32 days to cliff — Welcome to December — WHITE HOUSE: NO PUNTING — NYT …

MORNING MINDMELD: The WSJ tucks this bombshell at the end of the sixth graf of its cliff story today: “A senior administration official said the White House would make no new offers until Republicans changed their opposition to raising top tax rates.” Reminds us of  the Civil War headline Playbook never tires of quoting: “IMPORTANT IF TRUE.” Turns out the support moratorium on bargaining is slightly overstated.  But the White House – recognizing, as top Republicans do privately, that it holds most of the cards — is maintaining an iron stance: “fair to say no deal gets done till Republicans move on rates for the wealthiest. … The White House has learned it lessons from summer of 2011 and won’t negotiate with itself. …. We won’t punt. It’s not an option. President campaigned on this and won.”

Frustration boiled over on both sides this week, with little continued pretense of cordiality. A top Dem.: “We all just feel we have made an offer and the Republicans have offered back crickets, nada, zip, zero, zilch. … These guys keep saying revenues, but they never say how much and how we actually achieve them. It is Mitt Romney math.” Republicans are equally chafed that the White House has not begun making concessions, leaving the talks stalemated after the first week of real negotiations.

–BOTTOM LINE: Each side is going through the stages of grief more slowly than the other side expected. There will be some give from both. But this is a slow dance, not ragtime.

BREAKING – “News Corp. Set to Name WSJ Editor as Publishing Company’s CEO,” by WSJ’s John Jannarone: “News Corp plans to name Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and editor in chief of Dow Jones, as chief executive of its publishing company as early as next week … Gerard Baker, currently Mr. Thomson’s deputy, is expected to succeed him as managing editor of the Journal. News Corp. is in the process of splitting into two listed companies, one containing its entertainment assets, such as the 20th Century Fox film studio and Fox News cable channel, and the other housing publishing assets, including Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones, its British and Australian newspapers, HarperCollins book publishing and Australian television assets. The company is expected to complete the split by the end of June. …

“News Corp. has previously said that Mr. Murdoch would remain chairman and CEO of the entertainment company but only chairman of the publishing company. Like Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Thomson was born in Australia. Mr. Thomson began his career in 1979 as a reporter at The Herald in Melbourne and later worked as a journalist in Asia. He subsequently became editor of the U.S. edition of the Financial Times and then editor of the Times of London. He was named editor of The Wall Street Journal and editor in chief of Dow Jones in 2008, a few months after News Corp. completed its acquisition of Dow Jones.”

–PLAYBOOK FACTS OF LIFE: The split companies are known on Wall Street as “Good News” and “Bad News.”

–GERRY BAKER’s promotion explains this Nov. 2 announcement by Pew Charitable Trusts: “Alan Murray, currently deputy managing editor and executive editor, online, for The Wall Street Journal, has been named President of the Pew Research Center, succeeding public opinion expert Andrew Kohut … The board said Kohut will stay on as Founding Director and continue to provide counsel on political polling and global attitudes research.” Murray wanted the M.E. job.

CLIFF DIVE – WSJ 5-col. lead, “GOP Takes Aim at Entitlements: Senate Minority Leader Calls for Bipartisan Support of Changes to Medicare, Social Security to Get Deal,” by Naftali Bendavid and Janet Hook, with Carol E. Lee and Andrew Ackerman: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined potential changes to Medicare and Social Security in an interview Friday, providing fresh clarity on the concessions Republicans would like to see from Democrats on cutting the costs of the federal entitlement programs. Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) said bipartisan agreement on higher Medicare premiums for the wealthy, an increase in the Medicare eligibility age and slowing cost-of-living increases for Social Security … ‘are the kinds of things that would get Republicans interested in new revenue’ … 

“Democrats said they were still awaiting a formal GOP proposal. … McConnell’s cost-saving suggestions, however, mark a clearer articulation of the compromises his side was demanding. … Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) said it was premature to expect major compromises. ‘It’s too early … It’s 31 days away.’  … [In Hatfield, Pa.,] Obama kicked off a campaign intended to pressure Republicans, with appearances around the U.S.”

