2 days to cliff — OBAMA: ‘Ordinary folks … do their jobs. They meet deadlines’ — Reid, McConnell bargain; vote possible Sun. — House may vote Sun. night or Mon. — Barnett’s latest deal

By: MIKE ALLEN | 12/29/12 8:18 AM AST
EMAIL DU JOUR, from Sunny Mindel: “Chuck Todd is the answer to the Sunday NYT’s 27 Across clue, ‘Chuck of NBC News.’ You’re nobody until you’re an answer to a ‘Jeopardy!’ question or an NYT xword clue!”

DRIVING THE WEEKEND: President Obama does “Meet the Press,” taping with David Gregory at the White House today. NBC release: “This will be [Obama’s] 11th appearance on ‘Meet the Press’ and his second time as the Commander-in-Chief. His most recent appearance was on September 20, 2009, during the health care reform fight.”

WALL STREET MAY PROD HILL TO ACT – Patrick Reis and Jon Prior: “‘Sometimes a volatile market is what it takes to make them see the light,’ said Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), chairman of the chamber’s Banking Committee. A market shock would ‘absolutely’ add impetus to strike a cliff deal, said Sen. Rob Portman. ‘People here are very attuned to the market’ … Market plunges have moved Congress to compromise in the past, most notably during the 2008 financial crisis. At the height of the crisis, the Dow plunged 778 points on Sept. 29 when the House rejected the bank bailout bill. Five days later, a slightly amended version of the bill sailed through the House when almost 60 representatives … flipped their votes to back the bill. …

“[W]hile lawmakers could undo tax increases and spending cuts through a deal early next year, analysts say the damage to the market could not be so easily undone — even if lawmakers reach a deal in early January. That’s because a trip over the cliff could convince investors that Washington is too dysfunctional to stay out of the economy’s way.” http://politi.co/UswxMI

PRESIDENT OBAMA, in the Briefing Room at 5:52 p.m.: “I still want to get this done. … We’re now at the point where, in just four days, every American’s tax rates are scheduled to go up by law. Every American’s paycheck will get considerably smaller. … I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I’m optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time. Senators Reid and McConnell are working on such an agreement as we speak. But if an agreement isn’t reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote –- one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction. …

“This is déjà vu all over again. America wonders why it is that in this town, for some reason, you can’t get stuff done in an organized timetable; why everything always has to wait until the last minute. … But let’s not miss this deadline. … [O]utside of Washington, nobody understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern over and over again. Ordinary folks, they do their jobs. They meet deadlines. They sit down and they discuss things, and then things happen. … So I’m modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved.”

HEADLINES: Newsday cover, with Obama pic, “JUST DO IT” … WSJ 5-col. lead, “Cliff Deal Hinges on Senators: White House Meeting Ends With Expressions of Cautious Optimism on Negotiations From Both Sides” … NYT 1-col. lead, “SENATE LEADERS START TO CREATE TAX COMPROMISE: PRODDED BY PRESIDENT — Boehner Cedes Control – Votes on the Floor Possible Monday” … WP 2-col. lead, “Leaders hope for cliffhanger vote on taxes: SENATE PLANS TO CONVENE SUNDAY – Many details of partial budget package still unclear” … FT 5-col. lead, “‘Modest optimism’ on fiscal cliff” … ChiTrib, col. 1, “President ‘modestly optimistic’ about deal: Outlook shifts in ‘cliff’ talks ahead of Monday’s deadline.”

** A message from The Campaign to Fix the Debt: The most important issue facing our country today is fixing the national debt. If the President and Congress work together, then Americans will stand with them. This isn’t about partisan politics or special interests. It’s about our children’s future. What could possibly be more important? Learn more at http://www.fixthedebt.org. **

KERRY’S SEAT – Boston Globe A1, “Leaders in party support Markey: Democrats move to prevent divisive fight for Senate seat,” by Frank Phillips: “Top members of the Democratic establishment on Friday threw their weight behind the Senate candidacy of US Representative Edward Markey in what appeared to be a coordinated effort by party leaders to close ranks behind the congressman and avoid a divisive primary. Senator John Kerry, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of state, along with Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee all issued statements of support for Markey. … The rallying of support behind him sends a clear sign to other potential Democratic candidates, namely Representatives Michael Capuano of Somerville and Stephen Lynch of South Boston, to stay out of the race. Both representatives were bristling at the bold move Friday night, and offered no indication that they would back off any consideration of entering the race …

