Not all. Robert Borosage, president of liberal Campaign for America’s Future, thinks Obama has been unfairly criticized for failing to speak to lawmakers in the past, though he did think the recent outreach could be helpful. “It’s good to use personal persuasion,” he said.
Obama has at times tried to engage lawmakers, most notably when he played golf once with Boehner in 2011. But earlier efforts were short-lived.
White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted Thursday that Obama has always engaged with lawmakers. He acknowledged, though, that the president realized the implementation of the spending cuts contributed to “changed circumstances.”
“We are not unrealistic in our expectations,” Carney said. “We are not naive about the fact that there are real disagreements between the two parties on these issues. . . . We are simply saying that it is the right thing to do, and the American people expect their leaders to do it, to engage and have a conversation about these issues. . . . But there are also likely to be areas of agreement.”
Last month, Obama invited Senate Democrats working on an immigration overhaul to the White House for a meeting that his staff did not publicize or add to his daily schedule. Republicans were not invited to attend.
After days of criticism, he phoned Republican senators working on the same issue – including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and his 2008 presidential rival, John McCain of Arizona.
Then came a flurry of calls and meetings: He invited the four leaders – Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to the White House to talk about the cuts. He called a slew of senators from both parties, before the Senate voted last week on potential responses to the cuts, and since then to speak about broader fiscal issues.
“I hope it will serve as the beginning of a new, long-overdue paradigm where people in elected office actually begin talking to each other about meaningful issues,” said Graham, who helped organize the dinner Wednesday.
David Lightman of the Washington Bureau contributed.