Just days after the opposition Republican Party made big gains in the U.S. midterm election, and already sparks are flying. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell labels the election a vote against President Barack Obama's agenda. But the president sees it differently, as a signal that Americans are impatient for his policies to show success.
The Republican Party leader of the U.S. Senate says his priority over the next two years is to block the Democrats at every turn, and in turn block the president from re-election in 2012. "The only way to do all those things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things," said Senator Mitch McConnell. He lays claim to the will of the people. Voters gave Republicans significant gains in Congress, more seats in the still Democrat-controlled Senate, and a solid majority in the House of Representatives.
"The mandate for change is directed at the other guys," he said.
Compare that to how President Obama interpreted voter displeasure. "What they were expressing great frustration about is the fact that we haven't made enough progress on the economy," the President said.
McConnell says his party will repeatedly vote against Mr. Obama's initiatives. "On health care, that means we can and should propose and vote on straight repeal repeatedly," he said.
And, the president's different view. "I think we'd be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years re-litigate arguments that we had over the last two years," he said.
"This has the makings of total breakdown of the government," said Morton Kondracke of Roll Call. He and other political analysts are predicting a clash of ideas on Capitol Hill. "We will have moved from the most productive Congress in the last 50 years to one of the least productive in our lifetime," said Norman Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute.
Ornstein predicts the power will shift to the president, enacting policy through executive order, executive agreements or regulatory action.
But for now, the president is inviting congressional leaders to the White House for a November 18 meeting. "I want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people's agenda forward," Mr. Obama said.
"If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to move in our direction," said Senator McConnell.