Obama aide: Budget will make both parties unhappy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is warning friend and foe alike: They’re not going to like every part of President Barack Obama’s budget when it is released this week.
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer is telling Republicans their “my way or the highway” approach would spell the GOP’s defeat in upcoming budget negotiations. He also is telling Obama’s Democratic allies that they, too, will have to bend on the spending plan that is due Wednesday.
“Look, this is compromise,” Pfeiffer said on Sunday. “And compromise means there are going to be some folks on both sides who are not happy.”
The White House is laying the groundwork to work with rank-and-file Republicans, including a dinner with GOP senators and the president on Wednesday night. That outreach is unlikely to calm concerns among liberal Democrats that Obama is open to trading traditionally sacrosanct programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
And the White House is also preparing to offer programs likely to be popular among its liberal allies, including expanded education programs for toddlers before they reach kindergarten. Republicans are unlikely to support any massive new initiatives because of their cost, and some conservatives are particularly critical of existing Head Start programs for children from low-income families.
Obama is set to formally release his budget outline Wednesday morning. Its delay from February, then to March and now to April has left lawmakers in the Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate to write their own budget proposals and move ahead without a concrete plan from Obama’s economic team.
White House officials say they want to come up with an outline that both jump-starts the economy and reduces the nation’s red ink — a goal broadly shared by both parties.
Yet the details may prove a sticking point.
“The president is showing a little bit of leg here, this is somewhat encouraging,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, before quickly noting the Obama proposal as a whole “isn’t going to make it.”
“We’re beginning to set the stage for the grand bargain,” the South Carolina Republican added in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Such a large-scale deal has proved elusive for Obama — first with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and now with Senate Republicans. Time and again, the White House has tried to negotiate an overarching compromise that brings down spending while protecting social safety nets for those who need them most. Each time, talks have fallen apart amid revolt among the strongest partisans in Democrats’ and Republicans’ caucuses.
Yet Obama is again working to find a deal, his top advisers said.
“What we’re looking for is what the president calls a caucus of common sense, folks who are willing to compromise and who understand that in divided government, both sides aren’t going to get everything they want,” Pfeiffer told “Fox News Sunday.”
In a separate interview, Pfeiffer told ABC’s “This Week” that the White House sees an opening to work with rank-and-file lawmakers on a deal, perhaps bypassing the party’s leadership.
“Is it going to be easy? Absolutely not. But there is a possibility,” Pfeiffer said.