Republicans force President Obama into a corner

The Week

The president has now lost much of his leverage over the GOP on spending cuts

When President Obama announced he would not force a government shutdown over the automatic spending cuts that took place on Friday, he lost significant leverage in his dealings with Congressional Republicans. The sequester will now almost certainly remain in place for months, if not even longer.

White House officials had predicted for months that Republicans would cave by agreeing to new revenue from closing tax loopholes. But they never did.

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The president's strategy is now down to this: He'll crisscross the country highlighting how Americans are hurt by the spending cuts forced by the sequester and hope resulting pressure will force Republicans back to the negotiating table.

But as John Avlon notes, it's a dangerous game.

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While polls show Americans more likely to blame Republicans for the obstructive gridlock than the president, if the economy turns south and chaos continues to reign supreme, ultimately people will blame the president. There are no doubt some conservative strategists counseling a hard-line betting on this outcome with an eye toward the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Republicans have forced the president into a corner. GOP aides tell Roll Call that they think the sequester will affect Democratic constituencies more deeply than Republicans' and they feel they can pacify their own side longer than Democrats can keep their members in line.

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The only thing President Obama can do now is wait.

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