Morning Briefing: December 8, 2011

President Obama will forego his vacation in Hawaii “to stay in town until Congress finishes work on the payroll tax holiday” and extension of unemployment benefits. He told Democratic leaders, “Michelle and the girls are going to have a great time in Hawaii, they don’t need me there.”

After Republicans blocked previous plans to extend the tax holiday, some Republicans are floating an income tax credit as an alternative to an actual tax cut. The proposal, which would cost between $120 billion and $150 billion, is being pushed by former GOP super committee members Sens. Rob Portman (OH) and Pat Toomey (PA), among others.

In a surprising decision Wednesday, the Health and Human Services Department ordered the Food and Drug Administration to deny an application to make the morning-after pill available over the counter without a prescription to women of all ages. The Hill reports that some advocates were left “speechless” by the decision, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) said Sebelius should have stayed out of it.

New census data shows that the income gap between blacks and whites has grown in cities across the nation. In the nation’s capital, the per capita income for whites is now three times what it is for blacks.

Today, the White House will release a new strategy to battle homegrown terrorism by teaching local officials to recognize violent extremism and see the threat as a public safety issue. Entitled “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States,” the plan empowers schools that have “never participated” in national security to fight extremism “in the same way they fight gangs, or bullying.”

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of instigating nationwide protests over parliamentary elections that Clinton criticized as “dishonest and unfair.” Election observers have also criticized Russia, but protesters “heard the signal” from Clinton “and with the support of the U.S. State Department began active work,” Putin said.

Congressional negotiators are close to a year-end spending deal that would keep the government running past Dec. 16, but “the next 48 hours will be make or break” since appropriators must have a bill by Friday to remain on schedule. Controversial policy riders pushed by GOP leadership could still derail the deal.

GOP presidential candidate and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer says he could not support Newt Gingrich as the GOP nominee. Roemer takes exception to Gingrich’s views on campaign finance reform, which is Roemer’s pet issue.

And finally: Newt Gingrich is only GOP candidate so far who has signed up for Donald Trump’s debate, but it’s unclear if the room will be largest enough to fit both of their heads. Appearing on CNN last night, the real estate mogul said of his competition, “I know a lot of the moderators and some are wonderful, and some aren’t, but I know the issues better than the moderators.”

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