Washington Daybook: DeMint Sees Obama Win

Photograph by Pete Marovich/Zuma Press

Sen. Jim DeMint at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington.

President Barack Obama may be gaining the upper hand in negotiations with Republicans over avoiding the fiscal cliff.

Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, said this morning that a “political trophy” is within Obama’s grasp.

“He’s going to get his wish. I believe we’re going to be raising taxes and not just on the top earners,” DeMint, who is stepping down from the Senate to become president of the Heritage Institution, said on “CBS This Morning,” according to the Associated Press.

A majority of Americans say Obama is right to demand tax-rate increases for highest earners as precondition for budget deal that cuts entitlement programs, a Bloomberg National Poll out today shows.

Still, an agreement is not close. White House and congressional officials warned staffs that they may be spending the holidays at their desks as both sides publicly refused to budge from their positions on taxes and spending.

Also today in the fiscal cliff: David Axelrod, former senior adviser to Obama; Rep. Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican; and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, speak at the Newseum at a National Journal event on the economy and the budget.

On Capitol Hill, a conference on defense authorization may get to convene. The House is scheduled to vote today on going to conference and then name conferees after the Senate fixed technical problems in bill. The House also takes up three measures dealing with Government Accountability Office audits and improper payments by federal programs. The Senate could hold several votes today on a measure that would extend Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Transaction Account Guarantee Program. Republicans may raise a budget point of order against the bill.

The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing to examine the effects the Volcker Rule will have on businesses seeking access to capital markets. A House Energy and Commerce panel holds a hearing on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And the House Judiciary Committee marks up H.Res.819, directing the attorney general to hand over any documents relating to targeted killing of U.S. citizens and targets abroad.

Also today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack briefs media on efforts to mitigate drought, including programs to provide more water for livestock and irrigation, and efforts to improve weather forecasts. An FDIC advisory panel meets on survey of banks’ efforts to serve the under-banked, current household savings trends and mobile financial services. And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, joins Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, in holding a  news conference marking the day the CALM Act takes effect. The law requires broadcast, cable and satellite companies to ensure that commercials are broadcast at the same volume as programming around them.

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