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Obama agenda: A new 'Grand Bargain?'

The economy and Mideast peace… substance is breaking out all over…

“President Barack Obama is extending a new proposal to Republicans that he hopes will break the political gridlock on budget negotiations, offering to cut corporate tax rates in exchange for job investments,” the AP writes. “White House officials say just because they’re at an impasse with congressional Republicans over a grand bargain on reducing the deficit doesn’t mean they shouldn’t look for other areas of agreement. So Obama plans to use a trip to an distribution center in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Tuesday to propose a ‘grand bargain for middle-class jobs.’”

“The first Middle East peace talks in years are underway a few blocks from the White House, but President Barack Obama is conspicuously keeping his distance,” the AP adds. “Burned by a failed peace effort in his first term, Obama has largely ceded this latest attempt to forge an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians to Secretary of State John Kerry. The move marks a rare power shift for an administration that prefers to centralize foreign policy decisions within the White House. Obama’s hands-off approach is in part a vote of confidence in Kerry, who has embraced the vexing and emotional issue with gusto since joining the administration earlier this year. It also signals a calculation by the White House that direct presidential intervention is best reserved for the final stages of negotiations — if the process ever reaches that point — or for moments of tension when Obama might be called upon to keep the talks afloat.”

Michael Hirsch on the prospects for peace: “This latest effort to get two hostile peoples to divide up the same dot on the map somehow recalls the line from Julius Caesar: ‘How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over, in states unborn and accents yet unknown?’ The accents are still the same; the state is still unborn; and the chances for success still seem as meager. But it is true that a great deal else has changed. On the positive side, the talks are being pushed hard by Secretary of State John Kerry, who passionately wants to leave a diplomatic legacy, and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni, whose entire political career has been built around her fervent belief that time is running out and a two-state solution is critical to Israel's survival. Hamas, the chief obstacle to peace in the past, is a weaker relative to Fatah (the Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank while Hamas oversees Gaza) thanks to the recent ouster of Hamas's chief ally, former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. And perhaps there will be more room to negotiate an interim solution, because the very concept of statehood is becoming somewhat more elastic in the region, given the post-Arab Spring stresses and strains tearing at the center of countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.”

The New York Timesbacks Janet Yellen for Fed chair. 

USA Today: “President Obama told civil rights leaders Monday his administration would work to strengthen the Voting Rights Act in light of a Supreme Court decision striking down a key provision. After a White House meeting with more than a dozen attorneys, state lawmakers, and civil rights activists, Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted that the administration wants ‘to ensure every eligible American has the right to vote.’”

National Journal: “The Senate on Monday confirmed President Obama’s nominee to head the FBI on a 93-1 vote, with two senators voting present, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, negotiated an agreement to forgo an expected cloture vote. James Comey will succeed Robert Mueller, overcoming a hold by libertarian Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who raised questions about the bureau’s domestic use of unarmed drones. Opposition to the nomination fell apart when Paul dropped his hold, saying the FBI had answered his questions. Paul was the only senator to vote no; Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., voted present.”

USA Today: “As state health exchanges continue to announce lower-than-expected rates for health insurance, experts say both state and regional issues play a part in how much a consumer will pay for insurance beginning in January. Several factors come into play: a state's regulations, how many insurers will participate in the state and federal exchanges, and what kind of a risk those insurers are willing to take.”

Amy Walter has a must-read piece on the problem with stories and people like Anthony Weiner and what’s wrong with TV news when it comes to covering politics.

NBC’s Jessica Taylor contributed.