After Unity, Some Democrats Push Back on Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Just two weeks after President Barack Obama saw his Democratic Party put up an unyielding front against Republicans, his coalition is showing signs of stress.

From health care to spying to pending budget deals, many congressional Democrats are challenging the administration and pushing for measures that the White House has not embraced.

Some Democrats are seeking to extend the enrollment period for new health-care exchanges. Others want to place restraints on National Security Administration surveillance capabilities. Still others are standing tough against any budget deal that uses long-term reductions in major benefit programs to offset cuts in defense.

Though focused on disparate issues, the Democrats’ anxieties are connected by timing and stand out all the more when contrasted with the remarkable unity the party displayed during the recent showdown over the partial government shutdown and the confrontation over raising the nation’s borrowing limit.

Obama and the Democrats emerged from the debt and shutdown clash with what they wanted: a reopened government, a higher debt ceiling and a Republican Party reeling in the depths of public opinion polls.

But within days, attention turned to the problem-riddled launch of the three-year-old health-care law’s enrollment stage and revelations that the U.S. had been secretly monitoring the communications of as many as 35 allied leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

And with new budget talks under way, Democratic Party liberals reiterated demands that Obama not agree to changes that reduce Social Security or Medicare benefits even in the unlikely event Republicans agree to increase budget revenues.

The fraying on the Democratic Party edges is hardly unraveling Obama’s support, and it pales when compared to the upheaval in the Republican Party as it distances itself from the tactics of tea party conservatives.

But the pushback from Democrats comes as Obama is trying to draw renewed attention to his agenda, including passage of an immigration overhaul, his jobs initiatives and the benefits of his health-care law.