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'The President Who Wants It All'

3:01 PM, Jan 3, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Fred Barnes, writing in the Wall Street Journal

Unlike prior presidents, Mr. Obama doesn't believe he is obligated personally to bring about a compromise. Over the past 18 months, he hosted meetings with Republican leaders and had numerous one-on-one conversations with House Speaker John Boehner—all for naught. Much of the serious negotiating is left to subordinates. He skipped the final talks on the fiscal-cliff deal, only to appear on television to inform "members of both parties" in Congress that he and the American people were anxiously awaiting a last-minute accord—as if he were as uninvolved in the budget wrangling as the public.

After the 2010 election, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell worked out a deal on taxes and spending. In 2011, Mr. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid picked up the pieces after a debt-limit compromise sought by Mr. Obama failed to materialize. This week, it was Messrs. Biden and McConnell again who were called on to produce an agreement.

The president devoted weeks to unproductive talks with Mr. Boehner and Republican leaders in 2011 over a $4 trillion grand bargain on taxes and spending. "He views it that if he has extensive debate then he'd fulfilled his only obligation," a Republican engaged in the talks said. "Every day we got further away from a deal." Nonetheless, Mr. Obama boasted of having devoted more time than any previous president to such discussions.

An even bigger impediment is the president's predilection for stepping up his demands just as a compromise appears possible. After Mr. Boehner agreed to $800 billion in new tax revenues in 2011, Mr. Obama suddenly called for $400 billion more. This instantly killed a potential grand bargain and deepened Republican distrust of the president.

Whole thing here.

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