Live from D.C.: Is budget bipartisanship in the works?

WASHINGTON — Greetings from the nation’s capital, where I’m spending this week to meet with members of Georgia’s congressional delegation before attending the American Conservative Union’s annual CPAC conference. (I had some technical issues when I first arrived yesterday, but those have been resolved.)

I’m early into my schedule on Capitol Hill, where I’m spending most of Tuesday and Wednesday, but there’s a buzz about President Obama’s outreach to congressional Republicans — and whether it’s real.

Last week, of course, Obama dined with a dozen Republicans and called several more. This week, he’s meeting with both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in both the House and the Senate — not part of the routine for this president. All of these moves have come since the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration took effect March 1, after Obama and the GOP couldn’t agree on a substitute package.

Obama has talked a good game about bipartisanship before, but some folks on the Hill say this time might — might– be different, in part because of polls like this new one:

If President Barack Obama had piled up political capital with his impressive re-election, it’s largely gone.

His approval rating has dropped to the lowest level in more than a year, with more voters now turning thumbs down on his performance than thumbs up, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. The measure of how much people like him also has dropped.

He’s still vastly more popular than Congress, particularly congressional Republicans. But in the biggest political clash of the year — over the federal budget and how to curb deficits — voters split 44 percent to 42 percent between preferring Congress or Obama.

The sky didn’t fall after sequestration (although lines to get into congressional office buildings today apparently were longer than usual due to budget cuts; I didn’t notice much of a difference flying out of Hartsfield-Jackson yesterday). As I suggested beforehand, the public reaction to the cuts was going to have a huge bearing on what happened next. If Americans really aren’t experiencing unbearable pain and blaming it on Congress, the president will be under more pressure to try to meet the GOP in the middle.

All the comments so far are very much hedged: The partisanship of the past few years means there’s limited trust on both sides. But Sen. Johnny Isakson offered an anecdote that reflects why some people wonder if this “charm initiative” (Isakson’s term) is different from previous ones.

“I’ve been here while he’s been president five years, and he’s called me three, four, maybe five times total, never over two minutes,” Isakson told me in his office Tuesday morning. “And this [phone call last week] was a 20-minute call, where he was letting me talk more than him.”

I asked Isakson what would indicate to him, when Obama meets with GOP senators Thursday, that the president is serious this time.

“I don’t want to oversimplify it, but — and I told him this on the phone — if you don’t put entitlements on the table, you’re never going to get your arms around the deficit and the growing debt,” he said. Specifically, Isakson wants to know if the president is prepared to negotiate about “formulas and eligibility” for Medicare — meaning who is covered, and to what extent — rather than just reducing reimbursements to doctors.

I’ll have more from Isakson and other Georgia members when time permits.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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154 comments Add your comment

HDB

March 12th, 2013
12:46 pm

Question: would you want to speak to those whose stated policy was to make him a “one-term President”….and whatever proposal coming from him (the President) was met with a resounding “NO”? You can’t compromise when one side is belligerent and bellicose!!

md

March 12th, 2013
12:47 pm

It is those reimbursements to doctors/hospitals/nursing homes that have skewered the entire healthcare system.

When I hear folks talk about how the gov’t keeps it’s costs down I just have to shake my head at the ignorance of the total picture………..

md

March 12th, 2013
12:51 pm

“Question: would you want to speak to those whose stated policy was to make him a “one-term President”….and whatever proposal coming from him (the President) was met with a resounding “NO”?”

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/bob-woodwards-reporting-forces-scarborough-to-admit-republicans-tried-to-work-with-obama/

“On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, author and journalist Bob Woodward appeared on the program to promote his upcoming book detailing the early years of President Barack Obama’s administration. During the interview, Joe Scarborough was forced to admit that he had been misquoting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) when he said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Scarborough noted that the press had omitted the final part of that quote in which McConnell said that, if there was compromise, Republicans would be happy to work with Obama. ”

And that’s MSNBC, the left of the left………..

Jefferson

March 12th, 2013
12:53 pm

Tell DC that :

Reasonable people can come to reasonable conclusions under reasonable conditions, unless you are a republican.

They need to know why they lost and are losing.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

March 12th, 2013
12:53 pm

Considering that we need to get our nation’s finances in order and start creating jobs, I for one, am giving the benefit of the doubt to President Obama’s sincerity and hope that it is a sign of what we can expect in the future.

