Obama Heads to Middle East as Budget Battle Boils

The White House may hope the president's trip boosts approval at home.

President Barack Obama waves to the media as he walks across the South Lawn to the Oval Office of the White House from Marine One, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, in Washington.
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President Barack Obama may gain the upper hand politically in the ongoing budget battles as he leaves for a trip to the Middle East this week and Republicans are left behind to continue to attack his approach.

Obama will visit Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, meeting with heads of state and discussing peace prospects, which will remind voters back home that he is more than just another politician; he's the president of the United States.

And while the White House has sought to keep expectations of any peace breakthroughs low, Obama is slated to give a speech in Jerusalem, and he will likely garner strong press for his first trip to Israel as president.

[SEE: Political cartoons on the Middle East]

"President Obama looks forward to working closely with the prime minister and the new government to address the many challenges we face and advance our shared interest in peace and security," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Saturday of Obama's upcoming meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But stateside, Republicans may look more like more typical politicians as they continue to skirmish with Democrats over passing a budget. House Republicans are scheduled to move ahead and vote on their budget proposal that would balance the budget over the next 10 years by making a series of drastic cuts. Senate Democrats passed their own version Thursday out of committee, which included nearly $1 trillion in new tax increases.

House Speaker John Boehner, appearing Sunday on ABC's This Week, continued to sound pessimistic about the possibility of reaching agreement with Obama following the president's series of Capitol Hill trips meant to woo Republicans.

"I don't know whether we can come to a big agreement," Boehner said.

[READ: Senate Poised to Pass Continuing Resolution]

Republicans and Democrats continue to differ in how best to lower the $16 trillion deficit; Obama and top Senate Democrats say taxes should increase on the wealthiest by closing certain loopholes in addition to cutting spending, but Republicans say taxes have been increased enough.

"The president got his tax hikes on January the 1st. The talk about raising revenue is over. It's time to deal with the spending problem," Boehner said.

Vice President Joe Biden will also be on the diplomatic circuit, having arrived in Rome Monday as part of the White House's papal delegation.

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