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Obama agenda: Emboldened

The New York Times: "With the Senate scheduled to begin debate on a financial overhaul bill this week, the fraud suit against the Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs has emboldened Democrats to ratchet up pressure on Republicans who oppose the Obama administration's proposal."

The paper also examines the Obama-vs.-McConnell debate over the legislation. "In a televised appearance on Sunday, Mr. McConnell asserted that Mr. Obama was 'trying to politicize this issue,' and stoutly defended his argument in recent days that the Democratic bill would institutionalize taxpayer bailouts of big banks. On Saturday, Mr. Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to denounce Mr. McConnell's claim as 'cynical and deceptive' because 'he knows that it would do just the opposite.'" 

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is meeting with Sen. Susan Collins (R) on financial reform today.

The Washington Post: "The White House hasn't announced it yet, but look for the president to make a fresh push for what the West Wing now terms 'Wall Street Reform' during the week ahead. Two insiders suggest that the president will travel domestically to make his latest pitch, though just where he will go has not yet been announced."

The Hill previews Obama's trip to Los Angeles today to raise money for Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic National Committee: "It will be Obama's first visit to Los Angeles since last May, when he spoke at a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton that reportedly brought in some $3 million for the DNC."

"Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran's steady progress toward nuclear capability, according to government officials familiar with the document," the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Gates released this statement yesterday: "The New York Times sources who revealed my January memo to the National Security Advisor mischaracterized its purpose and content. With the Administration's pivot to a pressure track on Iran earlier this year, the memo identified next steps in our defense planning process where further interagency discussion and policy decisions would be needed in the months and weeks ahead. The memo was not intended as a 'wake up call' or received as such by the President's national security team. Rather, it presented a number of questions and proposals intended to contribute to an orderly and timely decision making process.  There should be no confusion by our allies and adversaries that the United States is properly and energetically focused on this question and prepared to act across a board range of contingencies in support of our interests."

"Public confidence in government is at one of the lowest points in a half century, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans say they don't trust the federal government and have little faith it can solve America's ills, the survey found." 
 
And independents in that survey say they are voting Republican this fall by a 41%-34% margin.

"Several dozen self-proclaimed patriots, all of them armed, are ready to muster outside Washington, D.C., today," the AP writes. "They intend to make history as the first people to take their guns to a demonstration in a national park, and the Virginia rally will be held in sight of the Capitol, just a few miles from the White House. Daniel Almond, an Iraq War veteran and Georgia real estate agent, organized the rally because he is upset about health care, climate control, bank bailouts, drug laws, and what he sees as President Obama's insistence on and the Democratic Congress' capitulation to a totalitarian socialism that tramples individual rights."
 
Who is Almond? He's "a member of several little-known groups -- including Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Freedom, and Oath Keepers."