Americans won't have to wait long to see if a spirit of dealmaking can persist. Already under way: jockeying over the 2012 budget. Up next: a politically perilous vote on the national debt ceiling, now at $14.25 trillion. (If Congress does not act to raise the debt limit, the US government would hit its ceiling on May 16 and – after using accounting measures to buy more time – default on its debt payments by early July, the US Treasury estimates.)
One takeaway from the three leaders' negotiation marathon: House Speaker Boehner, the lone Republican in the room, succeeded in using the threat of an angry, beyond-his-control, 87-strong GOP freshman class – pledged to roll back the size of government – to block "investments" in economic recovery and to leverage some spending cuts, though not as many as conservatives had wanted.
Now, with a Gallup poll showing that 6 in 10 Americans approve of the budget deal that slices $38 billion from spending for the next six months, the president has moved toward embracing the role of deficit slayer. When House Republicans rolled out their plan on April 6 to cut more spending into the future, Obama answered a week later by unveiling his own deficit-reduction proposal during a speech at George Washington University.
"Republicans have insisted on spending cuts and deficit reduction, rather than reviving the economy, and with this speech [Obama] shifted to their ground," says Mr. Zelizer. "This is a White House that feels that Republicans are powerful and have been successful in shifting the public to their issues."