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Obama agenda: Inching along

“President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner were struggling late Tuesday to prevent negotiations from breaking down after they traded dueling proposals for averting the year-end ‘fiscal cliff’ that made no progress toward an agreement,” the Washington Post writes. “Obama telephoned Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday, hours after receiving the speaker’s latest proposal for a deal on taxes and spending. The offer was virtually identical to the document Obama summarily rejected just one week ago, according to Republican aides. Obama’s chief negotiator, Rob Nabors, later rushed to the Capitol to meet with Boehner’s top aides.”

Obama told ABC: "I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals. I don't think they'll do that… I remain optimistic. I'd like to see a big package. But the most important thing we can do is make sure that middle class taxes do not go up on Jan. 1." He added, “The outlines, the framework of what a deal should look like are pretty straightforward."

More: "If the Republicans can move on that [taxes] then we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side. Taxes are going to go up one way or another. And I think the key is that taxes go up on high-end individuals." He also left on the table the possibility of changes to Social Security and Medicare.

Republicans say they’re waiting for Obama to outline specific spending cuts. The White House says its waiting for Republicans to submit a deal that includes raising tax rates on the wealthiest.

Voters are split, 47%/46% on how Obama’s handling the fiscal cliff negotiations in a new Washington Post/ABC poll, but voters overwhelmingly disapprove of how Speaker John Boehner’s handling them -- 24% approve/54% disapprove.

Bloomberg: “President Barack Obama won the public argument over taxes so decisively that almost half of Republicans now say he has an election mandate to raise rates on the rich. Majorities of about 2-to-1 also read the election results as an endorsement of Obama’s pledge to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits, according to a Bloomberg National Poll of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 7-10.”

Obama’s job approval is 53% in the poll, his highest since December 2009.

How much confusion is out there? Just look at these two headlines:

AP: “Fiscal cliff talks appear to be stalled.”

The Hill: “Both sides edging toward deal in deficit-reduction negotiations.”

Joe Biden pens an op-ed in the Kansas City Star on the need to extend the tax cuts for 98%.

Treasury is selling its shares of AIG bringing the government’s profit on the financial bailout to $22.7 billion.

Here’s the Obama administration’s PSA on housing.

Jimmy Carter thinks pot legalization is “OK.”

Obama’s special envoy to Sudan is stepping down.

The inaccurate quote on the MLK memorial will be removed.