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• Oversight of a $700 billion bailout program for troubled financial institutions that was started under Mr. Bush.

• Completion of the rescue of automakers General Motors and Chrysler.

The White House argues that Mr. Obama gets little credit for such an impressive run, accomplished with little or no Republican support.

Polls show widespread public skepticism toward the stimulus program, anger over the Wall Street and auto bailouts, mistrust of government in general, fears that jobs won’t return and worries about a national debt that has grown to $13.6 trillion — more than the nation’s gross domestic product.

A White House report Friday claimed the stimulus program was on track to create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of December and that about two-thirds of the money had been committed in government spending and tax cuts.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, by contrast, estimates the program is responsible for as few as 1.4 million jobs and as many as 3.3 million. Republicans scoff at the administration’s use of the “jobs saved” category in its totals and point out that when the stimulus was passed, the White House said it would help hold unemployment at under 8 percent; it’s now 9.6 percent.

With partisan rhetoric flying, Republicans and Democrats present starkly different perspectives of what’s at stake.

Putting off a decision on the expiring tax cuts was a high-risk strategy that could backfire for Democrats. If no agreement is reached in a postelection session of Congress, taxes will rise on Jan. 1 for nearly every household. Neither party wants to be associated with that.

Mr. Obama and most Democratic leaders favor letting the cuts, passed in 2001 and 2003, lapse for the rich but continue for everyone else. Republicans suggest that could wreck the fragile economic recovery; they want all the cuts extended.

The expiring tax cuts are not only on wage income. They also cover interest, dividends, capital gains and large inheritances. Relief from the marriage penalty would disappear, and the per-child tax deduction would slide from $1,000 back to $500.

Not knowing what tax rates will be just a few months from now adds to “the collective nervousness,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “With each passing day, the uncertainty increases.”

Because neither party wants to be blamed for raising everyone’s taxes in hard times, some compromise seems likely before year’s end — perhaps a temporary extension for all the cuts. Efforts to slash taxes on businesses, though supported by Mr. Obama and both parties, have stalled without finding a way to avoid adding to the government’s debt.

Democrats kept scolding Republicans as “the party of no,” and then the GOP rolled out a “Pledge to America” last month. Full of rhetorical flourishes modeled on the Declaration of Independence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America” from 1994, this new statement of principles calls for extending all the Bush tax cuts while offering vague spending cuts. Nonessential government spending would return to 2008 levels, according to the blueprint.

“Putting spending, putting the policy of economic growth in place and cleaning up the way Congress works is not only a stark contrast to this president and this Congress. It’s a contrast to the way we conducted ourselves a decade ago. We spent too much money. We lost our way,” said Rep. Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, who is one of the GOP’s rising stars.

Both parties suffer divisions within their own ranks over goals and priorities.

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