Morning Briefing: January 10, 2012

Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, two New Hampshire communities that traditionally vote at midnight on election day, cast the first votes of the primary early Tuesday. Out of just nine midnight votes cast in Dixville Notch and 13 cast at Hart’s Location, Mitt Romney leads the field with seven votes, Ron Paul has five, Jon Huntsman received four, and Newt Gingrich has two. President Obama received three votes at Dixville Notch.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes that while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) may have claimed that he was worried about getting a pink slip, the truth is that he had a “golden parachute” built into the terms of his employment at Bain Capital. Romney was even promised that he’d get his old job back if his role as a Bain executive was unsuccessful.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that Citizens United does not allow foreigners to influence elections through spending. Without comment, the court summarily upheld a lower court’s ruling that foreign citizens can be excluded from certain civic and political activities. Campaign finance reform advocates are applauding the decision for keeping corporate money from improperly influencing elections.

Yesterday, Mitt Romney desperately tried to contain the damage after saying that he enjoyed “firing people.” Romney insisted his remarks were “taken out of context” and that he was speaking about the importance of being able to choose insurance companies.

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein speculates this morning that if President Obama promoted mortgage refinancing, he could win big with voters. Having a director of the Federal Housing Finance Authority who would push for better mortgage refinancing rules would boost the economy and help homeowners at the same time, Klein argues. “The combination of easier rules and vastly better publicity would lead many millions of Americans to refinance their loans,” he writes.

The Wall Street Journal notes today that many U.S. businesses — including large publicly traded corporations — are completely avoiding paying corporate income taxes by re-organizing their structures. Many companies are organizing themselves as “pass-throughs,” under which the company itself is not taxed but rather taxation is passed on to individuals who work within the company.

Newt Gingrich canceled an appearance at his campaign headquarters in New Hampshire yesterday when “a loud crowd of protesters” supporting other candidates “amassed on the sidewalk.” Gingrich’s security team determined that the front and back entrances were too “unsafe” for him and his wife to enter but failed to describe what the perceived threat was.

And finally: Wanna look as fashionably hip as the winner of the Iowa caucus? For a $100 campaign donation, you can own one of Rick Santorum’s now-famous sweater vests, or as he calls it, the “Second Amendment vest” because it offers you the “right to bare arms.”

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