“The unusual attempt to clear the field for Markey reflects the Democratic leaders’ eagerness to avoid a primary battle that would drain resources and potentially create bitterness within the party. Democrats are still reeling from Senator Scott Brown’s upset victory in January 2010 … Kerry’s statement about Markey, saying he would ‘support his decision to run for the United States Senate,’ came as a surprise in state Democratic circles. … Less than an hour after Kerry’s statement was released two others followed: one from Victoria Kennedy, and another from Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which raises money for candidates around the country. Both offered strong sup­port to Markey, 66, using language similar to that of Kerry. … Capuano pushed back strongly against the notion that the endorsements would have an effect on his decision. … The senator’s flattering words are atypical of Kerry, who has not often involved himself in primary battles.” http://bo.st/10vZBXU

THE TALK OF NEW YORK: N.Y. Post wood, “FEAR ON SUBWAY: Riders are spooked by pusher” … N.Y. Daily News wood, “7 TRAIN PSYCHO: Crazed woman who shoved innocent straphanger to his death still on the loose” … N.Y. Times col. 5 (all editions), “414 Homicides A Record Low For New York: Crime Edges Up in 2012 – iPhones Are Cited”

–AP’s Tom Hays: “For New York City, it wasn’t an unusual sight: a possibly mentally ill woman pacing and mumbling to herself on an elevated subway station platform. The woman eventually took a seat on a bench Thursday night … Then … she sprang up and used both hands to shove a man into the path of an oncoming train. … Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged residents to keep the second fatal subway shove in the city this month in perspective. The news of the horrific death of 46-year-old Sunando Sen, who was from India and lived in Queens, came as the mayor touted drops in the city’s annual homicide and shooting totals. … The New York Police Department released a sketch of the woman and surveillance video of her fleeing the area and interviewed witnesses, including some who described her as acting agitated before the attack.

“[W]itnesses said Sen … had no interaction with the woman, who … darted down a stairway … Investigators identified Sen, who lived alone, through a smartphone and a prescription pill bottle he was carrying. They notified his relatives in India. … Bloomberg, asked … about the episode at a station on Queens Boulevard in the Sunnyside neighborhood, pointed to legal and policy changes that led to the release of many mentally ill people from psychiatric institutions from the 1960s through 1990s. … [M]any people fall or jump to their deaths in front of rushing trains each year. Though shoving deaths are rare, Thursday night’s killing came just weeks after a man was pushed in front of a train in Times Square. A homeless man was charged with murder.”

MEDIAWATCH – NBC release: “NBC News … announced that Kasie Hunt will join the network’s Washington … bureau as an off-air reporter/producer covering politics beginning January 7 … Hunt comes to NBC News from the Associated Press, where she has served as a national political reporter since August 2011. As one of the organization’s lead campaign trail reporters, Hunt covered the Republican primary field and nominee Mitt Romney, eventually following the Romney campaign nearly full time from December 2011 through election day. Prior to joining the AP, Hunt covered the 2010 mid-term elections and the emerging GOP presidential primary race as a national political reporter for POLITICO. … Hunt is a graduate of George Washington University and holds a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Cambridge, where she was a member of St John’s College.”

–Kasie was represented by (drum roll, please) … Robert Barnett.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Nate Tamarin emails: “Elena Katherine Tamarin born [yesterday] morning, healthy and beautiful. Elizabeth resting and doing well, and Nicholas can’t wait to meet his baby sister.”

BIRTHDAYS: Katie Glueck (hat tip: Jedd Rosche) … Kevin Griffis of Podesta (hat tip: Christina Bellantoni) … NPR’s Erica Ryan (hat tip: Patrick Gavin) … Andrew Malcolm, Rep. Greg Walden’s press secretary (h/t Greg Meiselbach and Laura Reed) … Gracie Brandsgard, vice chair of the College Democrats of America National Council, and president of the College Democrats of Iowa, is 21 (h/t Jake Sticka, chair, College Democrats National Council) … ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 78 … Mary Tyler Moore is 76 … Jon Voight is 74 … jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. is 66 … Ted Danson is 65 … Paula Poundstone is 53 … Jude Law is 40 (h/ts AP)

BIRTHDAYS TOMORROW: Tammy Haddad (hat tip: Hilary) … Lauren Claffey, press secretary for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (h/ts Bronwyn Lance Chester) … Avery Katherine Fetterman, who will be the fifth female President, is 1 (h/t Gail Maness of Richmond) … Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas (h/t Monica Talan) … MONDAY: Dick Short is 80 … Brian Danza … Darren Reisberg, executive director, Axelrod’s University of Chicago Institute of Politics … JAN. 4: Rob Gifford, Senior Producer of “NOW w/ Alex Wagner,” formerly of “Morning Joe” and “Way Too Early” (h/t wife Jacqueline) … JAN. 5: Walter Mondale

