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Breaking the Cycle - ABC News

By RICK KLEIN ( @rickklein)

If there's a chance - if we can break the fever, end the cycle, or just do enough to come up with any
new metaphor for Washington dysfunction - this is the week it all has to come together.
This is the last week the House and Senate will be in session together, closing out one of the worst
years for actual legislative accomplishments that anyone can recall.
Why the signs of thaw, in icy Washington? Blame the distraction the Obamacare rollout has been, for
providing negotiating space or Nelson Mandela's spirit, for clarifying the stakes or just the fact that
everyone is plain tired of fighting about relatively little and producing even less.
And so the lost year might manage to find something before it comes to a weary end.
But save the good tidings: This is a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.
A budget deal would mean compromise, and no more shutdowns over at least the next year. It would
hardly, though, mark the kind of breakthrough that's replicable or even relevant for Washington's
other big problems. That includes the fiscal and budget disagreements, which this deal doesn't really
even address.
As the president heads to South Africa, and as the world prepares for a funeral with no clear model
in modern history, lawmakers back home will be grinding toward a sweeter-than-normal ending to
the year - though not by much.
'I'M HOPEFUL.' Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he is "hopeful" a short-term budget deal will be
reached to avoid the threat of a potential government shutdown in January. "I'm hopeful that even by
the end of this week we'll be able to come together and achieve that," Portman told ABC's GEORGE
STEPHANOPOULOS on "THIS WEEK" Sunday. "The key is that we not have another government
shutdown, that we do keep the spending caps in place, that we don't raise taxes at a time when the
economy is still weak," added Portman, who is a member of the joint committee negotiating the deal.
"And I think we can accomplish that over the next couple of days." 'RIGHT
DIRECTION.' "Negotiations are making progress, moving in the right direction," said Sen. Dick
Durbin, D-Ill. But Durbin said he hopes members of Congress negotiating a budget will heed the
words of President Obama's address on income inequality Wednesday. "We've got to protect and
preserve the safety net in America and give these working families a fighting chance," Durbin said. LAST CHANCES. "In the final week of 2013 that the Senate and House are
scheduled to be in Washington at the same time, lawmakers and aides are optimistic that
negotiators can reach a budget accord and continue to make progress on a farm bill and other
write. "Late last week, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and House
Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) appeared to be closing in on a modest budget deal
expected to allow spending of roughly $1 trillion in each of the next two years, potentially averting
the threat of a shutdown with weeks to spare before current government funding runs out Jan. 15." LOW STAKES. "The deal expected to be sealed this week on Capitol Hill

would not significantly reduce the debt, now $17.3 trillion and rising. It would not close corporate
tax loopholes or reform expensive health-care and retirement programs. It would not even fully
replace sharp spending cuts known as the sequester, the negotiators' primary target," LORI
MONTGOMERY writes for THE WASHINGTON POST. "After more than two years of constant crisis,
the emerging agreement amounts to little more than a cease-fire. Republicans and Democrats are
abandoning their debt-reduction goals, laying down arms and, for the moment, trying to avoid
another economy-damaging standoff." ROBERT BIXBY, of the Concord
Coalition: "That this can be declared a victory is an indicator of how low the process has sunk.
There's no budgetary or fiscal strategy in the choices they've used, except the strategy of avoiding
making the case for the long-term unemployed: "Republicans have a theory about why this is
happening. Their theory is, as it happens, completely wrong. But they're sticking to it - and as a
result, 1.3 million American workers, many of them in desperate financial straits, are set to lose
unemployment benefits at the end of December. Merry Christmas So the odds, I'm sorry to say, are
that the long-term unemployed will be cut off, thanks to a perfect marriage of callousness - a
complete lack of empathy for the unfortunate - with bad economics. But then, hasn't that been the
story of just about everything lately?" IN THE OTHER CORNER: "I do support
unemployment benefits for the 26 weeks that they're paid for. If you extend it beyond that, you do a
disservice to these workers," SEN. RAND PAUL, R-Ky., said on "Fox News Sunday." SIGNALS. "No news is, well, news, as Congress nears pressing deadlines to
reach a budget deal and pass a farm bill - and there doesn't appear to be an agreement for either
one, at least before Monday," reports ROLL CALL's EMMA DUMAIN. "House GOP aides familiar
with the status of both negotiations say conferees will continue to talk in the days ahead, but there
are no formal scheduled meetings at the moment." DISPATCH FROM THE
WATER'S EDGE. The headline is "London launchpad for Republican," looking at Sen. Marco Rubio's
trip abroad, including an interview with THE SUNDAY TIMES' TOBY HARNDEN. "In an interview
with The Sunday Times last week, Rubio drew pointed contrasts with his potential foes. 'Having
served as Speaker of the house [in Florida], I'm aware of the value of having state experience,' he
said when asked about [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie. "I also think there's some value in having
some federal experience, particularly on issues like foreign policy, which will always matter.' On
Paul, he argued: 'It's foolish to ignore that the global crisis has had an impact on us domestically
from our national security to immigration and everything in between many times, foreign policy is
domestic policy, especially in a global economy.' "
LET'S CLICK TWO : Baseball legend Ernie Banks tells ABC'S JONATHAN KARL about the time he
ran for office in Chicago - and the advice he got from Jackie Robinson. Despite his personal history of
breaking barriers and setting records, Banks admits that there was a time when he was skeptical
that then-Sen. Obama could win the presidential election in 2008. "I was going to tell him well, not
[that he] shouldn't run for president," Banks said, "but it's, you know, [an] amazing challenge,
because I ran for alderman in Chicago, and I saw that." Banks also told "Politics Confidential,"
shortly after being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom," about what Robinson told him when
he reached the majors: "He shook my hand and said, 'Glad to have you here Ernie. Listen and you'll
learn.' Listen," Banks recalled. "And that's all I did. I didn't talk. I just listened to people, the
coaches, the batters, the players."
Don't miss the "THIS WEEK" SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT, from the ABC News archives with Ted Koppel's
historic interview with Nelson Mandela, conducted just four days after his release from prison.