–ATT Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, in a statement: “Following a meeting this week with the President, as well as conversations with Congressional leaders, I am more convinced than ever that a budget deal to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’ must and can be found.  This will require a compromise involving an increase in both tax rates and revenue in return for real and significant steps to reform entitlements and rein in federal spending. … Failure to address this will result in severe market disruptions, a return to negative economic growth, and businesses pulling in investment. This can and must be avoided.  It is no exaggeration to say that the future economic well-being of all Americans is riding on the outcome.”

THE JUICE — WashPost A1, below fold, “Ayotte offers GOP an influential new voice: N.H. senator is emerging as one of her party’s most visible figures on national security issues,” by Rosalind S. Helderman, with Ed O’Keefe: “Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, … [a 44-year-old] freshman in her second year and ranked 99th in seniority, … is a fresh face in a party that has lagged behind in advancing women into its most powerful positions and in making a convincing case to many female voters. Ayotte (pronounced AY-aht) infuses new blood into the GOP national security brain trust in the Senate led by [Sen. Lindsey]Graham and [John]McCain. It is an unusual role for a first-term senator, particularly one who arrived in Washington without a national profile. But Ayotte has been tapped repeatedly by the GOP to carry the party’s message. …. Ayotte’s name is regularly included on long lists of Republicans who might run for president in 2016. … Ayotte and her husband, a pilot with the New Hampshire National Guard, have two children, ages 8 and 5. …

“Ayotte’s partnership with McCain and Graham on Benghazi began shortly after the attack … Ayotte’s role in the trio has been filled in the past by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), … retiring from the Senate in January. The three of them were cheekily dubbed the ‘three amigos’ on the Hill, and … repeatedly joined together to push for a strong U.S. interventionist role in the world.  … [S]he shares with Graham and McCain a view of the U.S. role in the world that makes for a natural partnership. On Thursday, the Senate adopted an amendment sponsored by Ayotte to ban the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States on a bipartisan vote, 54 to 41. … Whether Ayotte uses her heightened visibility to become a spokeswoman for the right or tries to become more of a bridge between the parties remains an open question. … She was twice appointed attorney general in New Hampshire, first by a Republican and then by a Democrat. And McCain and Graham have traditionally been eager to work with Democrats on a wide variety of issues, and she may fit that mold in future years.” http://wapo.st/TyVyDl

**A message from MyWireless.org: Senators can give the perfect holiday gift that every American wireless consumer would like. The Wireless Tax Fairness Act provides relief to consumers by putting a freeze on discriminatory state and local wireless taxes and fees. Senators, Pass the Wireless Tax Fairness Act this Congress! http://act.mywireless.org/page/speakout/give-the-perfect-gift **

STATE VISIT – Notables visiting D.C. : Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn, who met on the Hill this week with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, incoming House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, and others.

–THE WAY TO WIN – Playbook loves this passage from Cohn’s 2009 commencement address at his alma mater, American University’s Kogod School of Business: “You’ve got to be motivated, you’ve got to wake up every day and understand what that day is about; you’ve got to have personal goals—short term goals, intermediate goals, and long term goals. Be flexible in getting to those goals, but if you do not have goals, you will not achieve them. You are competing. Every day you are competing and every day you are playing to win. So remember, wake up every morning and figure out how to win.” Text, word cloud, video http://bit.ly/WAGy8m

TOP TALKER – N.Y. Times A1, at the fold, “Retail Frenzy: Prices on Web Change Hourly,” by Stephanie Clifford: “The day before Thanksgiving, Amazon was offering a discounted price of $49.96 on a popular Xbox game, the same price as Walmart and 3 cents lower than Target. … Amazon dropped its price on the game, Dance Central 3, to $24.99 on Thanksgiving Day, matching Best Buy’s ‘doorbuster’ special, and went to $15 once Walmart stores offered the game at that lower price. Amazon then brought the price up, down, down again, up and up again — in all, seven price changes in seven days.  The unluckiest buyer paid more than triple the price that the luckiest buyer paid. … At the request of The New York Times, the pricing firm Dynamite Data tracked prices at three major online retailers — Walmart.com, Amazon.com and Target.com …

“The data shows that retailers paid close attention to competitors’ online prices and in-store specials, battling to undercut one another by as little as 2 cents and forcing each other into out-of-stock positions as they pushed prices down. Retailers fight to have the lowest prices to increase sales volume, aid in search-result prominence and help burnish a thrifty reputation. … In the last year, Walmart invested heavily in pricing tools … [S]maller retailers, including GameStop, Best Buy and Toys ‘R’ Us, [are] also adjusting some prices at least daily.  … The software … lets retailers establish rules on the pricing of certain products: always price Furbys 5 percent below Kmart, for example, or make sure some goods are priced at an average of Amazon’s and Walmart’s prices.” http://nyti.ms/TsYmRX

