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Frustration With Obama Builds

Price said the president needs to use the bully pulpit to highlight the possible economic effects of proposed GOP spending cuts, while also trumpeting Democratic plans to a invest in critical programs.

“It is just folly to take $60 billion out of the economy at this time,” the North Carolina Democrat said.

Obama hasn’t been completely disengaged: He has tapped his top aides, including Daley, OMB Director Jacob Lew and Vice President Joseph Biden, to work with Hill leaders on a deal. And White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended his boss’s role in the spending standoff, maintaining that staff-level negotiations are ongoing. Carney also said that Obama will remain engaged in talks despite the fact that he leaves the country Friday.

“Obviously the trip is on and the president will be going to Latin America,” Carney said during a Tuesday briefing. “We watch everything when we travel, just as we watch everything when we’re here in the White House.”

The White House spokesman also knocked the practice of passing a series of short-term spending measures.

“We cannot keep funding the government in two- or three-week increments. It is time for us to come together, find common ground and resolve this issue in a sensible way,” Carney said, noting that Obama has agreed to about half the level of cuts sought by Republicans. “We have already met Republicans halfway, and we are optimistic that Congress can get this done.”

Rep. Robert Andrews, a key ally of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said Obama will be there when it counts.

“I’m sure he’ll be there when the big spending debate is resolved, which is really when it matters,” the New Jersey Democrat said.

Andrews added that Members need to appreciate that Obama wears several hats: “He is the leader of the country, but he’s also the commander in chief and head of state.”

Republicans aren’t buying it.

Sen. Dan Coats (Ind.) led a group of 23 GOP Senators on Wednesday in penning a letter to the White House urging Obama to show “strong leadership to address the financial crisis and entitlement programs.”

Kathleen Hunter and Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.

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