Obama bill signng heralds new balance of power

WASHINGTON (AP) — Displaying a new style of compromising, President Barack Obama invited Democrats and Republicans alike to the White House today for the signing of a massive tax package that frayed his relations with liberals, caused him to abandon a pledge not to extend tax cuts to the rich and heralded a new balance of power in the capital.

The package retains Bush-era tax rates for all taxpayers, offers 13 months of extended unemployment benefits to the jobless and attempts to stimulate the economy with a payroll tax cut for all workers.

The agreement, struck 10 days ago between the White House and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, was more bipartisan than the signing ceremony, however. Only five Republicans, including McConnell, were scheduled to be at the White House, compared to 19 Democrats.

At a cost of $858 billion over two years, the deal contains provisions for both Democrats and Republicans. It represents the most money that Obama is likely to be able to dedicate over the next year to a slowly recovering economy, but it also increases the deficit at a time when the country is growing increasingly anxious about the red ink.