REMEMBERING MANDELA. BILL KELLER, on "This Week": "One of the things that Mandela had
was the joy in the robust give and take of politics The schmoozing, the deal-making, stage-craft, the
theater. In the course of his life, he was a communist for a while, he was a capitalist, he was an
advocate of non-violence, he was an advocate of armed struggle," Keller added. "He was whatever it
took, but he never lost sight of the man goal, which was a South Africa that was run by South
Africans He knew the difference between strategy and tactics."
STAN GREENBERG, who was Mandela's pollster in his presidential run: "He had clear goals. And
one of the things that ran through was the desire to make sure there was racially inclusive politics,"
said Greenberg. "And he wanted to use the election to send a message about this was going to be
inclusive country."
BARACK OBAMA YES, DALAI LAMA NO. "The Dalai Lama will not attend memorial services for
fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela in South Africa, where the Buddhist spiritual
leader has twice been unable to obtain a visa, a spokesman said Monday," per the ASSOCIATED
PRESS. "Tenzin Takhla gave no specific reason for the Dalai Lama missing the memorial service in
Johannesburg and funeral in Mandela's hometown, saying only that 'logistically it's impossible at this
CLUB MEETING. "Tuesday's memorial service will also serve as a rare reunion of nearly all the
living American presidents. George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, will accompany Obama and first
lady Michelle Obama on Air Force One, while former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will
travel separately to South Africa," the AP's JULIE PACE reports. "George H.W. Bush is the only living
president who will not attend. His spokesman said the 89-year-old is no longer able to travel long
BEYOND THE WEBSITE. "The federal health care exchange is incorrectly determining that some
people are eligible for Medicaid when they clearly are not, leaving them with little chance to get the
subsidized insurance they are entitled to as the Dec. 23 deadline for enrollment approaches," USA
GUN NEWS TODAY. Per the AP: "The Senate is ready to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms,
the kind that can pass through metal detectors and X-ray machines unnoticed. But Monday's vote
will be bittersweet for supporters of gun control. It comes days before the anniversary of the deadly
mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six
educators were killed Dec. 14. Congress has approved no new federal curbs on firearms since then although President Barack Obama made it one of his top domestic priorities."
DEFENDING THE IRAN DEAL. "Well, we don't know yet. We don't know yet," President Obama said
over the weekend at the Brookings Institute's Saban Forum, per ABC's MATTHEW LAROTONDA. "I
think it's important for everybody to understand: This is hard, because the technology of the nuclear
cycle you can get off the Internet. The knowledge of creating a nuclear weapon is already out there."
2013 CAN'T END UNTIL. "A three-judge recount court is scheduled to convene for the first time in
the nearly deadlocked race for Virginia attorney general," per THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT. "The court is
set to meet in Richmond on Monday to act on motions filed by Democrat Mark Herring and
Republican Mark Obenshain, who trails in the race by 165 votes. The judges are also expected to
establish the ground rules for the recount."


"Ideas abound for breaking logjam, but D.C. isn't listening," by THE BOSTON GLOBE's MICHAEL
KRANISH. "What became striking in this review was not how little can be done, but how many
intriguing options exist. Amid the diversity of ideas there is, however, one common thread: almost
complete indifference in Washington, the world's capital of gridlock, even when alternative, perhaps
better, ways are already at work, some in plain sight."
"State of Deception: Why won't the President rein in the intelligence community?" by THE NEW
"Was Hillary Clinton a good secretary of state?" by SUSAN B. GLASSER in POLITICO MAGAZINE.
"Three Senators Try to Hold off GOP in South," by THE NEW YORK TIMES' CAMPBELL
ROBERTSON and JEREMY W. PETERS. "All three are up for re-election next year. And the outcome
of their races could determine whether the Southern Democrat, once a formidable species in the
Senate, is headed for extinction."
AMERICAN BRIDGE PROJECT, out with a 30-page report: "GOP Budget Blues: How Conservative
Policies Increase Inequality." Bridge Project Vice President Eddie Vale: "As we get down to crunch
time in the budget negotiations on the Hill, this report makes it clear that Americans need any deal
to include economic policies that help the middle class, rather than the extreme Tea Party proposals
to slash the budget at the expense of working families."
PUBLIC NOTICE, out with a new poll on voters' spending and budget priorities. Gretchen Hamel,
Public Notice's executive director: "Washington has lost credibility when it comes to being
responsible stewards of our tax dollars and Americans have had enough. Every several months
lawmakers bring us to the brink of crisis and the only answer always seems to be more money for
more spending. Americans are paying attention, they understand the risk and they are prepared to
hold Washington accountable."
WHAT HE'S HAVING. President Obama, welcoming the Kennedy Center honorees: "Before Carlos
Santana took the stage at Woodstock few people outside his hometown of San Francisco knew who
he was, and the feeling was mutual: Carlos was in such a, shall we say, 'altered state of mind,' that
he remembers almost nothing about the performance."
@politicalwire : Gillibrand Sees Vote on Assault Bill Slip Away
@thehill : Democrats, Republicans try to figure out how to salvage their brands after a bruising 2013 by @alexanderbolton
@HowardKurtz : Mandela and the Media: Praise even from those who once opposed him

@sinderbrand : As the pool gathers at Andrews: Months worth of Obama trip prep crammed into
roughly 72 hours (via @reidepstein )