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Obama agenda: No more Mr. Nice Guy

It's No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Covering his deficit-reduction speech from yesterday, the New York Times says that Obama “entered a new, more combative phase of his presidency, one likely to last until next year’s election as he battles for a second term… Mr. Obama did not just propose but insisted that any long-term debt-reduction plan must not shave future Medicare benefits without also raising taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers and corporations. He uncharacteristically backed up that stand with a veto threat, setting up a politically charged choice for anti-tax Republicans — protect the most affluent or compromise to attack deficits.”

Among centrist Democrats, Politico finds tepid enthusiasm for Obama’s deficit-reduction plan -- but not outright rejection.

The Wall Street Journal: “Republican leaders said that Mr. Obama's inclusion of $1.5 trillion in tax increases in his deficit-reduction plan was a bad idea both politically and economically. ‘Veto threats, a massive tax hike, phantom savings and punting on entitlement reform is not a recipe for economic or job growth, or even meaningful deficit reduction,’ said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.).”

Bloomberg News adds, “President Barack Obama set aside his stance as compromiser-in-chief to champion the populist cause of ‘fairness’ for the middle class in the struggle over how to bring down the nation’s budget deficit.”

The New York Daily News’ headline on Obama: “Enough mister-nice-President!”

Ross Baker, political scientist at Rutgers, told NPR: “At some point he was going to have to put away the olive branch and unsheathe the sword. I guess this is it.”

The Boston Globe’s editorial page lends Obama support: “Republican intransigence has all but obliged Obama to confront what’s really going on: The fundamentals of the economy have changed in ways that further enrich millionaires, and the tax system should respond accordingly.”

The Washington Post says that Obama's call yesterday to tax the rich is a replay of an old Washington debate. “Democrats remember when Franklin D. Roosevelt and Bill Clinton won their fights to make the wealthy pay more. Republicans remember when Ronald Reagan won his battle, seeking economic recovery by having the wealthy pay less.”

“After years of debate and months of final preparations, the military can no longer prevent gays from serving openly in its ranks,” the AP says. “Repeal of a 1993 law that allowed gays to serve only so long as they kept their sexual orientation private took effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. EDT.”

The Washington Post adds, “Enlistees who tell military recruiters, or troops discharged under the ban who are eager to reenlist, will be eligible to join up if they are qualified. And the Defense Department says it will have zero tolerance for anti-gay behavior, as it does for religious, racial and gender discrimination.”