Top Obama aide vents frustration with Congress

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 28, 2011 4:53 PM
Top Obama aide vents frustration with Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top aide to President Barack Obama expressed frustration on Friday with his fellow Democrats as well as Republican members of Congress for resisting the White House's domestic agenda.

The comments by Obama's chief of staff William Daley, made in an interview with the Politico newspaper, could add to tension that has arisen between Obama and some congressional Democrats.

"On the domestic side, both Democrats and Republicans have really made it very difficult for the president to be anything like a chief executive," Daley told Politico. "This has led to a kind of frustration."

Some Democrats have been unhappy with Obama's handling of this year's budget battles, viewing him as having been too willing to compromise with Republicans on their demands for spending cuts to cherished social programs.

"There's no question that Democrats haven't agreed, or some Democrats haven't agreed, with every position the president has taken on every issue," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Democrats were upset when word leaked out last summer about the shape of a "grand bargain" on deficit reduction that was discussed between Obama and Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner. Under discussion were changes to the Social Security retirement program that Democrats opposed.

Ultimately, Boehner walked away from the talks because his fellow Republicans balked.

Carney, seeming to play down Daley's comments, said it had been Republicans, not Democrats, who have thwarted the president's agenda.

"The obstacle to getting things done that the American people want done on the economy and jobs has been congressional Republicans," Carney said.

Obama this week took a series of actions on the economy, including steps to help struggling homeowners, college students and small businesses, that do not require congressional action.

Rolling out a new slogan, "We can't wait," Obama has pledged to take further executive actions.

The White House has sought to paint Republicans as obstructionists for impeding his $447 billion jobs package and the new executive actions are aimed at part in putting pressure on them to work with the administration on that legislation.

(Writing by Caren Bohan; Editing by Eric Walsh)