Fore! Obama Hits Links with Grand Bargain-Favoring GOP Senators

Golf clubs outside the south portico of the White House late last year. (AFP/Brendan SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images)

It’s cool and damp in Washington. But that isn’t keeping President Barack Obama from getting in a round of golf. Intercepts will leave the inevitable presidential golfing jokes to others. But it’s worth noting Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Bob Corker of Tennessee will be part of Obama’s foursome. Both are advocates of the kind of “grand bargain” fiscal deal needed to lessen or totally replace planned cuts to national defense spending.

The unseasonably chilly conditions the trio and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado will encounter provide a fitting metaphor for the grand-bargain issue, which they likely will discuss. After all, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Ranking Member James Inhofe, R-Okla., said Friday “there has been virtually no sign of movement toward a bipartisan agreement.”

Each of Obama’s golfing partners has talked forcefully and passionately about striking a “grand bargain” accord this year. Is this the beginning of what experts say is the second-term president’s last chance to get a big fiscal bill through Congress?

Udall has said “everything” should be “on the table.” And Chambliss was considered the GOP leader of the so-called “gang of six,” a group of three Republican and three Democratic senators that has since 2011 floated “grand bargain” options.

Corker is a confidant of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. He told Defense News in late March that congressional Republicans and Obama need to reach a “grand bargain” this summer for it to actually become law and deal with twin $500 billion, decade-spanning cuts to planned defense and domestic spending:

“I think the next four months are really important because of the momentum that we have. I think we have to get some kind of agreement in that time to get a real plan in place this year.”

Corker and other Republican senators have said for months there are many fiscal and spending issues on which they and Obama agree. It’s likely those things will come up in between drives, chip shots, puts, and the occasional friendly mulligan.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett