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Obama on political high, but momentum hard to keep
Off to Hawaii on a political high note, Obama to face huge challenges in coming election year
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' President Barack Obama has capped a bruising year by winning a tax cut extension for millions of Americans, but his momentum may be hard to maintain in the coming election year.

The president's victory in a tax fight with House Republicans overshadowed Washington's deepening dysfunction and the slow progress of the economy on his watch.

He left Friday for Hawaii with the look of a president who was back in command of the political stage.

The lasting impression was of Obama presiding over a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut after House Republicans caved on demands for a longer-lasting deal.

Yet on this issue, as on many, much work remains for Obama after the new year, just when voters begin choosing a Republican nominee to try to defeat him.

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