Though the unemployment rate dipped to 8.5 percent last month, it remains uncomfortably high for a president seeking reelection. Economists crunch the numbers to see if it's possible for unemployment to dip to 8 percent by Election Day.
The impasse over the payroll tax cut sent the public approval rating for Congress to new depths even as it gave Obama a corresponding boost. But as negotiators reopen discussions for a longer deal, all bets are off.
The House and Senate approved Friday a two-month extension of the payroll-tax cut, setting up a sequel to the three-month-long battle over one of President Obama's top legislative priorities.
House Speaker John Boehner agreed to let the Senate's payroll-tax deal come to the floor for a vote, where it is expected to pass Friday. It was a rare win in a tough year for Democrats.
A payroll tax extension may be on the way but Republicans like Newt Gingrich insist on a one-year extension. Meanwhile Romney supporters have continued airing ads attacking Gingrich in Iowa. Gingrich tried to take the higher road but Romney says 'if it's too hot for you, get out of the kitchen.'
Democrats are ramping up the pressure on House Republicans over their refusal to pass a payroll tax deal – and some Senate Republicans are not rushing to their colleagues' aid.