(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Susan Davis, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON President Obama visited with congressional Democrats Wednesday ahead of the August recess to rally the party faithful around his economic agenda.
"Jobs. Middle class. Growth," Obama said, when asked upon leaving a private meeting with House Democrats on what his message was to the rank-and-file.
Obama is seeking to reinvigorate the economic debate ahead of two impending showdowns with congressional Republicans later this year: to fund the government and prevent a federal shutdown, and to increase the nation's borrowing limit.
Obama reiterated that he will not negotiate with Republicans seeking conditions on raising the debt ceiling, despite House Speaker John Boehner's insistence that any increase be paired with commensurate spending cuts and reforms.
Boehner has consistently said he does not expect either a shutdown or a default will occur. But there is no clear path forward on how to resolve either. "I'm confident that when we get into the fall, we'll find -- it may be a messy process, but I suspect we'll find a way to get there," Boehner told reporters Wednesday.
The president's latest proposal, outlined Tuesday, to revamp the corporate tax code in exchange for temporary revenue to fund infrastructure projects landed with a thud among Republicans, who continue to oppose any new proposals that would increase federal revenues.
The president met separately with House and Senate Democrats. Lawmakers said the president gave opening remarks and opened the sessions up to questions-and-answers in which he was queried on implementation of the Affordable Care Act, his intentions to help Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections, and his decision-making on selecting the next chairman of the Federal Reserve.
"There's a lot of enthusiasm for his focus on jobs," said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who said most of the Senate session focused on the economy.
"Our door is open, we're ready to work with anyone who wants to the right thing for the economy and the middle class. And so is the president," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
"He emerged with a unified caucus behind him," added Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who said Democrats will hammer the president's economic message over the August recess.