Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Secret Service says gunshots were fired in the vicinity of Vice President Joe Biden’s home on Saturday evening.

According to a Secret Service spokesperson, the incident occurred at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, while both the vice president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were out for the evening. A vehicle is believed to have driven past the residence at a high speed, firing multiple gun shots.

Secret Service personnel posted outside the residence heard the gunshots and spotted a vehicle driving away from the home at a high speed.

The Secret Service says it is working with New Castle County police to investigate the gunshots.

One person was taken into custody on Saturday evening after the individual attempted to pass a police officer working to secure the perimeter of the area. Police said the individual was arrested for resisting arrest.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — Senior White House officials say President Obama will use his state of the union to float several new economic ideas, including tax hikes on capital gains and wealthy inheritances, and new fees on the largest financial firms to pay for more middle class-friendly tax credits and cuts.

The price tag to the wealthiest Americans and those large financial institutions? According to senior White House officials it could be $320 billion over 10 years.

The president will propose raising the capital gains rate to 28 percent, up from 15 percent, which is the maximum most taxpayers pay now.

The president will also call for closing what the officials called “the single biggest loophole in our tax system today: … the trust fund loophole,” which allows portfolios and estates that increase in value to evade certain taxes when passed on to heirs.

The officials said “hundreds of billions of dollars of capital gains every year go untaxed entirely.”

Closing that loophole will mean “every American, even the wealthiest ones, actually pay taxes on the gains,” the officials said, adding that 99 percent of the impact of this action would affect only the top 1 percent of taxpayers.

The new proposal would also protect middle class taxpayers by adding exemptions for heirlooms and bequests under $200,000 for couples and property with value under $500,000 for couples.

They also said the new structures would not add a “compliance burden” to middle class taxpayers, but didn’t elaborate on the details.

The president is also proposing special protections for small, family-owned businesses that are passed down, where no tax would be due unless or until the business is sold, and any “closely held business would have the option to pay tax on gains over 15 years.”

The total amount of money raised for the government by these actions would be about $210 billion over 10 years, they said.

The second component of increasing government revenue is adding fees to about 100 financial institutions that engage in the highest risk borrowing and lending — the kind that contributed to economic trouble seen in the last decade, the officials said.

Those institutions would have to each have over $50 billion in assets.

The president’s proposal would impose a “seven basis point fee on the liabilities” of the firms. That would “lead (the firms) to make decisions more consistent with the economy-wide effects of their actions, which would in turn help reduce the probability of major defaults” and add $110 billion to government coffers over 10 years, according to a White House fact sheet and senior administration officials.

The officials said $175 billion of the money would go directly to proposals to benefit the middle class. They added to that the $60 billion over 10 years that they expect will be the cost of the “free” community college plan they rolled out last week, making the total $235 billion in new spending.

That’s still below the $320 billion they expect to raise with the new taxes and fees above, they point out.

“The middle class has yet to experience the prosperity shown in the recovery and what will be new on Tuesday night is the vision that he has for how we finish that job and how we ensure that the middle class can share in that prosperity,” one of the senior administration officials said.

To that end, the president’s proposal will include:

- Tripling the child care tax credit maximum to $3,000 and making the maximum available to more families, some with higher incomes, which the White House says will help 5.1 million families;

- Doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit for taxpayers without kids and raise the income level at which the EITC phases out which the White House says will help 13.2 million lower income workers;

- Creating a “Second Earner” tax credit of up to $500, giving back to households where both parents work to support the family, which the White House says will benefit 24 million couples;

- Adding a $2,500 per year tax incentive for up to five years (not four) for students getting a college degree. This would be coupled with new reforms to streamline lending and repayment for student loans.

In addition, Obama will propose that all businesses — even small ones, with fewer than 100 employees — work with the federal government to establish automatic savings plans or the like to help get all workers invested in saving for retirement, the officials said.

Small businesses would be offered various tax credits to “offset the administrative expenses” and even part-time workers would be included.

The president will include a proposal to cap balances in IRAs and other tax-preferred retirement plans at about $3.4 million, to “prevent wealthy individuals from using loopholes to accumulate huge amounts of tax-favored retirement benefits.”

The senior officials said that the White House is hopeful that much of what they are proposing includes elements that are “bipartisan” and that many off the provisions have been championed in previous Congressional proposals brought by both sides of the aisle.

“We are obviously having a conversation with Congress about how to move forward. I think we start from the presumption that there’s every reason why we should be able to move forward on a robust agenda for the middle class and why we should be able to do so without increasing the deficit,” one official said. “There will be lots of time to figure out the conversations about where and how the Congress might move and respond to that.”

Asked if all the pre-SOTU proposal rollouts will mean a shorter speech Tuesday night, one official said: “It’ll be a healthy speech still in terms of breadth and length.”

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Svetlana Larina/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A key figure in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act stepped down on Friday.

For nearly five years, Marilyn Tavener oversaw the operations of Medicare and Medicaid, but that agency also produced the troubled insurance marketplace website HealthCare.gov.

Tavener was summoned before Congress in November 2013 to account for the disastrous rollout of the website, where she pledged to have the website working by the end of that month.

Tavener said on Friday she leaves the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with “sadness and mixed emotions.”

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ABC/Matthew Putney(SAN DIEGO) — Joking that appearing before members of the Republican National Committee felt like a “high school reunion,” Romney made clear what his camp began hinting at last week: he’s really thinking about a third run for president.

“I’m giving some serious consideration to the future,” Romney said, taking the stage at the Friday dinner of the RNC’s winter meeting aboard the hulking aircraft carrier USS Midway.

If the RNC meeting was a high school reunion, Romney seemed like a senior returning in the fall after a particularly difficult summer, eager to reinvent himself as a candidate of the future, a foreign policy sage and populist.

“For our party and for the nation, 2016 is not going to be about the Obama years. It’s going to be about the post-Obama era. And in the post-Obama era, conservative principles are needed as perhaps never before during our lifetime,” he said.

Some of Romney’s toughest criticism of Obama was over his foreign policy – fitting given that the president’s former secretary of state could be the top contender for the Democratic nomination.

“The results of the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama foreign policy has been devastating,” Romney said, mentioning the terrorist attacks in Paris, the ongoing threat of Islamist extremists in the Middle East and the Boko Haram massacres in Nigeria.

But he had a small slip-up when he accidentally said that “Liberia is in disarray,” immediately correcting himself to say that, in fact, “Libya” is in disarray (although one could argue they both are).

And what may have stood out to close followers of Romney’s 2012 campaign was a new-sounding populist note. He introduced three “pillars,” which could double easily as a campaign mission statement: national security, opportunity for all and eradicating poverty – a far cry from his last campaign where he was heard making the infamous “47 percent” remark.

“The only policies that will reach into the hearts of the American people and pull people out of poverty and break the cycle of poverty are Republican principles, conservative principles,” he said, calling the poverty rate in America a “human tragedy.”

Romney also spoke about the work he does in his Mormon church, something that was a rare topic in 2012, as his strategists warned that talking about Mormonism at length might alienate some voters. He segued to the topic by talking about how his wife Ann, who became a campaign trail fixture, “knows my heart.”

“She’s seen me not just as a business guy and a political guy, but for over ten years, as you know I served as a pastor for a congregation and for groups of congregations. So she’s seen me work with people who are very poor and need assistance.”

The meeting that Romney’s remarks concluded featured RNC members from around the country working on administrative business like number of candidates’ debates (there will be up to twelve) and the re-election of national officials.

The members in San Diego also heard from potential 2016 hopefuls Dr. Ben Carson, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and many expressed more enthusiasm about those prospective candidates than they did about Romney. The prevailing attitude about the former Massachusetts governor was that he might be an accomplished leader and good man, but that maybe he should step aside to let other new candidates run.

Despite the diplomatic niceties heard in the halls of the Hotel Del Coronado, where the RNC meeting took place, some Romney 2012 supporters in fundraising hubs like New York reacted to news of his considering a bid by saying they would jump right on board.

Romney spoke at Friday night’s more casual dinner, as opposed to the marquee spots that Walker and Perry got, speaking before dinner and lunch crowds respectively. A live band with women in glittering gowns performed before he took the stage and attendees milled about drinking cocktails and helping themselves to food at carving stations.

But the more relaxed setting was perhaps a more inviting format for Romney to re-introduce himself to the GOP establishment, given that he’s kept a low public profile since losing the 2012 general election to Barack Obama.

As soon as Romney left the stage and did a few minutes of shaking hands, the band struck up again with “Celebrate Good Times” and RNC members took to the dance floor.

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Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In his weekly address, President Obama recounted the stories of letters he received from across the country by people who will be his guests on Tuesday when he delivers his annual State of the Union Address.

Obama notes that 2014 was the fastest year for job growth since the 1990s, and points to an unemployment rate that fell faster than any year since 1984.

“Our job now is to make sure that every American feels that they’re a part of our country’s comeback,” Obama said. “That’s what I’ll focus on in my State of the Union – how to build on our momentum, with rising wages, growing incomes, and a stronger middle class.”

Obama also said he hopes the new Congress will join him in “putting aside the political games” and finding areas to work together in 2015.

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Hi, everybody. Every day, we get thousands of letters and emails at the White House from Americans across the country – and every night, I read ten of them. They tell me about their hopes and their worries, their hardships and successes. They’re the Americans I’m working for every day – and this year, several of these letter writers will join me at the Capitol when I deliver my annual State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.

