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Obama agenda: Talking energy

The New York Times front-pages, "President Obama on Sunday praised the energy bill passed by the House late last week as an 'extraordinary first step,' but he spoke out against a provision that would impose trade penalties on countries that do not accept limits on global warming pollution. 'At a time when the economy worldwide is still deep in recession and we've seen a significant drop in global trade,' Mr. Obama said, 'I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there.' He added, 'I think there may be other ways of doing it than with a tariff approach.'"

The Washington Post: "In an interview with a small group of energy reporters in the Oval Office, Obama had few other criticisms as he savored last week's narrow victory in the House on one of his top domestic priorities: a climate bill designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency."

Video: While critics say the new system will lead to higher energy costs, President Barack Obama used his weekly Web address to implore the Senate to follow the House's lead.

The Boston Globe called the House's passage of the energy bill late Friday, "a big political victory" for President Obama.

The AP on the energy legislation: "Facing a rare defeat, President Barack Obama put a big dose of political capital on the line and scored a major victory just when he needed one."

"Obama used his weekly address to urge senators to back the measure. 'I want to congratulate the House for passing this bill, and I want to urge the Senate to take this opportunity to come together and meet our obligations - to our constituents, to our children, to God's creation and to future generations,' Obama said."

The president also appeared to give a pass to the Democrats who voted against the bill in the House. "The president, joined by Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House coordinator of energy and climate policy Carol Browner, said 'those 44 Democrats are sensitive to the immediate political climate of uncertainty around this issue,'" per The Hill. "They've got to run every two years, and I completely understand that."

Did David Axelrod hint that the president could end up breaking a pledge on not raising taxes on folks making less than $250,000? On ABC, "David Axelrod declined to repeat Obama's 'firm pledge' during the campaign that families making under $250,000 would not see 'any form of tax increase, not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.' Instead, Axelrod said the president has no interest in 'drawing lines in the sand' on the issue of how to pay for the costly health reform plan making its way through Congress. 'One of the problems we've had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don't get anything done,' Axelrod said. 'That's not the way the president approaches this.'"

Sasha Issenberg, writing for the Boston Globe: "The push for a major healthcare overhaul presents a significant test of the president's ability to harness grass-roots energy and convert it into governing power. Obama is counting on having his activists promote healthcare as a two-sided choice - either take urgent action now or lose the opportunity for a long time - even as congressional negotiators, and other interest groups, haggle over the policy specifics that drive the lawmaking process."

Video: Senior White House adviser David Axelrod discusses President Barack Obama's plan to reform the U.S. health care industry with NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press."

The administration continues not to draw a "line in the sand" on the public option. We've not gotten as far as we've gotten by drawing bright lines in the sand," David Axelrod said on Meet the Press.

The biggest story no one is focused on: tomorrow's deadline for U.S. troops to pullout of Iraq's major cities. "Whether Iraqis are really ready to defend their own population centers is among the most crucial questions this country faces as the United States pulls back in accordance with last year's Status of Forces Agreement en route to a total withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by the end of 2011. 'I do believe they're ready,' Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said Sunday on CNNs 'State of the Union.' 'They've been working towards this for a long time,' Gen. Odierno said. 'And security remains good. We've seen constant improvement in the security force; we've seen constant improvement in governance. And I believe this is the time for us to move out of the cities and for them to take ultimate responsibility.'"

Previewing Colombia President Uribe's meeting at the White House today, the Washington Post notes that the Obama administration -- unlike the previous one -- has concerns about Colombia's human-rights record. "Analysts say a new, more guarded approach toward Colombia is part of a wider policy designed to repair the tarnished relationships the Bush administration had in Latin America. The strategy hinges on showing that the United States is not solely preoccupied with Colombia, Washington's closest ally in Latin America this decade. Uribe is a conservative, openly pro-American leader in a region marked by leftist presidents. 'The way the Bush administration left it was that Colombia and maybe El Salvador were the only significant friends we had left -- the only two who would work with us on everything, unconditionally,' said Adam Isacson, a Colombia analyst at the Center for International Policy in Washington."