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Let’s Not Make a Deal

The great non-compromiser.

Jan 28, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 19 • By FRED BARNES
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If the president wants to deal with these before the last minute, he’d better be prepared to compromise. Last week, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell urged him to “engage now or force a crisis later” on increasing the debt limit. To clear the way, McConnell said, what’s required is “a bipartisan spending-reduction solution.”

Spending cuts are precisely what Obama refuses to consider. He’s called for a “clean” bill to increase the debt limit, unlike 2011 when he was forced to compromise and accept spending cuts (negotiated by others). That was a painful episode for Obama. And he’s adamant about not compromising this year.

He’s no help on the sequester either. To replace its across-the-board cuts, half defense, half domestic, Obama wants to include tax increases. This is reminiscent of the spending cuts that passed muster with Biden last year, only to be brushed aside when Obama joined budget talks.

In all this, President Obama may be unaware that his allergy to compromise has a downside. It keeps him from acting in his own interest. For a freshly reelected president, he has a surprisingly low job approval rating. It hovers around 50 percent. But he has it within his power to improve his standing. Americans crave two things in Washington: bipartisanship and reduced spending. Deliver them and his approval rating will soar. All that’s required on his part is compromise.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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