After missing last week’s deadline to produce plans on how it would implement deep, automatic across-the-board cuts to defense spending early next year, the White House now says it will produce the report by Friday.
The Office of Management and Budget owed a report to Congress last Thursday on the effects of the budget restrictions known as “sequestration,” which hawks have warned would be devastating to national defense. But President Obama missed the deadline as he prepared to deliver his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
The White House has blown off several budget deadlines and having the defense cuts outlined during the convention would have marred the Democratic narrative on the final day of the convention.
More broadly, the White House also scoffed at the way a new book from Bob Woodward depicts President Obama’s as providing weak leadership during last year’s debt-ceiling crisis that contributed to the failure to forge a grand bargain between the two parties.
The president’s leadership during last summer’s negotiations was “significant,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters during Monday’s briefing, and reflected a “sincere and deliberate” effort to compromise.
After months of negotiations one-on-one with Speaker John Boehner, Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner developed a good working relationship that led him to believe Republican leaders were “willing to compromise” at different points during the debt talks.
“Unfortunately, throughout the process … every time [compromise] became a possibility, House Republicans walked away,” Mr. Carney said.
“The president fought hard for a grand bargain … At the end, the speaker looked over his shoulder and found there was no one behind him,” he continued.
But Mr. Boehner’s office pointed the finger at the president, who they said “lost his courage” when it got down to crunch time in the negotiations.
“The [Woodward] book confirms previous reporting about how the speaker, majority leader, and the president had a framework of a deal on tax and entitlement reform, and then the president moved the goalposts and lost his courage,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said in a statement. “Presidents have a responsibility to lead, and this president has failed the test of leadership when it comes to creating jobs and addressing our debt crisis.”
Mr. Woodward’s book, “The Price of Politics,” spares neither side in its criticism, providing detail about both sides’ intransigence as the United States hovered on the edge of a debt default and the country’s credit was eventually downgraded for the first time in history.
But the book is particularly harsh on Mr. Obama’s record, concluding that the president’s aloof tendencies and failure to forge deep relationships with members of Congress contributed to his inability to “work his will” on Congress and push through a deal.
Mr. Carney flatly rejected the notion that Mr. Obama didn’t have the social connections or the clout in Congress to hold sway in the final negotiations, noting that President Clinton and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican from Georgia, weren’t fast friends when they agreed to balance the budget in the late 1990s.
“The issue here is not whether Speaker Boehner and the president get along — because they do,” he said.”What is required here is the willingness to accept the simple proposition that in our system of government when we have Republicans — largely in control of Congress … and Democrats here at the White House and the Senate, you can’t get everything you want. You can’t stand on your maximalist position and just hold your breath.”