REPUBLICAN REBOOT – AP for Sunday papers, “GOP Leadership Void … Romney’s loss creates GOP leadership vacuum,” by Steve Peoples in Boston: “The face of the GOP for much of the last year, the failed presidential candidate has been a virtual ghost … In his final meeting with campaign staffers at his Boston headquarters, Romney promised to remain ‘a strong voice for the party,’ according to those in attendance. But so far he has offered little to the Capitol Hill negotiations … Republican strategist Phil Musser is among those suggesting that the current presents a breakout opportunity for the current party chairman, Reince Priebus. The 40-year-old Midwesterner largely played a supporting administrative role in his first two years on the job. … ‘We don’t have one person out there carrying that torch. You’ll have (South Carolina Sen.) Lindsey Graham, Speaker Boehner, (Wisconsin Rep.) Paul Ryan, John McCain – same old, same old,’ said Republican strategist Hogan Gidley, a senior official on former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s unsuccessful presidential bid. …. ‘[W]e’re going to have to rely on some of the younger more dynamic speakers to go out and make our argument.’” http://yhoo.it/VfXRwu

OBAMA’S WEEK AHEAD: “On Saturday, the President has no public events scheduled. On Sunday, the President and the First Lady will host the Kennedy Center Honorees Reception in the East Room. The President will deliver remarks. The President’s remarks are pooled press.  Later, the President and the First Lady will attend the Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center. … On Monday, the President will host Prime Minister Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria at the White House.  … Then the President will deliver remarks to the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) symposium being held at the National Defense University.  On the 20th anniversary of the CTR program, the President will note the extraordinary progress that’s been made in securing nuclear material, and thank Senators Nunn and Lugar for their longstanding leadership on these issues.

“On Tuesday, the President will meet with governors at the White House to discuss the actions we need to take to keep our economy growing and find a balanced approach to reduce our deficit.  On Wednesday, the President will deliver remarks to members of the Business Roundtable. Then the President will deliver remarks at the 2012 Tribal Nations Conference. On Thursday, the President and the First Family will attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting on the Ellipse.”

BRICS WATCH (emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) – Financial Times p. 1,  below fold, “Brazil’s hopes of return to high growth hit as economy shows signs of stalling,” by Joe Leahy in Rio de Janeiro and Stefan Wagstyl in London: “Brazil is on track for one of its slowest years in a decade. … Brazil’s stalling comes amid mounting evidence of economic slowdown in other emerging markets, notably India, … on course for … lowest [growth] rate for a decade. … Most other leading emerging economies have also reported decelerating growth in the third quarter, … including Russia … and China … There are regions where growth is holding up better than forecast, notably in southeast Asia, including Indonesia. But in eastern Europe, some economies are mired in recession, for example Croatia … Mexico, … with an economy much more open to trade, is growing more rapidly than Brazil.”

MEDIAWATCH – WashPost Ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton, in Sunday’s paper, “The Post needs to recapture its Style”: “The Washington Post brand is not simply Watergate. Part and parcel of The Post’s brand is also the idiosyncratic and irreverent Style section. At its best, Style … gave and gives The Post not only voice and cachet but also power. … These stories draw readers and influence to The Post because they capture the cultural anthropology of this town and help define each era, even each presidency, as a moment in history, different than the others. … In 1969, when Ben Bradlee blew up The Post’s ‘women’s’ section and launched Style, that kind of narrative-writing about culture and personality was innovative. Today it is everywhere, done by bloggers, online magazines and a pack of Web sites. But little of that is done very well, and Washington remains a unique cultural vantage point from which to do such pieces. I think that The Post needs to revitalize Style and give it its own uniquely identifiable digital presence. The challenges to Style may be harder than the obstacles facing any other part of this publication. And I don’t mean to criticize the current Style editor, Frances Stead Sellers, or the handful of writers she has left to write people and zeitgeist profiles. …

