Now, legislators risk looking politically cynical by seeking to weaken the measures enacted to try to force them to confront tough questions regarding deficit reduction, such as reforms to popular entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The two sides seemingly had made progress early last week on forging a $2 trillion deficit reduction deal that included new revenue sought by Obama and spending cuts and entitlement changes desired by Boehner.

Obama's latest offer set $400,000 as the income threshold for a tax rate increase, up from his original plan of $250,000. It also included a new formula for the consumer price index applied to some entitlement benefits, much to the chagrin of liberals.

Called chained CPI, the new formula includes assumptions on consumer habits in response to rising prices, such as seeking cheaper alternatives, and would result in smaller benefit increases in future years.

Statistics supplied by opponents say the change would mean Social Security recipients would get $6,000 less in benefits over the first 15 years of chained CPI.

Liberal groups sought to mount a pressure campaign against including the chained CPI after news emerged this week that Obama was willing to include it, calling the plan a betrayal of senior citizens who had contributed throughout their lives for their benefits.

For his part, Boehner conceded on increased tax revenue, including higher rates on top income brackets and eliminating some deductions and loopholes.