THE SHOWS, from @MattMackowiak:

–NBC’s “Meet the Press”: President Obama; roundtable with NBC’s Tom Brokaw, historians Jon Meacham and Doris Kearns Goodwin, New York Times columnist David Brooks and NBC’s Chuck Todd

–ABC’s “This Week”: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID); guest host: ABC News’ Jonathan Karl; roundtable: former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT), Financial Services Roundtable president and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), POLITICO’s Maggie Haberman and Vanity Fair’s Todd Purdum; segment on the financial fallout in the countdown to the Fiscal Cliff with ABC News’ Bianna Golodryga and Fortune Magazine’s Leigh Gallagher

–CBS’s “Face the Nation”: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL); Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK); political roundtable with Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, former Clinton administration press secretary and Vanity Fair’s Dee Dee Myers, TIME Magazine’s Michael Duffy and TIME Magazine columnist Joe Klein; updates on Capitol Hill from CBS correspondents Major Garrett and Nancy Cordes

–“Fox News Sunday”: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); roundtable with The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes and Daily Beast columnist Kirsten Powers

–CNN’s “State of the Union” (SUN 9-10am ET / 12pm ET): Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA); roundtable with CNN’s Jessica Yellin, The New York Times’ Matt Bai, The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty and The Wall Street Journal’s Jerry Seib

–CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”: (SUN 10am ET / 1pm ET): Obama administration National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; former Nixon administration Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger; former Alcoa CEO and former Bush administration Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and former Obama administration State Department director of policy and planning Anne-Marie Slaughter

–Univision’s “Al Punto” (SUN 10am ET): Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL); Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL); La Raza director of immigration and national campaigns Clarissa Martinez de Castro; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles spokesperson Jorge Mario Cabrera; motivational speaker Marco Carvajal; roundtable with Univision correspondents Maria Antonieta Collins, Lourdes Meluza and Blanca Rosa Vilchez (guest host: Maria Elena Salinas)

–C-SPAN: “The Communicators” (SAT 6:30pm ET): New York Times investigative reporter James Glanz … “Newsmakers” (SUN 10am ET / 6pm ET): Rep.-elect Luke Messer (R-IN), questioned by Roll Call’s Jason Dick and The Hill’s Emily Goodin … “Q&A” (SUN 8pm ET / 11pm ET): Author Kevin Phillips (“1775: A Good Year for Revolution”)

–NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show”: Roundtable with BBC’s Katty Kay, TIME magazine’s Michael Duffy, The New York Times’ Helene Cooper and ABC News’ Sam Donaldson

–ABC7’s “Inside Washington”: (SAT 7pm ET on NewsChannel 8 / SUN 9am ET on ABC7 WJLA): Roundtable with Washington Post columnist Colbert King and syndicated columnists Mark Shields and Charles Krauthammer

–Bloomberg’s “Political Capital” with Al Hunt (SUN 8am ET / 1pm ET): Roundtable on the outlook for the U.S. economy, foreign policy and domestic issues in 2013 with Bloomberg correspondents Mike Dorning, John Walcott, Hans Nichols and Heidi Przybyla

–Bloomberg’s “Capitol Gains” (SUN 12pm ET / 5pm ET): Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA); Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH); segment on Obamacare with Bloomberg Government health care analysts Chris Flavelle and Matt Barry

–TV One’s “Washington Watch with Roland Martin”: (SUN 9am ET): Rebrodcast with The Potter’s House worship center (Dallas) Pastor T.D. Jakes; R&B star Rahsaan Patterson; roundtable on the Trayvon Martin case with National Action Network’s Janaye Ingram, aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) Brandon Andrews and Chief of Staff to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Mikael Moore; journalist / commentator panel with Loop21.com’s Keli Goff, Sirius/XM radio hosts Armstrong Williams and Joe Madison and Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher

–SiriusXM’s “Polioptics” with Josh King and Adam Belmar (SUN 12pm ET / 6 pm ET): Year in review from highlights of the last 12 months on the POTUS Channel. On SiriusXM’s POTUS Ch. 124; also available for download on iTunes and at http://www.polioptics.com.

** A message from The Campaign to Fix the Debt: No matter who you are, what you do or where you live, we all know there’s no more important issue facing our country today than working together-regardless of party affiliation-to fix the national debt. So while the President and Congress are negotiating their way towards a solution, we’d like them to know that every day American citizens are standing with and behind them. Because this challenge isn’t about partisan politics or special interests. This is about our economy’s health, our country’s prosperity and our children’s future. And what could possibly be more important? Learn more at http://www.fixthedebt.org.