“Doing Style coverage is harder now, Sellers pointed out … ‘Style is all about capturing the culture of the city and the ideas that inform it — and that culture has certainly changed from when Georgetown was the social hub and the government was about the only employer in town … Washington today is … a far more varied and interesting city — socially, culturally, economically, artistically, not to mention the suburbs with their enormous growth and diversity of immigrant populations. That gives us richer fare to write about …. but it also makes Washington more difficult to characterize, its key players harder to identify, its peculiar foibles harder to pinpoint.’ …  Sellers said that if she could have three things, it would be two additional general-assignment writers and one arts reporter — not a critic — who would ‘report on the business and personalities of the burgeoning and increasingly sophisticated cultural scene here.’ … Style is the Post’s franchise. Honor it by reviving it.” http://wapo.st/TsWQ2r

SPORTS BLINK – Business Week, “Thursday Night Football Scores Big for the NFL,” by Andy Fixmer: “By reserving Thursday games for the NFL Network, the league is forgoing an estimated $1.45 billion a year in revenue it likely could charge other media outlets for rights to those midweek matches. The NFL is betting it can wring out even more revenue over the long term by showing the games on its own. The league had aired eight Thursday night games on the NFL Network late in the season every year since 2006. … Now, with scheduled match-ups from September to December, the channel airs games in three-quarters of the 17-week NFL season. …

“The NFL Network and its sister RedZone Network, which continuously flips between live scoring drives of multiple games on Sunday afternoons, generate subscriber fees of 95¢ a month for the league, researcher SNL Kagan estimates. That comes to $890 million in annual fees from cable, satellite, and telecom video operators, making the NFL Network second only to ESPN among sports networks. In addition, NFL Network’s ad sales will exceed $200 million this year, more than double the $99.6 million in 2011, predicts SNL Kagan.” http://buswk.co/11g20Vq

BIRTHDAYS: Karen Tumulty … Birthday-palooza in Obamaworld: Jen Psaki … Shin Inouye (White House Communications) … Natalie Wyeth Earnest (Treasury) … Kyle Lierman (Public Engagement) … .Wayne Ting (NEC) … Raul Alvilla (HUD) …. Plus in the outside world, Josh Kraushaar … Natalie Ravitz … Charlie Anderson (aka Uncanderson) … Florida Gov. Rick Scott is 60 … Becky Weissman, staff assistant for the Senate Homeland Security Committee, is 23 (h/t her NYUTelAviv friends) … former CIA director Stansfield Turner is 89 … Woody Allen is 77 … Lee Trevino is 73 … Bette Midler is 67 (h/ts AP)

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Larry Summers … Sen. Richard Burr was 57… Margaret Spellings (h/ts Patrick Gavin)

BIRTHDAYS TOMRROW: Mayor Bloomberg’s press secretary Marc La Vorgna is 34 (hat tip: Julie Wood) … TUESDAY: OFA’s surrogate chief Matt Bevens; Campbell Marshall; Jackie Kucinich

THE SHOWS, from @MattMackowiak:

NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN); roundtable with Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), CNBC’s Jim Cramer and CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo

ABC’s “This Week”: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; roundtable with Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), former Romney campaign senior foreign policy adviser Dan Senor, former Obama administration lead auto adviser Steven Rattner and ABC News’ Cokie Roberts

CBS’s “Face the Nation”: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); economic roundtable with Moody Analytics’ chief economist Mark Zandi, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget president Maya MacGuineas, TIME Magazine’s Rana Foroohar and CBS News’ John Dickerson

“Fox News Sunday”: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH); roundtable with The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, NPR’s Mara Liasson, former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Republican strategist Ed Rollins

CNN’s “State of the Union” (SUN 9-10am ET / 12pm ET): Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH); roundtable with Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT), former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, USA Today’s Susan Page and The Hill’s A.B. Stoddard

CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”: (SUN 10am ET / 1pm ET): Segment on Egypt with Harvard University’s Tarek Masoud and TIME Magazine’s Richard Stengel; segment on China with The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos and the Council on Foreign Relations’ Elizabeth Economy; segment on the Congo with The New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman; segment on the economy with author Nassim Taleb (“Antifragile”)

C-SPAN: “The Communicators” (SAT 6:30pm ET): Center for Democracy Technology Project on Freedom, Security Technology director Gregory Nojeim and FBI Agents Association president Konrad Motyka … “Newsmakers” (SUN 10am ET / 6pm ET): Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA … “QA” (SUN 8pm ET / 11pm ET): Author Michael Hill (“Elihu Washburne”)

