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Obama agenda: Ending Age of Reagan?

President Obama will "sign an executive order Wednesday reaffirming long-standing restrictions on federal funding of abortion." 

The Washington Post on Obama signing the health-care law into legislation yesterday: "Rich with symbolism and ceremony, the White House event provided clues about how the administration plans to sell the measure to a skeptical public: as a moral necessity of historic proportion. Obama told his audience of allies that 'we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations.' But his central challenge remains convincing an anxious nation that it can afford to help all, even at a time of rising debt, high unemployment and two distant wars. In a 10-minute speech interrupted more than 20 times by ovations, Obama suggested that those Republicans and Democrats who opposed the measure sit now on the wrong side of history. But Republicans have promised to defeat his argument at the ballot box in November and take back those swing-district seats that Obama's once-towering popularity turned Democratic in 2008." 

"[E]ven as hundreds of supporters snapped photographs and savored the climactic moment in the East Room of the White House, Senate Republicans were working to undermine the effort on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue," the Boston Globe writes.

The New York Times' Leonhardt sees the reform as an effort to tackle income inequality. "For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government's biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago. Over most of that period, government policy and market forces have been moving in the same direction, both increasing inequality. The pretax incomes of the wealthy have soared since the late 1970s, while their tax rates have fallen more than rates for the middle class and poor."

"Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform's effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan." 

"More Americans now favor than oppose the health care overhaul that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds -- a notable turnaround from surveys before the vote that showed a plurality against the legislation. By 49%-40%, those polled say it was "a good thing" rather than a bad one that Congress passed the bill. Half describe their reaction in positive terms -- as 'enthusiastic' or 'pleased' -- while about four in 10 describe it in negative ways, as 'disappointed' or 'angry.'" 

(Caveat: That poll was just a one-day poll.)

The Boston Globe's Lehigh: "As Vice President Joe Biden was caught whispering to his boss, 'This is a big f***ing deal.' Yes indeed… But though Democrats have won the immediate legislative struggle, they haven't yet prevailed in the larger war for national opinion. With the Tea Partiers fuming with anti-government fury, conservative state officials thumping hoary states' rights tubs, Republican congressfolk and presidential hopefuls vowing repeal, and former GOP standard-bearer John McCain threatening an extended senatorial sulk, the public battle promises to rage on. To win the broader victory needed to secure the law, Democrats need to wage a full-scale persuasion campaign. That means repeatedly reminding people of the protections and benefits the new law will bring them."

The New York Post: "Biden #%@s up historic day."

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had a lengthy meeting at the White House last night. "In a break with custom that seemed linked to the crisis complicating U.S.-Israel relations, reporters were not invited to see them shake hands and begin their talks," the AP writes. "It is highly unusual for a visiting ally not to be seen with the president, either for photographs or statements." More: "Obama and Netanyahu initially conferred for about 90 minutes in the Oval Office -- a half-hour longer than scheduled. After that meeting, Obama retired to the residence while Netanyahu stayed behind in the White House to consult with his staff in the Roosevelt Room, a White House official said late Tuesday. Netanyahu then asked for a second meeting with Obama, who came back downstairs to the Oval Office for another 35 minutes of talks with the prime minister, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic issue."