If my assumptions are correct, then the President cannot afford to veto a bill and have no compromise enacted. Even if doing so increases dramatically the chance of getting his top fiscal policy priority, and even if he would bear only a small portion of the political blame for a legislative failure and the pain of broad-based tax increases, his veto would trigger a recession that would severely damage his agenda at least in 2013.
President Obama’s veto threat decision is not just about fiscal policy, and it’s not just about who gets blamed for a legislative failure. It’s about whether the President wants to cause a recession in 2013 and hamstring his second term. No matter what he or his advisors say, he cannot afford to take that risk.