In Washington, lawmakers spent weeks battling over the extension of the payroll tax cut. Democrats didn’t budge and, under pressure, Republicans conceded. Meanwhile, the President came up the winner in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, which found that while Americans are still disappointed with his handling of the economy and unemployment, they are increasingly positive about his overall job performance. Republican presidential contenders are campaigning in advance of Iowa’s January 3rd caucuses. Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney continue to go at each other while Ron Paul rises in popularity. In the rest of the world, uprisings are reshaping the Middle East, where in Egypt Islamists have earned 70 percent of the vote in a recent election, Syria has agreed to permit outside observers in the face of violent crackdowns on protests, and a series of bombings last week provide evidence of an Iraq in political crisis after the withdrawal of U.S. troops. There’s renewed anxiety about Pakistan and much unknown about the future of leadership in North Korea. To talk about all of this we’ve invited DICK POLMAN, columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Newsworks.org, and Philadelphia Inquirer columnist TRUDY RUBIN to join us in the studio.