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Mr. Obama has defended some of his increased annual deficits as necessary to recover from the severe recession that began under Mr. Bush, and Mr. Obama also has raised taxes as part of his stated plan to lower deficits in his second term. He is trying to raise more tax revenue; congressional Republicans are resisting.

That impasse brings up another similarity between Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama: Both presidents came into the White House promising to solve the hostile partisanship of Washington. Both men failed.