Carolyn Reed wrote to me from Colorado to tell me she was able to expand her business, thanks to a loan from the Small Business Administration. Today, she and her husband own seven Silver Mine Sub Shops – and last year, they raised wages for all their hourly employees.

Victor Fugate, from Butler, Missouri, wrote to tell me that he was unemployed for a while a few years ago, but today he’s earned his degree and found a full-time job. Victor said that he and his wife were able to afford their student loans because our country offered millions of Americans the chance to cap their monthly payments as a percentage of their income – and, because of the Affordable Care Act, they now have the security and peace of mind of affordable health insurance.

While serving in Afghanistan, Jason Gibson was gravely wounded—he lost both his legs. When I first met him in the hospital, he was just beginning his long, difficult road to recovery. But last year, Sergeant Gibson wrote to tell me that with the help of our extraordinary doctors and nurses, he’s making extraordinary progress. He just moved into a new home, and he and his wife just had a baby girl.

Stories like these give us reason to start the new year with confidence. 2014 was the fastest year for job growth since the 1990s. Unemployment fell faster than any year since 1984. Our combat mission in Afghanistan has come to a responsible end, and more of our heroes are coming home. America’s resurgence is real.

“Our job now is to make sure that every American feels that they’re a part of our country’s comeback. That’s what I’ll focus on in my State of the Union – how to build on our momentum, with rising wages, growing incomes, and a stronger middle class. And I’ll call on this new Congress to join me in putting aside the political games and finding areas where we agree so we can deliver for the American people.

The last six years have demanded resilience and sacrifice from all of us. All of us have a right to be proud of the progress America has made. And I hope you’ll tune in on Tuesday to hear about the steps we can take to build on this progress, and to seize this moment together.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.

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Oklahoma State Senate(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s Republican Address, Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma spoke of the opportunities the new Congress has in advance of President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

Russell examines issues such as regulation of the energy sector, immigration, and previous actions by the House of Representatives to support building the Keystone XL pipeline.

He says, “Our new Congress has a great opportunity: to restore Constitutional government and place the American people and their priorities first.”

Russell also says that action on immigration should come through Congress, not through the executive actions undertaken by President Obama.

Russell is a new member of the House of Representatives from Oklahoma’s Fifth District.

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Good morning. I’m Steve Russell, a new member of the House of Representatives from Oklahoma’s Fifth District.

Our new Congress has a great opportunity: to restore Constitutional government and place the American people and their priorities first.

As lawmakers, we must never forget that our government was designed to derive its power from the consent of the people.

Sadly, we’ve seen Washington ignore your concerns about the economy, spending, jobs and making our nation secure.

Republicans and Democrats both care, but we hold different views about the ability of the people to make a bright future or whether the government should stand in your way and define that future for you.

As Americans, we have not lost our capacity for greatness. We can still overcome the odds.

Take the President’s regulations and obstruction of our energy sector: we have seen hard-working Americans innovate and transform our economy only to have the president try and take credit for it.

We have seen Americans families work together in their communities to make ends meet paycheck to paycheck even while our volunteer armed forces sacrifice to keep us safe in a dangerous and shifting world.

Despite it all, deep in our hearts, Americans still want America to be great. We still are.

I, like you, refuse to give up on this great country. I’m joined by a wave of colleagues that you sent to Congress who believe the same thing.

We have the resources to transform our economy, the talents to work together to solve our problems, and the grit to lead in a dangerous world that looks to us for hope and stability—an American beacon that still shines when others only provide a dim view of the future.

With your inspiration, this new Congress is hard at work. Here are four things the House has already voted to do:

  • Lift the burden on small businesses so they can hire more of our veterans without penalties;
  • Repeal ObamaCare’s absurd 30-hour work-week definition so we can get people working again full-time;
  • Build the Keystone XL pipeline, with its more than 42,000 American jobs and safe energy for our children’s future, friends and allies;
  • Force bureaucratic agencies to regulate with more honesty, thrift and transparency.

These measures are only the beginning.

Now President Obama doesn’t agree with our direction, the one that you, the voters, asked us to take, and he has threatened to block your progress. But we challenge him to listen to the people instead of standing in the way of your future.

As we take these steps, we must do it with the guidance and principles that founded our nation. You don’t build a building without a blueprint. You don’t chart your future by taking shortcuts but rather do it with fairness and unity.

That’s why the House voted to stop the president’s unilateral action on immigration. It’s not about opportunity, it is about the Constitution and being fair to those legal immigrants who follow the law.

On at least 22 separate occasions, the president said he did not have the authority to do what he did, and we are holding him to his word.

Every time the president makes the playing field uneven and unfair, he tramples on the opportunity for all Americans.

We can and will find solutions to immigration and will be happy to do it, but they will be your solutions through the Congress, not unfair executive actions

As we look to the future, let us do it together. We have heard your voice, and now we need your support. Together, we can get it done.

