WITH a heavy heart, President Barack Obama affixed his signature to a law raising government’s debt ceiling and slashing budget deficits by at least $2.1 trillion in the next 10 years.

But he took a final shot at the Republican opposition for what he called a manufactured and avoidable crisis.

The highly contentious debt agreement between the White House and Republican-led Congress came just hours before the draconian government default deadline on its obligations.

Obama made it clear it was not the deal he would have wanted.

“But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need, and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year,” he said Sunday at a hastily-convened press briefing announcing the agreement.

He made a quick exit without taking any questions from the Washington press corps.

But the deal sowed unease among middle and lower income Americans.

Across the country, however, there was some relief but the anxiety was aimed at Obama.

“This has eroded my faith in government, because there was such a high when Obama came in,” a newspaper quoted a resident of Los Angeles.

More pointedly, Obama caved in to what is viewed as GOP extortion through its willingness to risk financial collapse unless it gets what it wants, especially its extreme Tea Party members.

And this is not the first time Obama withered in the face of partisan threats.

Last December, he extended the Bush tax cuts and again he surrendered in the spring when the GOP-led House threatened to shut down the government.

For now, Moody’s Investors Service did not lower the government’s AAA credit rating.

But Standard & Poor’s and its rivals are threatening to remove the United States from their lists of risk-free borrowers.

The rating agencies contend that the cut in spending does not actually reduce federal spending. By the end of the 10-year deal, the federal debt would be much larger than it is today because the new law does not address federal spending on health care.

On a positive note, as an aftermath of the debt agreement averting a U.S. default, the Philippine peso recorded its strongest level in 39 months, breaching the P41 to S1 mark.

The new law is not a cure-all for what ails the U.S. economy.

But it’s an important first step.