Partisans reacted to the leaked White House budget details reported by several news outlets Friday, offering optimism and reluctant praise, while certain groups outlined for cuts took aim.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to officially release his budget Wednesday, but top officials shared that it would include constraints on entitlement growth, demonstrating his continued willingness to confront parts of his party's liberal wing. Obama had offered Republicans similar cuts during previous debt negotiations.
Isabel Sawhill, a budget expert at the Brookings Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, says Obama's budget volley is likely aimed at both winning the public debate and attracting support from Senate Republicans.
"If you can get something in the Senate, then you could put the House on the spot, which is kind of what he did in the fiscal cliff situation and it worked really well," she says, adding that Obama is unlikely to get to get much of any of his proposal passed by Congress.
"I don't think this is probably going to resolve the impasse and I just can't see any reconciliation," Sawhill says. "If anything is enacted it's probably going to be small. The significance of this is in terms of our politics and public opinion, not in making huge progress in reducing our out-year deficits."
Lauren Crawford, a former presidential campaign aide for Hillary Clinton, who is currently working at the consulting firm Hamilton Place Strategies, says she doesn't see Obama's offer as a compromise to House Republicans who urged him to "get serious" by proposing entitlement cuts.
"In doing this, he's bringing some of them down in a realistic way and he's also not compromising with Republicans, but saying 'Look, chained CPI is something Republicans could have gotten as a win themselves back in December,' and now Obama can take that as a win," she says.
Chained CPI refers to a method of tying rising costs to inflation – in a way that most economists say better reflects reality – which will slow the growth of entitlement programs over a period of time, an idea that Republicans support and liberals generally oppose.
Already, pro-Social Security and Medicare groups have voiced their opposition to the president's proposal, but Crawford says it's the cost of doing business.
"Each political party ticks off their base from time to time, but you've got to in order to get something done," she says.
One former Republican campaign and party official says while the president failed to lead policy debates his first term, he deserves credit for doing so now.
"By and large, he left the negotiating up to the leaders of his party in Congress," he says, speaking under the condition of anonymity. "But I have seen since the election him be more forthcoming about what he actually believes, and speak more plainly about it and make proposals that I think I more closely suspected were his beliefs."
The GOP official says if it turns out Obama is serious about advancing negotiations, then he deserves credit.
"If this is about him going the distance in terms of negotiation with Republicans then, yes, the Speaker in particular, but also Senate Republicans, too, will have to come to the table and show that they are willing to negotiate with him," he says. "If he truly is willing to negotiate on the advancement of the ideas he's put in the budget, I think it's refreshing and I would consider it a good start to the debate."
House Republicans continued to attack the president ahead of his official budget unveiling for failing to propose something that would eventually erase the $16 trillion in federal debt.
"At some point we need to solve our spending problem, and what the president has offered would leave us with a budget that never balances," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a press release. "In reality, he's moved in the wrong direction, routinely taking off the table entitlement reforms he's previously told me he could support."