Republicans are hitting back at President Obama as both sides move closer to a budget showdown that could suspend some operations of the government and perhaps cause Washington to default in paying some of its bills in the next few weeks.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, attacked Obama for negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin on ways to end the Syrian crisis but not negotiating seriously with House Republicans on ways to end the budget impasse. "While the president is happy to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, he won't engage with Congress" on a plan to end the budget stalemate, Boehner told reporters.
The House, controlled by Republicans, is preparing to vote shortly on a measure to continue government funding but only if Obama's health care law is not funded. The White House and congressional Democrats say they won't accept this plan, and Obama has called it attempted extortion.
In an email to reporters, the Republican National Committee underscored a number of negative stories in the news media about the Obama administration and the Democrats, and the RNC argued that the Democratic party is "in disarray."
RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski noted Boehner's criticism of Obama for not negotiating on the budget as an example of how the Democrats are being forced to play defense.
RNC officials also said that over-zealous liberals are on the march and appear to be exerting more influence on the Democratic party than they have since the 1990s. The liberals are now putting more pressure on Obama to fight what they consider excessive corporate power and to take on Wall Street, rather than focus squarely on helping Middle America and small business, GOP sources say.
In terms of state-level politics, Kukowski said Democratic party organizations in several Southern states are weak and are hurting the chances of Democrats to hold or gain Senate seats in the mid-term elections of 2014. Among the states cited are Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina.
It's all part of the jockeying by all sides in order to frame the debate over the budget and other issues.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.