For Obama and Team, Calm, Not Crisis, in Latest Fiscal Battle

February 21, 2013

President Obama is just seven days away from the first significant test of his second term as deep spending cuts loom, yet inside the White House a clear sense of confidence stands in contrast to the air of crisis that surrounded previous fiscal showdowns with Republicans.

The confrontation holds peril for both the president and Republicans. But for now, Mr. Obama believes he is acting from a greater position of strength, advisers say, pointing to several recent polls that show he holds an upper hand in the budget debate. Yet his standing would be at risk if the so-called sequester caused economic growth to collapse.

With little sign of movement as the March 1 deadline approaches, the president placed calls on Thursday to Speaker John A. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, in an outreach that Republicans interpreted as aimed as much at fending off criticism for not reaching out sooner to Congressional leaders as trying to open a new dialogue.

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