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Obama Agenda: Social Security, still the third rail?

Social Security reform is proving to be a contentious issue, even within the president's own team. The Hill: "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Sperling's deputy, Jason Furman -- leading figures in the president's economic team - are pressing Obama to cut Social Security benefits if necessary, say sources familiar with their positions. But Obama's political team, led by David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Jim Messina, are urging the president to understand that backing benefit cuts could prove disastrous to his 2012 reelection hopes, sources say."

Obama's call yesterday for an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act before summer's end could be fertile ground for compromise. Roll Call writes: "'There is definitely a real shot of getting this done,' by the summer, a senior House Democratic aide said." And "A senior Senate GOP aide said the fact that Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) is participating in the same talks as HELP ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is 'a good indicator that GOP leadership is open to moving a bill.'"

But Politico notes the bill's price tag is a major strike against it, and divisions in the Republican caucus could prove problematic for reform advocates.

The New York Times' editorial page: "The unfolding Japanese tragedy also should prompt Americans to closely study our own plans for coping with natural disasters and with potential nuclear plant accidents to make sure they are, indeed, strong enough."