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Obama agenda: Rejected!

Obama sits down for his first TV interview since the election with Bloomberg News at 12:30 pm ET.

The White House responded to the GOP counteroffer by saying the plan "does not meet the test of balance,” USA Today writes. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer: “In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve. Independent analysts who have looked at plans like this one have concluded that middle class taxes will have to go up to pay for lower rates for millionaires and billionaires."

USA Today: “President Obama and Senate Democrats have said that without a deal to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans there is no path forward to avert the fiscal cliff at the end of the year when George W. Bush-era tax rates expire and $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years are triggered.”

“As the White House and congressional Republicans try to keep the nation from going over the so-called fiscal cliff, a new survey finds that the public is amenable to raising taxes on wealthier Americans and as averse as ever to cutting entitlement programs,” National Journal writes. “The results are found in the latest edition of the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, which tracks public opinion about important issues facing Congress. On the contentious question of whether the Senate should approve the nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice if President Obama picks her to be secretary of State, a slim majority of respondents—51 percent—favored her approval, while 35 percent said that her nomination should be rejected if it’s put before the Senate.”

USA Today: “President Obama is looking for new allies in the fiscal cliff fight, meeting Tuesday with a group of six governors at the White House.” More: “The president's guests include three Republican governors -- one of them Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose battles with public employee unions made headlines throughout the recent election season. Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., chairman of the National Governors Association, will also be in the meeting with Obama. So will the NGA Vice Chair, Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Okl. The other attendees: Gov. Mike Beebe, D-Ark., Gov. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., and Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah.”

Charlie Cook: “This whole process is going to be long, difficult, frustrating, and painful. Moods will rise and fall, and my guess is that the financial markets may well have some pretty exciting days, in the same ways that roller coasters are alternately exhilarating and terrifying. My hunch is that some kind of stopgap deal will be done to either head off sequestration or control it so that the across-the-board federal spending cuts to defense and domestic programs (except Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a few others) will not automatically kick in. That will enable reaching a bigger agreement early next year. It would not surprise me to see the full array of Bush tax cuts expire on Dec. 31, only increasing the pressure on Republicans to cut some kind of a deal that they would have previously considered unacceptable. We will likely see a series of budget deals, each hard fought, gradually taking in more elements until a “grand bargain” is finally reached.”

More: “While, technically speaking, November’s election produced no changes in leadership—the White House and Senate are still in Democratic hands, and the House is still under GOP control—the zeitgeist seems very different. The testosterone levels on the Republican side are dramatically lower than two years or, for that matter, two months ago. Although it is not unfair for Republicans to see last week’s opening offer from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as little short of an insult, one gets the sense that Democrats know they will end up with a deal that looks nothing like that.”

The contentious issues are not just on the domestic front. “President Obama warned Syrian dictator Bashar Assad on Monday that the use of chemical weapons is ‘totally unacceptable,’ and he will be punished if they are deployed against rebel forces,” USA Today writes. “‘The world is watching,’ Obama said of Assad during a Washington symposium on nuclear non-proliferation. ‘If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable.’ He added: ‘We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century.’”

Immigration on deck… “President Barack Obama won reelection with overwhelming support from Hispanics — and now Latino megadonors aligned with the White House are trying to mobilize that community behind his second-term agenda,” Politico reports, adding, “Led by a trio of top fundraisers that includes actress Eva Longoria, the effort comes out of The Futuro Fund, a national initiative of Latino leaders who helped reelect Obama. Organizers are aiming to marshal the support of the thousands of Hispanics it galvanized during the campaign to create a robust online and social media presence that can pressure Congress into acting on immigration reform. But it could cause friction with more traditional Hispanic civil rights groups, like the League of United Latin American Citizens and National Council of La Raza, that have spent decades lobbying for an overhaul of the country’s immigration laws. It could also spell trouble for Republicans looking to make inroads with Hispanics after their electoral drubbing.”