WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama was poised to claim a victory in the shutdown-and-debt showdown with Republicans as Congress worked toward a deal — except, perhaps, on the one demand he wanted most.
The president's health care law seems likely to emerge unscathed or barely nicked, and he is not offering budget cuts in exchange for a debt limit increase as he did in 2011. But throughout the 15-day government shutdown, Obama has said he is not only trying to resolve this crisis, but to prevent a sequel.
The cycle of lurching from deadline to deadline, crafting fiscal policy under threat of federal default or government shutdown, must end, the president said. He declared he would not negotiate under those threats.
But the deals under discussion in both chambers appear likely to fall short of Obama's ambitious goal. Rather than breaking the cycle, the proposals set up two new deadlines — moving the action a few months down the road and settling none of the fiscal disputes at the root of much of the brinkmanship.
To get to that point, the White House abandoned its no-negotiation stance and prepared to make concessions aimed at coaxing Republican support to reopen the government and lift the debt limit.
Democrats say those concessions are small enough to reinforce Obama's insistence that the party not give Republicans major victories in return for a debt limit increase.
But the approach under consideration in Congress offers no assurances that it will establish a new normal. On Tuesday, there was little evidence that House Republicans were prepared to concede.
"Nobody likes kicking the can down the road," Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said, "but if the president wants to do that, and he's got the bully pulpit, and we're unable to stop him from kicking the can all the way down the road, maybe having him kick it only a couple months down the road is the best we can do."