Is it a sign that Obama is getting weaker when he has to bring in Clinton to fight his battles for him?

"WASHINGTON, Dec 10 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday called on a battle-scarred dealmaker, former President Bill Clinton, to help convince reluctant Democrats to back a compromise tax plan before rates rise for most Americans in January.

As Democrats in the House of Representatives sought to toughen provisions targeted at the wealthiest, Clinton urged them to pass the plan in its current form before they hand over control of the chamber to Republicans next month.

"This is a much, much better agreement than would be reached were we to wait until January," Clinton said at a White House news conference with Obama by his side.

Democrats have closely studied Clinton's 1990s tenure in the White House as they seek to recover from a devastating defeat in November's congressional elections. The voluble former president, legendary for his political skills, remained at the podium even after Obama left for a Christmas party.

Obama's $856 billion tax deal, struck with the Republicans who will soon wield greater clout in Washington, is viewed with alarm by many Democrats who worry that he will give away too much at the bargaining table in the next two years.

"We have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides," said independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who inveighed against the deal on the Senate floor for more than six hours on Friday without a bathroom break or a chance to sit down. Sanders generally votes with the Democrats.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill as soon as Tuesday, but its prospects are less certain in the House. Democrats there want to toughen estate-tax provisions that they say are too generous for the wealthiest Americans, but it will be difficult for them to see those changes become law."