Thanks for listening. Say a prayer for those protecting us and may God bless this great Republic.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court said on Friday it will decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry under the Constitution.

The justices have put off a decision to take up a same-sex marriage case since the current term began in October.

Now, argely because of the court’s decision to stay out in October, 36 states allow gay marriage. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 70 percent of Americans live in states that allow gay marriage.

There is now a split among appellate courts, which caused the justices on Friday to take up the issue, with arguments beginning in April. The court will hear cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky.

A final decision on the constitutionality of same sex marriage bans is expected by the end of June.

The Michigan case was brought by nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse who appeared Friday at a news conference with their attorneys including Dana Nessel. Nessel said that in historical context the marriage equality issue is moving very quickly except for those directly impacted.

“If you are a person that is affected by these laws that discriminate against same sex couples and their families, if you are April and Jayne and their children this cannot possibly come soon enough,” said Nessel.

Rowse said she and April were looking forward to their day at the court.

“It’s overwhelming. That’s what I’m going to say. This is just so overwhelming and we’re incredibly grateful,” she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court said on Friday it will decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry under the Constitution.

The justices have put off a decision to take up a same-sex marriage case since the current term began in October.

Now, argely because of the court’s decision to stay out in October, 36 states allow gay marriage. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 70 percent of Americans live in states that allow gay marriage.

There is now a split among appellate courts, which caused the justices on Friday to take up the issue, with arguments beginning in April. The court will hear cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky.

A final decision on the constitutionality of same sex marriage bans is expected by the end of June.

The Michigan case was brought by nurses April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse who appeared Friday at a news conference with their attorneys including Dana Nessel. Nessel said that in historical context the marriage equality issue is moving very quickly except for those directly impacted.

“If you are a person that is affected by these laws that discriminate against same sex couples and their families, if you are April and Jayne and their children this cannot possibly come soon enough,” said Nessel.

Rowse said she and April were looking forward to their day at the court.

“It’s overwhelming. That’s what I’m going to say. This is just so overwhelming and we’re incredibly grateful,” she said.

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ABC/Donna Svennevik(SAN DIEGO) — When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was pressed by the media to comment on Mitt Romney, who will be addressing the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting on Friday, his response was short, but said it all about the perception of Romney among the assembled GOP establishment.

“Good man,” Walker said.

That reflected the views of many state GOP leaders ABC News spoke with at the two-day confab in sunny Coronado, California – many of them responded with polite characterizations of the former Massachusetts governor who is contemplating a third presidential bid – but with no enthusiasm and in some cases, a clear sense of exasperation that the nominee who failed to win the White House in 2012 should just step aside and give the party mantle to someone else.

“Mitt Romney is an exceptional man with great experience, but I think there’s a lot of other Republican candidates that are putting their names forward,” Ryan Call, the Colorado Republican Party Chairman, said. “I think a lot of folks here on the committee as well as throughout the country are all wanting to see how the other horses get out the gate before running too quickly to one camp or the other.”

South Carolina Republican Party chairman Matt Moore said he’d want to ask Romney’s camp, “What’s changed? Can you make a convincing case that not only is the nomination winnable, but is the election winnable? And if it’s not, maybe there are others who may be better choices.”

But like many party leaders did, Moore added almost reflexively, “He’s a wonderful man and a good leader for the Republican party.”

Steve Munisteri, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, avoided commenting on Romney’s merits by deferring to his status as the party leader in a state with so many possible presidential contenders.

“In Texas, we have several Texans running for president: Governor Perry, Senator Cruz, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, all from Texas – Rick Santorum has his offices there. No disrespect for Governor Romney but he would not be a frontrunner in our state,” he said.

And Mary Buestrin, the National Committeewoman from Wisconsin, had to clarify her remarks – in which she called Romney “an honorable man and qualified to run for president” – to say she was in fact enthusiastic about a potential third bid.

“Oh, I didn’t mean it that way. I’ve got so many things on my mind right now,” she told ABC News. “The more the merrier is the way I feel. So I hope my enthusiasm shows through. It was a late night last night,” she added, laughing.

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ABC/ DONNA SVENNEVIK(WASHINGTON) – In the midst of a press conference on Friday regarding the topics of sanctions in Iran and the ongoing terror threat in Europe, President Obama was asked a question on the 2016 general election.

The question from ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked the president his quick reaction to Mitt Romney’s widely reported consideration of another run in 2016.

“I have no comment,” Obama told Karl with a smile, before swiftly moving on.

Romney is set to speak on Friday from a podium aboard the USS Midway in San Diego as part of the Republican National Committee festivities there.

The speech will be his Romney’s major public appearance – certainly before party leadership – since telling donors privately last week that he is serious about possibly running again.

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