No, this is not a name jack.

JDW

March 12th, 2013
12:56 pm

Well it will be interesting to see what happens next. Of course you should know that the sequesters effects have not really been felt yet so reaction will likely shift but, in the end I think it still comes down to the ability to find some number of Republicans that are willing to take a balanced approach between cutting spending and increasing revenues.

I did see where Mikulski and Shelby got on the same page yesterday….and for those in constant denial there was this little nugget…

“Measured in real, inflation-adjusted dollars, total discretionary spending for 2013 is expected to be even lower than 2005″

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/03/senate-takes-own-path-on-cr-88724_Page2.html

md

March 12th, 2013
12:57 pm

“I’ve got to admit, just by reading press reports, I didn’t know the other side of the Mitch McConnell quote. And I think I, at least, owe him an apology here on the air because we’ve repeated it a thousand times where Mitch McConnell says, my one priority, my top priority is preventing a second Obama term. But you actually pull out what nobody in the media pulls out, and that’s the rest of Mitch McConnell’s statement. ”

And this is coming from NBC, the home of the out of context edited videos to fool the masses……….Travon Martin, the Newtown Gun hearings, and Romney campaign speeches…….

Politico

March 12th, 2013
12:58 pm

“And that’s MSNBC, the left of the left………”

Don’t watch MSNBC but do know ole Morning Joe is no liberal, but nice try……… Something about have served as Republican member of the House in a fairly conservative NW FL district might lead someone to believe he is a moderate at best.

Using your logic, is Bob Beckle a conservative because he works for Fox?

Thomas Heyward Jr

March 12th, 2013
1:02 pm

Yea………I’m real sure TARP-baby Isackson will be willing to “compromise”.
.
If you work for a living and your’re not a Central banker…………….hold on to your wallet.

md

March 12th, 2013
1:03 pm

“Don’t watch MSNBC”

Then maybe you should refrain from commenting……….I never said Joe was anything.

@@

March 12th, 2013
1:04 pm

“…..if you don’t put entitlements on the table, you’re never going to get your arms around the deficit and the growing debt,…”

If he does, I’ve read where his party will throttle him with their arms.

Between Barack and the hard place he’s created for hisself. He’s a delegator, not a leader. I’ve never understood why that is. I suspect he’s known from day one that he was in over his head?

He’s a back seat driver that doesn’t even bother to navigate….just along for the ride.

Politico

March 12th, 2013
1:05 pm

md

I will comment as I see fit; just as you do. Not my problem if you do not like it. You quoted Morning Joe then spoke of MSNBC as being the left of the left.

That was your stupidity to link the two.

md

March 12th, 2013
1:09 pm

” You quoted Morning Joe then spoke of MSNBC as being the left of the left. ”

Last I checked, Joe is not spelled MSNBC, so quit blaming your inabilities on others. I spoke of 2 very different entities, it was in your head that they melded into one……….

@@

March 12th, 2013
1:11 pm

it was in your head that they melded into one……….

Like jello?

Couldn’t resist.

Politico

March 12th, 2013
1:11 pm

md

Quit crying. There is a reason you spoke of two different entities. You were called out. Get over over little fella.

southpaw

March 12th, 2013
1:12 pm

The new poll must be skewed.

Politico

March 12th, 2013
1:13 pm

“The new poll must be skewed.”

At least that’s what some were saying before the election.

just saying

:-)

Politico

March 12th, 2013
1:15 pm

Kyle

Will you be speaking at any of the forums during the conference?

@@

March 12th, 2013
1:15 pm

I for one, am giving the benefit of the doubt to President Obama’s sincerity and hope that it is a sign of what we can expect in the future.

Me too, Aesop!

He can be a lame duck that goes nowhere or a man standing on his own two….

Forget about your party AND your base, Mr. President. Do what’s right for the country!!!

Road Scholar

March 12th, 2013
1:18 pm

Now, now children…

“… the president will be under more pressure to try to meet the GOP in the middle.”

Middle of what? The GOP position?

southpaw

March 12th, 2013
1:18 pm

Politico

And now some others can say it after the election.

Politico

March 12th, 2013
1:21 pm

southpaw

Who is challenging the poll that Kyle mentions in his article?

I remember assertions about polls being skewed before the election and several right wing websites running articles about that very thing with an insinuation that Romney was really leading.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

March 12th, 2013
1:26 pm

Anyone who trusts Obozo is a fool.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

March 12th, 2013
1:42 pm

Trust but verify, Lil’ Bar.

HDB

March 12th, 2013
1:43 pm

md
March 12th, 2013
12:51 pm

” if there was compromise, Republicans would be happy to work with Obama. ”

Problem is….Republicans don’t know the definition of the word!! They just came back and said that they would meet with Obama ONLY if they get everything they want!! Can you spell OBTUSE???

southpaw

March 12th, 2013
1:47 pm

Who is challenging the poll that Kyle mentions in his article?

No one I’ve seen–yet. But I won’t be surprised if someone ends up saying it’s wrong. Maybe I should have put a smiley face on my post, as you did.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

March 12th, 2013
1:49 pm

They just came back and said that they would meet with Obama ONLY if they get everything they want!!
——-

Link please.

alittlecommosense

March 12th, 2013
1:59 pm

HDB, it would be very hard to make a rational case that the Republicans are more “belligerent and bellicose” than Democrats. I could find at least ten instances where Democrat leadership has said far worse than the one term president quote in the last few years. Let alone what they said about Bush.

Nevertheless, Obama is President. He needs to put on his big boy pants and work for the American people. If his skin is so thin that he won’t work with Republicans because they wanted to make him a one term President, then he’s a bit of a crybaby.

alittlecommosense

March 12th, 2013
2:01 pm

“They just came back and said that they would meet with Obama ONLY if they get everything they want!! ”

Highly unlikely. I don’t want to call you a liar. So quote your source.

bluecoat

March 12th, 2013
2:34 pm

If the one term statement had never been made,actions speak louder.Aesops even talked with a little respect before sliding back to his normal self.Caution when it comes to trusting any politican is wise.This get everything you want attitude,what got us where we are now.

Henne

March 12th, 2013
2:40 pm

Technical problems = hanging out at The Dubliner.

Jefferson

March 12th, 2013
2:45 pm

What the country needs is revenue and cuts in spending, anything less will fail.

@@

March 12th, 2013
2:49 pm

Anyone who trusts Obozo is a fool.

I’m takin’ ^^^ that personally…rending my garments, I am.

HDB

March 12th, 2013
2:51 pm

Anyone who trusts Republicans is a fool.

Centrist

March 12th, 2013
2:59 pm

1. National polls on individual House members are worthless. Only their district polls matter, and the vast majority of them are safe. Republicans are going to retain the House in the 2014 off-year election.

2. The Continuing Resolution for the next half year looks to be reconciled and passed without too much more Obama drama.

3. The (missing) Presidential, Senate, and House budgets for the next fiscal year are so far apart that there will undoubtedly be a Continuing Resolution in October while they squabble over it for a year.

4. Obama has no choice but to FINALLY negotiate since sequestration and real cuts in spending have been implemented. Whether the liberal media continues to characterize Obama as winning the partisan politics, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans holding out are open questions that could continue derail any chance at a bi-partisan agreement.

md

March 12th, 2013
3:00 pm

“Quit crying. There is a reason you spoke of two different entities. You were called out. Get over over little fella.”

Here’s a hint…..your misinterpretation does not equate to wrong doing on my part.

If one can’t see that msnbc is slanted way to the left then one doesn’t want to see it or at least acknowledge it. I have no problem acknowledging the right leaning outlets as well as the few middle of the road outlets.

But for one to misinterpret what was written and then blame the writer takes a set of kahunas…..

md

March 12th, 2013
3:04 pm

“What the country needs is revenue and cuts in spending, anything less will fail.”

And there in lies the problem as neither party is in favor of the revenue unless we are lucky enough to win the lottery with all those new tickets Ben is printing……..

And since neither side wants to raise revenue then logic dictates that the only remaining option is to quit spending what we do not have or suffer the consequences. And one can look to socialist europe for a peek at how well it worked for them with their super duper taxes on the rich not even putting a dent in their problem.

alittlecommosense

March 12th, 2013
3:06 pm

Well, HDB has had plenty of time to show us some evidence of his claim that Republicans would “meet with Obama ONLY if they get everything they want”.

Since he has failed this, I have no choice but to proclaim him a liar.

@@

March 12th, 2013
3:08 pm

I trust that Obama will cherish his legacy more than his “wantin’” base.

schnirt

Who knows…maybe his narcissism will, for once, serve the country as opposed to hisself.

