Facing increasing questions and doubts from within his own party, President Barack Obama worked Monday to rally Democratic members of Congress with platitudes, saying "we are all in this together" and warning those with doubts that the public stands behind him and his agenda.
For Obama, the attempt to rally Democrats is important as he heads off on his first trip to Europe to face an international community that is not sold on his economic efforts.
Reports from inside the closed door meeting on Capitol Hill suggest Democrats were mainly supportive but still wary, urging the President to focus on the economy and tone down his shotgun approach to other problems.
In other words, the jury is still out, even among those in the President’s own party.
Reassuring House Democrats that "we are in this together," President Barack Obama predicted that unity will help their party maintain its high standing with the public as they pursue an ambitious agenda in the face of economic turmoil.
The House and Senate are set this week to take up companion budget outlines that constitute Congress’ initial response to the $3.6 trillion fiscal plan for 2010 that Obama proposed last month.
On the eve of his first trip to Europe, the president rallied lawmakers Monday in a closed-door session in the Capitol. He said they must deal with education, health care and clean energy in spite of the weak economy.
Obama said the reason his budget predicts such large deficits is not because of new spending for those three top agenda items but because of structural deficits that he inherited.
Speaking to fiscal hawks in the House, Obama said he is "serious as a heart attack" about addressing the nation’s long-term deficit problems, according to notes taken by a House aide who required anonymity to describe the private session.
"We are in this together," Obama said.