Nate Silver — center-left and one of the sharpest political prognosticators working today — doesn’t seem too impressed with the President’s negotiating skills:
These results seem to suggest that Mr. Obama left something on the table. That is, Mr. Obama could have shifted the deal tangibly toward the left and still gotten a bill through without too much of a problem. For instance, even if all members of the Tea Party Caucus had voted against the bill, it would still have passed 237-to-193, and that’s with 95 Democrats voting against it.
Specifically, it seems likely that Mr. Obama could have gotten an extension of the payroll tax cut included in the bill, or unemployment benefits, either of which would have had a stimulative effect. Some Republicans would have complained that the new deal expanded rather than contracted the deficit in 2012, and Mr. Obama would have lost some of their votes. But this stimulus spending wouldn’t have overtly violated their highest-priority goals (no new taxes, and a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar in borrowing authority). And Mr. Obama, evidently, had a few Republican votes he could afford to lose.
Considering that Obama had pretty much talked his way out of the negotiations a week before they were over, maybe he didn’t do half-bad.
Or does that make his performance even worse?
I report, you decide.