After weeks of debate, Obama may have a tenuous hold on the political high ground as he takes on a more visible role, urging party leaders to set aside ideology to trim an estimated $4 trillion from the deficit over the next decade.
Obama’s political strategy since his party loss the midterm elections has been to portray himself as a reasonable man in partisan Washington, at times angering Republicans and Democrats in doing so.
His proposal, which he has said would bring certainty to an economy constrained by anxiety over the nation’s fiscal condition, would involve spending cuts to agency budgets, including the Pentagon’s; ending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the “wealthiest” Americans; and changing entitlement programs in ways his party has traditionally opposed.
Obama’s political advantage may fade quickly, though, if a deal cannot be reached before Aug. 2, the date the administration says the nation will begin to default on its obligations unless the borrowing limit is raised. Polls show that most Americans believe he has managed the economy poorly, and the unemployment rate’s jump to 9.2 percent in June has raised alarms within a White House looking toward reelection in 2012.