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Obama agenda: Hoyer's call

The New York Times says “a hefty portion of the $858 billion tax package will benefit middle- and upper-middle-income Americans — precisely the demographic that felt neglected the last two years as the White House and Congress focused on the major health care law and on helping the unemployed and people facing foreclosure. These new tax breaks are in addition to the cuts Mr. Obama had always planned to maintain on all but the highest incomes, and they could pay big political dividends to Mr. Obama and other Democrats in 2012 — a point that the president and some senior advisers are counting on, and one reason that they were willing to give in to Republican demands to extend all Bush-era tax rates.”

“President Barack Obama's approval ratings have sunk to the lowest level of his presidency, so low that he'd lose the White House to Republican Mitt Romney if the election were held today, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll,” McClatchy’s Thomma writes. “The biggest reason for Obama's fall: a sharp drop in approval among Democrats and liberals, apparently unhappy with his moves toward the center since he led the party to landslide losses in November's midterm elections. At the same time, he's gained nothing among independents.” Obama’s approval is just 42%/50%. He loses to Romney 46%-44%, beats Huckabee 47%-43%, handily beats Sarah Palin 52%-40%.

“House Republicans don’t take power for another three weeks, but the White House is already engaged in a behind-the-scenes charm offensive designed to build relationships with incoming committee chairmen before they become powerful adversaries,” Politico writes. “The GOP chairmen are getting congratulatory phone calls from President Barack Obama, and private meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder.”

“A Virginia federal judge is expected to issue a decision on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law Monday, a court employee confirmed to The Hill late Friday afternoon.”

“Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, underwent more surgery yesterday to fix a tear in the large artery that moves blood from the heart, the State Department said. The operation came after 20 hours of surgery that ended Saturday,” the Boston Globe writes.