So in fact, Mr. Obama bears some risk – especially as time goes on.
“I think he wins short term, but danger mounts over time,” says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “There’s only one president, and he will be the focus of people’s attention if a satisfactory resolution is not eventually reached.”
Obama could in fact “win” the sequester battle for a couple of months, since the cuts will start to bite slowly. Very little will happen at the end of the week, when the deadline is reached. By March 27, when the next “fiscal cliff” deadline is reached – the end of federal budget spending authority and the possibility of a government shutdown – a sense of crisis could begin to build. And only then will the public look to Obama, as president, to solve the problem.
But doesn’t Obama risk looking as if he’s crying wolf? The White House is making dire predictions about cuts that take effect Friday, yet not much cutting will be in evidence.
“The president can easily argue that while nothing dramatic happened today, it will come in a matter of weeks, and you will see it and feel it,” says Mr. Jillson. “He can say bad things will happen because the Republicans are failing to meet him halfway.”