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Obama agenda: Not playing games

Obama on the debt ceiling being used in the fiscal cliff negotiations: "I will not play that game. Because we've got to break that habit before it starts."

President Obama and Speaker Boehner spoke yesterday afternoon. “A Boehner spokesman would not give any further information on the call,” The Hill writes.

CNBC: “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geither told CNBC Wednesday that Republicans are ‘making a little bit of progress’ in ‘fiscal cliff’ talks but said the Obama administration was ‘absolutely’ ready to go over the cliff if the GOP doesn't agree to raise tax rates on the wealthy. ‘I think they're making a little bit of progress,’ Geithner said. ‘They're clearly moving and figuring out how to try to move further.’”

Asked if Republicans didn’t agree to raise rates, would the administration be willing to go over the fiscal cliff, Geithner said, “Oh, absolutely. There’s not prospect to an agreement that doesn’t involve those rates going up on the top 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans.”

President Obama gets a 53% approval rating in the latest Quinnipiac poll, his best score in three years.

Voters don’t trust that Republicans will negotiate good faith: By 56-38%, voters say “Obama and congressional Democrats will make a good faith effort to cooperate with congressional Republicans on important issues. By 51 - 43 percent, voters say congressional Republicans will not act in good faith.”

Crossroads GPS is up with a week-long, national cable ad buy hitting Obama on the fiscal cliff.

“A business group considered friendly to President Obama has been granted high-level access to senior White House officials as “fiscal cliff” negotiations have gripped Washington,” The Hill reports. “Business Forward on Thursday will host the last in a series of seven briefings where high-level Obama administration officials have discussed the budgets cuts and tax increases of the fiscal cliff with business executives.”

“Whomever President Barack Obama taps to replace Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is likely to face tough questioning from senators in both parties on the $16 trillion debt, Chinese currency issues and bank regulations, to name just a few topics,” Roll Call writes. “But the good news for Obama is that the man rumored to be his top pick — current White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew — is likely to be easily confirmed, regardless.”

NBC’s Atia Abawi: “Afghan President Hamid Karzai sharply criticized the United States in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Thursday, blaming American and NATO forces for some of the growing insecurity in his country. ‘Part of the insecurity is coming to us from the structures that NATO and America created in Afghanistan,’ Karzai said during a one-on-one interview at the presidential palace. However, he also acknowledged that much of the country's violence was caused by insurgent groups.”

MSNBC’s Michael LaRosa: “Last summer President Obama made history by announcing his support for gay marriage. Now the LGBT is looking for the next step: appointing an openly gay person to a cabinet post. There are two LGBT candidates that the gay community touts for high level office”: John Berry (currently the Director of the Office of Personnel Management) and Fred Hochberg (chairman of the Export-Import Bank).

“The top U.S. and Russian diplomats will hold a surprise meeting Thursday with the United Nations' peace envoy for Syria, signaling fresh hopes of an international breakthrough to end the Arab country's 21-month civil war,” USA Today writes.