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Obama agenda: Grand Bargain by July?

The Hill: President Obama wants to complete a grand bargain to reduce the deficit by the end of July, an aggressive timeline coinciding with the expiration of the nation’s debt limit. Obama told a small group of Republican senators who had dinner with him Wednesday evening that a deficit-reduction deal needs to happen in the next four to five months, according to three sources familiar with the meeting.”

Taking a look at some of Obama's declining poll numbers, Charlie Cook concludes that the sequester battle hurt all sides. “[T]he widespread assumption that sequestration will produce no winners, only losers, will probably turn out to be accurate.”

“President Barack Obama is playing down expectations for a Mideast peace breakthrough during his upcoming trip to Israel, telling American Jewish leaders that he won’t be carrying a “grand peace plan” when he arrives in the region later this month,” the AP reports. “Obama, in an hourlong private meeting at the White House on Thursday, acknowledged that near-term prospects for peace are bleak, according to a person who attended the discussion. But the president said a deal with the Palestinians remains the only way for Israel to achieve long-term security. Israel’s political climate makes the prospects for jumpstarting peace talks all the more unlikely during Obama’s trip. Elections in January weakened Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who since then has struggled to form a coalition government.”

Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act, now says it’s time to overturn it

“President Obama is sending a lawmaker whose relationship with Hugo Chavez has come under scrutiny in the past to represent the United States at the Venezuelan strongman's funeral on Friday,” The Hill writes. “Rep. Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.) allegedly met with Chavez in 2006 at the bequest of one of his donors, indicted Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford, to request a criminal probe into a Venezuelan banker who had fallen out with Stanford, The Miami Herald reported in 2009. The banker, Gonzalo Tirado, was charged with tax evasion and theft a year after the meeting with Meeks. Meeks said at the time that the trip was aimed at thanking Chavez for providing heating oil for poor Americans through Citgo, a subsidiary of the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela.”