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News Wrap: Sub-Zero Cold Wave Crosses Central, Eastern Europe

January 31, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: The latest estimate of the federal deficit puts it at $1.1 trillion for this fiscal year. The Congressional Budget Office released the new number today. It’s less than last year’s deficit of $1.33 trillion, but up from an estimate last summer.

Republicans, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said it’s more evidence the president’s policies have failed.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: CBO has indicated that we will run a trillion-dollar, at least, deficit again, making it every single year of this administration we have had at least a trillion-dollar-a-year deficit. It’s important to remember the president got everything he wanted the first two years. We’re living in the Obama economy.

KWAME HOLMAN: At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney argued the president has done his part to cut spending. He said the real problem is the other side steadfastly rules out tax hikes.

JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: What has been lacking thus far is any willingness to deal with revenue in any meaningful way by the Republicans. And that is just not the approach that the broad base of the American public feels is the right way to go.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Congressional Budget Office study said, if the Bush era tax cuts were allowed to lapse, the deficits would drop sharply.

Consumer confidence fell in January, after two months of gains. The Conference Board, a business research group, blamed worries about higher gasoline prices and overall business conditions. That was enough to slow Wall Street some. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 20 points to close below 12,633. The Nasdaq rose about two points to close above 2,813. Overall, the Dow and the S&P 500 had their best January in 15 years. The Nasdaq was up by the most in 11 years.

The president moved to revive a small business tax break plan today. He said he wants Congress to eliminate capital gains taxes for investments in small businesses and to grant deductions that help smaller firms grow.

At a Cabinet meeting, Mr. Obama said it was a priority for him, and one Democrats and Republicans have endorsed.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My expectation and hope is, is that they will get a bill together quickly, that they will pass it and get it on my desk. I will sign it right away. And I would like to see that bill signed this year.

KWAME HOLMAN: The small business ideas are part of the president’s budget package, to be unveiled next month.

The death toll neared 60 today in a subzero cold wave across Central and Eastern Europe. Temperatures plunged to minus-17 degrees Fahrenheit in some places. Ukraine was among the hardest hit. Heating centers inside tents were set up across Kiev for homeless people. The number of people being treated for frostbite also was on the rise. In Poland, five people died of hypothermia in the last 24 hours alone.

For the first time, Americans who suffer from cystic fibrosis will have access to a drug that treats the root cause. The Food and Drug Administration approved Kalydeco today for use by 1,200 patients with a rare form of the disease. In all, about 30,000 Americans have cystic fibrosis. It causes mucus buildup in the lungs and other organs and generally causes death by young adulthood.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.