Charles Black, a Bush campaign adviser, defended the decision to impose the deadline as a step that succeeded in serving as a reminder that the President "had a plan." He said that it would now allow the White House to put the ball "back in Congress' court."
But the view most often expressed in private on Capitol Hill and within the Bush camp was that the tactic had sown little but division.
By imposing the deadline, a House Democratic strategist contended, Bush created the conditions that heightened public attention and then was unable to get his own plan through Congress.
"We're not looking so impo'tant right now," one Bush aide agreed, cultivating a deliberate accent. "It's more like impotent."
The existence of the deadline also strained efforts of the House and Senate to hew to their individual legislative agendas, forcing both houses to revamp their earlier schedules and to spend substantial time considering the tax legislation.