3, the day a new Congress is sworn in, and most of the process starts all over again.”

Immigration is the next battle. Politico outlines five Republicans to watch on the issue – Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador (Puerto Rico native who practiced immigration law), Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (has teamed up with Rep. Gutierrez in the past), Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, and Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte (incoming chairman of Judiciary).

Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is the only member of Congress that still wants “lunatic” on the books.