President Barack Obama is heading toward bruising fights on Capitol Hill on multiple fronts even before second-term Inauguration Day festivities fade.
Battle lines are forming in the Senate over his latest national-security team selections and in both chambers over his proposal to raise the government's borrowing limit. And an expected major White House push on gun-control is already encountering heavy, mostly GOP pushback — even though nothing specific is yet on the table.
On Monday, Obama brushed aside intensifying Republican objections to his choice of former Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. The president also was naming counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the CIA. Both choices are controversial but Hagel has drawn the most fire.
Republicans have questioned their former colleague's support for Israel and suggest he's soft on Iran. Some Democrats also have raised questions about Hagel. And Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, had been dogged by his links to harsh interrogation techniques.
On economic issues, ultimatums have been leveled on both sides.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky put further tax increases off the table in coming debt negotiations. "The tax issue is finished, over, completed," he declared Sunday.
Congress and Obama hiked income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as part of last week's "fiscal-cliff" negotiations — but Obama has made it clear he'd like to do more.
Meanwhile, Obama has warned he won't negotiate over raising the nation's debt limit, saying "one thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they've already racked up." The government technically hit its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit on Dec. 31 and the Treasury says it can ward off a government default only until February or March.
Former President George W. Bush proclaimed his 2004 re-election victory gave him "political capital" to spend on pushing his agenda. But it only amounted to loose change that got him little.
Now Obama is about to find out how much political goodwill he has in the bank.
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