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Can Obama win back liberals with his new attack on the GOP?

For months, President Obama heard grumbling from his left. Now he seems to have taken off the gloves – rhetorically, at least – going after Republicans and laying out a more progressive vision.

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Then he laid out his own vision – one distinctly different from his opponents’ in the Republican-controlled House, especially its tea party wing. For one thing, he stated flatly that he would not again let the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy remain law – which means raising taxes.

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How did it play with his liberal base?

Columnist Krugman called it a “great relief” for progressives, “a reaffirmation of American compassion and community.”

"Americans will be very glad to hear that the President supports raising taxes on the rich,” said the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in a statement.

Still, Obama’s new-found political aggression – echoed in his Saturday radio address and sure to be heard in this coming week’s town hall meetings – is not enough for some on the left.

“With the richest 1 percent of Americans taking home a quarter of all income and facing the lowest tax rates in generations, we need to go much further to make sure millionaires and corporations pay their fair share, and Wall Street banks help clean up the mess they created,” said Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org.

And some commentators – including labor union leaders, who were only mildly approving of Obama’s speech – seemed to be summoning the ghost of FDR’s New Deal.

“At a time when House Republicans are talking up the notion of raising the retirement age to 70 and otherwise reducing benefits and imposing budgets on the elderly, the president is expressing a willingness to negotiate away a lot of what is social and secure about Social Security,” writes John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation. “That's unsettling.”

Obama has officially kicked off his reelection bid. His speech at George Washington University was part of that, as was his fund-raising event the other night with its open-mic blooper in which he snarkily had at House Republicans in general and Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan in particular.

There’ll be more of that as he works to solidify his base for one more “Yes We Can.”

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