Morning Briefing: January 6, 2012

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"Morning Briefing: January 6, 2012"

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy created 200,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent. The private sector added 212,000 jobs, while the public sector lost 12,000.

Republican Party officials in Iowa are dismissing reports that the vote counting of Tuesday’s caucus was inaccurate. A voter in Appanoose County claimed that there was a 20-vote discrepancy between the results he wrote down from his caucus and what the Iowa Republican Party reported, which should have given Rick Santorum the victory. Mitt Romney beat Santorum by only eight votes.

Yesterday, a watchdog group claimed that Newt Gingrich’s past work for health care industry clients may have violated lobbying laws. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a complaint against Gingrich and his Center for Health Transformation (CHT) for not registering as lobbyists and for not filing disclosure reports.

The Boston Globe, Mitt Romney’s hometown newspaper endorsed Jon Huntsman for president yesterday. While noting that both Romney and Huntsman are the only “truly presidential” candidates, the editorial board said Romney is “trying to appease enough constituencies to get himself the nomination” while “Huntsman has been bold.”

A year after Republicans — with the help of 87 freshmen — took back their majority in the House, the House GOP is divided and fighting over policy and leadership. Some members question the messaging and strategy while they face issues like the yearlong payroll tax extension that Congress will take up.

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that House Tea Party Caucus members are much wealthier than non-Tea Party House Republicans. Their net worth is 130 percent higher, with an average net worth of $1.8 million in 2010.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) will attend a vigil Sunday in honor of the victims and survivors of last year’s shooting in Tucson, Arizona, which left six dead and Giffords critically injured. She and her husband Mark Kelley will participate in the vigil at the University of Arizona, but her office did not know if she was planning to speak.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray “outlined a vigorous oversight and enforcement agenda” Thursday, warning financial companies that they will face “real consequences” for taking advantage of consumers. Cordray’s agenda included asking consumers to contact the agency with complaints.

The majority of Indiana House Democrats are refusing to go to work, in protest of the House GOP’s attempt to pass a new “right-to-work” law. The Democrats are repeating a tactic which successfully killed off an effort to pass such a law last year.

The amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment increased 16 percent in 2010, according to a report from the EPA. That reverses a downward trend from years before and was driven by metal mining and the chemical industry. Air releases of dioxin, a toxin linked to cancer and other diseases, increased 10 percent.

The IRS audited a higher percentage of millionaires in 2011 than in previous years, increasing from 8.4 percent in 2010 to 12.5 percent in 2011. The IRS said that the higher audit rates occur to “assure that those at the lower end of the spectrum know that those at the higher end of the spectrum are subject to the same rules and enforcement as everyone else.”

And finally: Is Rick Santorum trying to corner the Jonas Brothers vote? The former Pennsylvania senator hired a Christian public relations for $125,000 and one of the firm’s principal is also a senior adviser to Santorum’s campaign. Among that firm’s other clients are Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience.

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