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Morning Briefing: December 2, 2011

According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 120,000 jobs were created last month, bringing the unemployment rate down to 8.6 percent. As has been the case in previous months, relatively strong private sector growth was offset by government sector losses. About 72,000 jobs were also added as revisions to previous months.

Outside groups have already spent more than $35 million to influence the 2012 election, according to an investigation by the Hill. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, affiliated groups co-founded by Karl Rove, have spent $20 million alone. The largest Democratic-affiliated spender has been Priorities USA, at just under $1 million.

Last night, the Senate rejected proposals to extend the payroll tax holiday put forward by both Republicans and Democrats. All but a few Democrats voted for their party’s plan to pay for the extension with a surtax on millionaires, but more Republicans voted against than for their party’s proposal, which would pay for the extension by freezing federal pay.

In a 93 to 7 vote yesterday, the Senate approved a $662 billion defense authorization including a requirement that the military hold some suspected terrorists on U.S. soil “indefinitely without trial,” a measure the White House threatened to veto. The Senate also disregarded the White House’s “strong opposition” to new Iran sanctions and voted to approve them in a 100 to 0 vote.

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The House voted along party lines to end public financing for presidential campaigns. Rep. Gregg Harper’s (R-MS) bill, which all Democrats and one Republican voted against, would transfer the $200 million in the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account to the U.S. Treasury to reduce the deficit.

President Obama and former President Bill Clinton will announce today a $4 billion energy saving program aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of government and private sector buildings “at no cost to taxpayers.” The program aims to upgrade buildings over the next two years, improve energy performance by 20 percent by 2020. It’s funded by energy savings, “thus requiring no up-front federal expenditure.”

Despite efforts by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), it is unlikely that the House will attempt to dismantle the sequester’s defense cuts this year. The cuts were triggered by the super committee’s failure to reach a deal, and Cantor had been pushing to include the rollback as part of a package extending unemployment insurance and payroll tax cuts.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood denied reports that there was an alliance between it and a more conservative Islamist party after early vote tallies showed those two parties with the largest shares. Together, the two factions gained about 65 percent of the vote in Egypt’s first Parliamentary elections since former Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

And finally: Don’t let anyone tell you Mitt Romney is a squeaky clean square, because in a new interview with Parade Magazine, his wife divulges Mitt’s deepest, darkest vice: Chocolate milk — low fat. “Is that it? Come on, say something bad that he likes to eat or drink,” the interviewer asked. “Chocolate milk,” Ann Romney revealed.