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Count maintained by David Wasserman @Redistrict

James P. Hoffa:

Working families are taking to the streets, the shopping malls and to Lansing to protest the attempt to enact a law that conveys no rights and provides no work.

The past few days of action are only the opening salvo in Michigan's civil war. It is a fight between billionaires who want to turn the Midwest into Canada's Mexico and working people trying to save Michigan's middle class.

EJ Dionne:
But the most disturbing aspect of the Michigan power grab is what it says about where the conservative argument may go. Those willing to expand the appeal of conservatism by refreshing it will face opposition from those who would try to make new thinking unnecessary. They’d simply rig the rules to chip away at the political capacity of groups that don’t buy into conservative orthodoxy.

A movement dedicated to markets should have more confidence in democracy’s free market of ideas and stop trying to distort it.

Dana Milbank:
Lieberman was excommunicated by his party (he won as an independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary) and retired this year rather than face probable defeat. Yet he received little love from the Republicans, either, because despite his apostasies on key issues — the Iraq war, above all — he remained a fairly reliable vote for the Democrats.

The sparse attendance wasn’t unusual for a farewell speech, but it was a sad send-off for a man who was very close in 2000 to becoming the first Jew on a major party’s national ticket. He was denied the vice presidency not by the voters but by the Supreme Court. As he joked in his farewell speech, he was “grateful to have received a half-million more votes than my opponent on the other side — but that’s a longer story.”

Some Republicans, sensing they have a losing hand in the fiscal talks, are increasingly signaling they would be open to folding now on taxes in order to renew their demands next year, when Obama requests an increase in the national borrowing limit, which stands at $16.4 trillion.

“I believe we’re going to pass the $250,000 and below sooner or later, and we really don’t have much leverage there because those rates go up by operation of law Dec. 31,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the incoming No. 2 in his conference leadership. “I would focus on the areas where we do have more leverage.”

If enough Republicans begin to sound like Cornyn, Obama would almost certainly get his wish: Congress would approve an extension of the Bush-era tax rates for families with annual salaries less than $250,000, and a tax hike from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for income above that amount. And Republicans would live to fight another day: demanding spending cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security when Obama formally requests an increase to the national borrowing limit to avoid a debt default.

Obama to Republicans: "Okay, so wanna play hardball? I've got the ball and the bat."

Matt Miller:

Mr. President, it’s unbecoming for a columnist to beg, but since you’ve ruled out “going constitutional” on the debt limit, and CEOs won’t flex enough muscle to stop Republicans from using it for blackmail again, I’m down on my knees.  You simply have to enlist the press to generate a roar of protest against GOP hypocrisy and recklessness here — or else doom us to lurching painfully (and pathetically) from “fiscal cliff” to “debt cliff” for months.

The good news is this can be done with an investment of a mere five minutes of your time. So here’s a plan...

The way to do this is to propose (in a bipartisan spirit, if you’re feeling sly) that the debt limit be raised just by the amount it would take to accommodate the debt Republicans voted for in Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget last year — $6 trillion over the next decade.

Peter Fenn:
It has always seemed to me that there are three professions that are hauntingly alike: actors, preachers and politicians.

They all demand a healthy ego, a flare for the dramatic and a great deal of showmanship. They all involve appearing before large audiences, the ability to project voice and visual, and they all attempt to move people.

So when I see Speaker Boehner throw up his hands and emote over the fiscal cliff I can't help but think of someone who is a pretty good actor, with a touch of the preacher in him. Not that we don't see that with our commander in chief on the Democratic side, but in this back and forth on the fiscal cliff, Speaker Boehner seems particularly adept at combining those three professions.

Mitt Romney may have lost the election, but he did win something Wednesday: Politifact’s annual Lie of the Year...uh…award.

Mitt took home the hardware for his statement that Barack Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs, say the nonpartisan factcheckers at Politifact.

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