(Bloomberg News) Democratic lawmakers are openly questioning whether they can trust President Barack Obama to cut future deals with Republicans, while disappointment among party activists is raising doubts about their investment in his 2012 re-election campaign.
"Come on, got any other jokes?" cracked Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, when asked if Obama bargained hard in negotiations with congressional Republicans.
After Obama backed off his demand for new revenue in the deal that passed the House last night to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit, several lawmakers said they don't know whether he can be counted on to stand firm on raising taxes on the wealthy and protecting programs such as Medicare.
"There was caving this time," Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, said. "Why don't you think there would be caving next time?"
The months-long debate that brought the government to the brink of a default on its obligations took a political toll on both sides. The Republican base isn't cheering every element of the agreement and 66 of the party's lawmakers voted against the deal in the House. The decision by House Republicans to stage a showdown isn't sitting well with the public either.
In a July 20-24 Pew Research Center poll, 66 percent of respondents disapproved of the job Republican leaders in Congress are doing, while 25 percent approved. By comparison, 48 percent disapproved of how Obama is handling his job and 44 percent approved.
Still, Republican lawmakers yesterday generally applauded House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, for negotiating the best deal they could.
The Obama administration, Engel said, takes congressional Democrats for granted. "I think they figure that House Democrats are in the minority, so we're just around from the ride," he said.
The loss of confidence in Obama by Democrats in Congress comes after the president backed off a series of demands during negotiations, clearing the way for a vote to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.