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Obama agenda: Confidence

“In the face of strong opposition from members of his own party, President Obama says that he's confident lawmakers will eventually approve a tax cut deal he negotiated with congressional Republicans,” NPR writes of its interview with the president. Obama said, "Nobody -- Democrat or Republican -- wants to see people's paychecks smaller on Jan. 1 because Congress didn't act." Here’s the full transcript.

President Obama also made mention of reforming the tax code in the NPR interview. And here’s today’s New York Times: “President Obama is considering whether to push early next year for an overhaul of the income tax code to lower rates and raise revenues in what would be his first major effort to begin addressing the long-term growth of the national debt.”

Lots of commentary today on the tax deal. Paul Krugman criticizes it. “I’ve spent the past couple of days trying to make my peace with the Obama-McConnell tax-cut deal. President Obama did, after all, extract more concessions than most of us expected. Yet I remain deeply uneasy — not because I’m one of those “purists” Mr. Obama denounced on Tuesday but because this isn’t the end of the story. Specifically: Mr. Obama has bought the release of some hostages only by providing the G.O.P. with new hostages.”

David Brooks likes it. “The fact is, Obama and the Democrats have had an excellent week. The White House negotiators did an outstanding job for their side. With little leverage, they got not only the unemployment insurance, but also an Earned Income Tax Credit provision, a college scholarship provision and other Democratic goodies. With little leverage, they got a package that could win grudging praise from big-name liberal groups like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Center for American Progress. Moreover, Obama has put himself in a position to govern again.”

Charles Krauthammer also believes the Dems got a good deal – in fact, he believes Obama bested the GOP. “Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 - and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years - which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. This is a defeat?”

National Journal’s Ron Brownstein writes that the tax deal is only Act 1 for Obama. “But more stimulus, while necessary as the economy continues to sputter, isn’t a sufficient strategy for long-term growth. Act 2 must include a serious effort to tame exploding federal deficits and debt, while reorienting both the tax code and Washington’s spending priorities from consumption to investment. This week’s deal ought to be measured not only on its immediate economic impact but on whether it makes such fundamental reform more likely.”