Univision’s “Al Punto” (SUN 10am ET): Former Mexican presidential candidate (PRI) Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador; segment on immigration reform with the National Immigration Forum’s Katherine Vargas and Vamos Unidos USA’s Juan Jose Gutierrez; Noticias SIN (Dominican Republic) anchor and investigative journalist (“El Informe”) Alicia Ortega and investigative journalist Nuria Peria; TECHO president Nicolas Berardi

NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show”: Roundtable with TIME Magazine’s Richard Stengel, BBC’s Katty Kay, New York Magazine’s John Heilemann and CNN’s Gloria Borger

–ABC7’s “Inside Washington”: (SAT 7pm ET on NewsChannel 8 / SUN 9am ET on ABC7 WJLA): Roundtable with Evan Thomas (“Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World”), NPR’s Nina Totenberg and syndicated columnists Mark Shields and Charles Krauthammer

Bloomberg’s “Political Capital” with Al Hunt (SUN 8am ET / 1pm ET): National Economic Council director Gene Sperling

Bloomberg’s “Capitol Gains” (Bloomberg TV SUN 12pm ET / 5pm ET): Aetna chairman and CEO Mark Bertolina; segment on the fiscal cliff with Bloomberg Government director of research Bob Litan and Bloomberg Government health care analyst Chris Flavelle; profile of Washington lawyer (Gibson, Dunn Crutcher) Gene Scalia

–PBS’s “To the Contrary”: Women’s History episode, featuring previously aired interviews with actress Meryl Streep, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and civil rights leader Dr. Dorothy Height

MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes” (SUN 8-10am ET): Gov. Dan Malloy (D-CT); Roosevelt Institute fellow Elizabeth Pearson; author, contributor to The New York Times blog “Economix” and The Fiscal Times and Tax Note columnist Bruce Bartlett (“The Benefit and the Burden”); Center for Social Inclusion founder and president Maya Wiley; Newsweek / Daily Beast’s Tony Dokoupil; former Obama administration senior drug policy advisor and The University of Florida’s Kevin Sabet and George Mason University’s Veronique de Rugy

MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” (SUN 10am-12pm ET): Political roundtable with Columbia University’s Dorian Warren, co-author and Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch (“Declaration of Independents”), former Romney campaign advisor Tara Wall and NBC Latino contributor Raul Reyes; Common Cause staff counsel Stephen Spaulding; National Domestic Workers Alliance director Ai-jen Poo; National Employment Law Project policy co-director and Roosevelt Institute fellow Annette Bernhardt

TV One’s “Washington Watch with Roland Martin”: (SUN 9am ET): National Economic Council director Gene Sperling; Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC); Gen. John Hawkins (U.S. Army, ret.); National Council of Negro Women executive director Dr. Avis Jones De-Weever; National Council on Black Civic Participation president Melanie Campbell; Black Coaches and Administrators president Floyd Keith; journalist / commentator panel with MSNBC political analyst and former DNC Communications Director Karen Finney, Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson, The Bernard Center for Women president Michelle Bernard and Georgetown University’s Dr. Chris Metzler

–SiriusXM’s “Polioptics” with Josh King and Adam Belmar (SUN 12pm ET / 6 pm ET): Shelley Ross, award-winning journalist, producer and writer, on the intersection of broadcasting and politics. And Ajay Patil, co-founder of Showcall, Inc., on preparations now underway in Washington for the 57th Presidential Inauguration on January 21, 2013. On SiriusXM’s POTUS Ch. 124, also available for download on iTunes and at http://www.polioptics.com.

** A message from MyWireless.org: Senators can give the perfect holiday gift that every American wireless consumer would like, and it doesn’t cost a thing!

Wireless users are paying on average more than 17% a month in wireless taxes and fees. That’s nearly-two-and-a-half times the average sales tax rate of 7%. The Wireless Tax Fairness Act (Wyden-Snowe, S.543) provides financial relief to consumers by putting a five-year freeze on new and discriminatory state and local wireless taxes and fees. The House passed it with overwhelming bipartisan support. Now the Senate can put a bow on it.

Senators, Pass the wireless tax fairness act this congress! Learn more at http://act.mywireless.org/page/speakout/give-the-perfect-gift **

Article source: http://www.politico.com/playbook/1212/playbook9577.html

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