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Obama's Left-Side Headache

If the #cromnibus debate is a sign of what's to come, President Obama may wish he had given Elizabeth Warren the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau post she wanted.
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Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

From trade to taxes, President Barack Obama is looking for areas to cut deals with the new congressional Republican majority and burnish his legacy.  Judging by the budget debate this week, at least one obstacle to bipartisanship will be the progressives in his own party, who will have a more influential voice in a slimmed-down caucus when Congress returns in January.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi gave the White House palpitations Thursday when she railed against the $1.1 trillion government spending bill that the president supported, delaying the vote for hours and increasing the risk of a second government shutdown in as many years. Obama needed to make personal calls to House Democrats to shore up support, and sent his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, to the Capitol to do the same. The announcement on Friday that Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio will serve as the top Democrat on the Banking Committee, released in the midst of the spending fight that had been held up by a debate over derivatives, foreshadowed more resistance. The pro-labor senator's news release came complete with statements of support from leaders of credit unions and homeless and housing advocates, rather than Wall Street titans.