Hillbilly D

March 12th, 2013
3:16 pm

Anyone who trusts any politician is a fool, is how I would word that..

Finn McCool (the system isn't broken; it's fixed)

March 12th, 2013
3:18 pm

Cons, bow down before your master:

Former AIG executive officer Maurice Greenberg is pushing forward with a lawsuit against the government its over its $182 billion rescue of the insurance giant. Although AIG declined to join the lawsuit in January (as the New York Times noted, “the insurer faced an enormous public uproar over the prospect of suing the source of its lifeline”), Greenberg is moving forward with his new company, Starr International Co. The Times noted that Greenberg’s complaint, which was granted class-action status on Monday, “largely restat[es] his arguments that 2008 bailout of the insurer was unconstitutional and wrongly cheated shareholders out of billions of dollars.

@@

March 12th, 2013
3:20 pm

“26 percent”

– Portion of respondents in a Pew Research Center poll who said they trust the U.S. federal government to do the right thing always or most of the time.

Is Obama Ready to Pay the Cost to be the Boss?

Not a bad assessment.

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

March 12th, 2013
3:23 pm

“I’ve been here while he’s been president five years, and he’s called me three, four, maybe five times total, never over two minutes,” Isakson told me in his office Tuesday morning. “And this [phone call last week] was a 20-minute call, where he was letting me talk more than him.”

Right

Basically if Obama would just do what they wanted everything would be fine.

Sorry we had an election. You guys lost. Badly.

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

March 12th, 2013
3:26 pm

Well, HDB has had plenty of time to show us some evidence of his claim that Republicans would “meet with Obama ONLY if they get everything they want”.

“the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”

- Mitch McConnell

They failed to achieve that stated goal. So the next logical step is to simply wait out the Presidents second term and do nothing.

Which is exactly what they are doing.

@@

March 12th, 2013
3:37 pm

Too funny…in a sad sorta way.

The confusing question of the day.

I like the last lady…straight up honest…not trying to fool anyone.

Hillbilly D

March 12th, 2013
3:49 pm

@@

Did you notice the two Spidermen (Spiderpersons?) walking by at about 1:39?

I liked this one…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz-LxZnPjJA

Centrist

March 12th, 2013
3:55 pm

So, over the next year while we watch the opposite sides of next year’s budget battle possible narrow their HUGE differences this might be lost: Under sequestration that only started this month more will be cut in 2014 and later; from 2014 to 2021, the sequester will cut $87 to $92 billion from the discretionary budget every year, and $109 billion total. If there is not a “Grand Bargain” struck, there will have to be more Continuing Resolutions which will include the current sequester law of more actual spending cuts every year for 9 more years. Republicans have their spending cuts via sequester and will only slightly budge on more revenue in exchange for shifting where the spending cuts are made. Entitlements are where most of low hanging fruit of less painful cuts reside.

A “Grand Bargain” almost certainly has to be struck – or those added automatic sequestration spending cuts for the following years will only hurt much worse as the tourniquet gets tightened every month. But we will need more time and pain before political and liberal media reality gel.

md

March 12th, 2013
4:08 pm

Since Cheesy missed the upper part of our discussion:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/when-did-mcconnell-say-he-wanted-to-make-obama-a-one-term-president/2012/09/24/79fd5cd8-0696-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html

” McConnell: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

NJ: Does that mean endless, or at least frequent, confrontation with the president?

McConnell: If President Obama does a Clintonian backflip, if he’s willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it’s not inappropriate for us to do business with him.

NJ: What are the big issues?

McConnell: It is possible the president’s advisers will tell him he has to do something to get right with the public on his levels of spending and [on] lowering the national debt. If he were to heed that advice, he would, I imagine, find more support among our conference than he would among some in the Senate in his own party. I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change. So, we’ll see. The next move is going to be up to him.”

Context Cheesy……context. It can be the difference between fact and a talking point memo…..

@@

March 12th, 2013
4:12 pm

Hillbilly:

I did notice the spidey stand-ins?

(ISH)

“Are you O.K. with the Pope being Jewish?”

Lawd ah mercy!!!!!!

I’ve never considered myself an intellectual but compared to those folks, I’m at least Madame “Curious”.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

March 12th, 2013
4:15 pm

HDB: Anyone who trusts Republicans is a fool.
——————-

Translation: HDB got called out and can’t back up her earlier claim.