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This politically tricky trade-off is about to take center stage in negotiations over how to reduce the federal deficit and avoid going over the “fiscal cliff” seven weeks from now.

The White House says wealthy Americans must pay a higher tax rate to help produce more revenue to lower the deficit.

Congressional Republicans refuse. But they say they are open to other means of higher tax collections.

That might include limits to popular itemized deductions.


Scandal proves emails not all that private

Your emails are not nearly as private as you think.

The downfall of CIA Director David H. Petraeus demonstrates how easy it is for federal law enforcement agents to examine emails and computer records if they believe a crime was committed. With subpoenas and warrants, the FBI and other investigating agencies routinely gain access to electronic inboxes and information about email accounts offered by Google, Yahoo and other Internet providers.

Under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, federal authorities need only a subpoena approved by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — to obtain electronic messages that are six months old or older. To get more recent communications, a warrant from a judge is required. Critics want the law updated to reflect changes in technology.


Military’s new reality means a lot less money

One war is over, another is winding down amid loud calls to cut the deficit. The military has had robust budgets for more than a decade and now is coming to grips with a new reality — fewer dollars.

The election accelerated an already shifting political dynamic. The next year will pair a second-term Democratic president searching for spending cuts with tea partyers and conservatives intent on preserving lower tax rates above all else, even if it means once unheard of reductions in defense.

President Obama and Congress have just a few weeks to figure out how to avert the automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs totaling $110 billion next year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports