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Obama agenda: A fast push on immigration

Sunday’s New York Times: “President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior administration officials and lawmakers said last week.”

More: “Mr. Obama is expected to lay out his plan in the coming weeks, perhaps in his State of the Union address early next month, administration officials said. The White House will argue that its solution for illegal immigrants is not an amnesty, as many critics insist, because it would include fines, the payment of back taxes and other hurdles for illegal immigrants who would obtain legal status, the officials said. The president’s plan would also impose nationwide verification of legal status for all newly hired workers; add visas to relieve backlogs and allow highly skilled immigrants to stay; and create some form of guest-worker program to bring in low-wage immigrants in the future.”

By the way, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villraiagosa will speak on immigration at the National Press Club at 1:00 pm ET.

Well, that’s that… Treasury spokesman Saturday: "Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit."

“In what could be a crucial moment in the Obama administration’s efforts to advance the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, he will meet this week with Senator Charles E. Schumer, the most influential Jewish member of the Senate, who is expected to press Mr. Hagel on issues concerning Iran and Israel,” the New York Times says.

The AP looks at the relationship between Obama and Israel’s Netanyahu, which one former American ambassador calls “troubled” and “the greatest dysfunction between leaders” that he’s seen. “Netanyahu likely will win re-election on Jan. 22, two days after Obama is sworn in for a second term,” the AP writes, adding, “A further complication is Obama’s nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.”

Gallup: “In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, and as Vice President Joe Biden leads a federal task force that will recommend ways to curb gun violence in the U.S., 38% of Americans are dissatisfied with the nation's gun laws and want them strengthened. This is up from 25% who held this set of views a year ago, and is the highest since 2001. Still, more Americans are either satisfied with current gun laws, 43%, or think they should be loosened, 5%.”

USA Today: “Vice President Biden, poised to propose new gun violence legislation this week, meets Monday morning with Democratic lawmakers who will consider the administration's plans.” Biden will deliver his recommendations to the president tomorrow.

The Washington Post: “Opposing forces in the debate over the nation’s gun laws staked out starkly different positions Sunday, with the head of the largest gun rights group declaring confidence that a ban on assault weapons would not win passage from lawmakers, while advocates of tightening restrictions on guns said such measures can be approved.”

The NRA says it has the support to block another assault-weapons ban. The group’s president: “You don’t want to bet your house on the outcome. But I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress.”

The New York Times goes to Colorado for the gun debate.

Funny… worth the read… the White House’s response to the petition to create a Death Star: “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For.”

There could be more health care mandate penalties – “mandate plus” – in the first two years because insurance companies fear there won’t be enough young, healthy people signing up for insurance when penalties are lower to offset those with preexisting conditions they already have to take on.

Michael Hirsch: “Despite the hopeful talk that came out of his summit in Washington with Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week, President Obama is in danger of losing control of south-central Asia entirely, sacrificing a decade’s worth of blood and treasure as he begins his second term. Most of the focus now is on how rapid the U.S. troop drawdown will be. But the bigger problem for Obama is the absence of a U.S. diplomatic vision for the region—and a diplomat to execute it.”

Transformational president? Perhaps… George Packer: “Every President elected between 1976 and 2004 was, by birth or by choice, a Southerner, except Ronald Reagan, who enjoyed a sort of honorary status. (When he began the 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, scene of the murder, in 1964, of three civil-rights workers, many Southerners heard it as a dog whistle.) A Southern accent, once thought quaint or even backward, became an emblem of American authenticity, a political trump card. It was a truism that no Democrat could win the White House unless he spoke with a drawl. Now the South is becoming isolated again. Every demographic and political trend that helped to reëlect Barack Obama runs counter to the region’s self-definition: the emergence of a younger, more diverse, more secular electorate, with a libertarian bias on social issues and immigration; the decline of the exurban life style, following the housing bust; the class politics, anathema to pro-business Southerners, that rose with the recession; the end of America’s protracted wars, with cuts in military spending bound to come. The Solid South speaks less and less for America and more and more for itself alone.”