By Byron York….Barack Obama believes he can leverage some of his killing-bin-Laden popularity into new power on Capitol Hill. “It is my fervent hope,” the president told a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House Monday night, “that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face.
“If the president is thinking about the most contentious issues on the Hill right now — the budget and the debt ceiling — he can forget about any new unity. “While the speaker is glad that Osama bin Laden has been killed, it won’t affect his relationship [with the president] on any other policy issues,” says a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “For example, I don’t think anyone is more likely to vote for a debt-limit increase without spending cuts and other reforms because bin Laden is dead.”A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for says much the same. Sending along McConnell’s remarks from the Biden deficit task force meeting Thursday — in which McConnell pushed Obama and Democrats to agree to spending cuts — the spokesman added, “Please note that [McConnell] has not converted to a tax-and-spend liberal.
“The fact is, Republican leaders do not believe Obama’s victory over bin Laden translates into any greater clout on core issues like the budget. “It’s a significant accomplishment, an important accomplishment,” says a well-connected GOP strategist. “And Obama gets a boost in terms of this particular accomplishment. But the No. 1 issue in the country is jobs and the economy, and ultimately he’s going to be judged by that issue.”
Republicans believe Obama, whose job approval ratings were in the mid-to-high 40s before bin Laden’s death, will be back where he was before long. Therefore, they see no reason to make any special concessions to him on strong GOP issues like the deficit.
But what about the polls that show Obama’s numbers improving when people are asked to rate him on attributes like decisiveness and leadership? “Those are interesting discussion points, but ultimately it’s about the outcome,” says the Republican strategist. “The attributes are secondary to the outcome. Did he fix the economy? Did he get unemployment below a certain percentage? It’s great that he’s decisive, but look at unemployment and gas prices.”
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