With little more than a week left to raise the debt ceiling before the nation defaults on its obligations, President Obama is under more pressure than ever to craft a compromise that will satisfy both sides of the aisle. Some of that urgency is stemming from a new political rift over between Obama and other Democrats, who worry that the President is backing away from forcing Republicans to agree to revenue increases in talks about a potential deal. Democrats’ ire—described as a “volcanic reaction” by Sen. Barbara Mikulski—was evident after they were briefed on the details of an earlier plan that proposed large cuts in spending and social programs, but opted to defer the consideration of increasing revenues until 2012. Though the plan would require Congress to consider thorough tax reform next year, Democrats don’t think that’s a good enough guarantee of Republican cooperation; they want substantial measures to prevent Republicans from reneging on their agreement to consider revenue increases next year, after huge spending cuts have already been made. The party’s general frustration with Republican demands was also clear from its vote to kill the “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal on Friday. Relations between the President and his party are calmer now, but the details of any new deal, and who will be left disappointed by it, remain unclear.
Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget & director of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation