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Hill Gets the Obama Touch

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One Senate Democratic leadership aide said Obama could expect a substantive discussion that includes “good give and take” on the budget, with lawmakers arguing for increased funds in some areas and cuts in others. In light of the latest CBO numbers, there may be pretty firm demands by some Senators for cuts, he added.

And Obama might want to note that Democrats are also trying to preserve his agenda even in the current fiscal climate, the aide suggested.

“I think what they’ll want to hear in part is him thanking the caucus for protecting his priorities in health care, education and energy while cutting the deficit in half,” the leadership aide said.

Another senior aide noted that Democrats are very supportive of Obama’s overall direction in areas like health, education and energy. “I expect he’ll get encouragement for not giving up and getting into a shell and not doing anything until the economy recovers,” he said.

Noting the anger directed recently at Geithner, this source said lawmakers also may express some concern that the message that righting the economy will take some time is not “being communicated as well as it could.”

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said he remains unconvinced that the budget as currently written is the right way to go but that he will likely withhold judgment on whether he will support the final package until the details are worked out.

Nelson said Tuesday that if the proposal includes greater curbs on spending it would be “heading in the right direction for me” and that he hopes Obama brings a message of greater fiscal restraint to today’s meeting.

The moderate Democrat hopes Obama talks about “less spending, stretching out priorities ... that would be refreshing.”

The president will also brief Senators today on the outlook for his trip to London next week where he will meet with leaders of the G-20 nations to discuss the global economy. Obama and his advisers are pushing Europe to adopt the type of stimulative measures that the United States has already put in place.

John Stanton contributed to this report.

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