News / USA

    Obama, Republicans Face New Political Landscape

    House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner, of Ohio, center, Republican Majority Transition Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., second from left, and others walk to a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, 10 Nov 2010
    House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner, of Ohio, center, Republican Majority Transition Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., second from left, and others walk to a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, 10 Nov 2010

    President Barack Obama faces an altered U.S. political landscape in the aftermath of this month's midterm elections.  Come January, Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives and they will hold six additional seats in the Senate.

    The Republicans, who are eagerly preparing for their majority in the House, are vowing to push a congressional agenda focused on cutting taxes and government spending.

    Hiring freeze

    Republican House leader John Boehner is expected to become the next Speaker of the House.  He spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

    "We say that there ought to be a freeze on the hiring of new federal employees and, frankly, we ought to freeze the pay," he said.

    Parties got the message

    President Barack Obama arrives to attend the G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010.
    President Barack Obama arrives to attend the G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010.

    Before he left last week on a 10-day trip to Asia, President Obama said the message he got from the election results was that voters want the White House and Congress to focus on the economy and jobs after the new Congress is seated in January.

    "The American people don't want us just standing still and they don't want us engaged in gridlock," said Mr. Obama. "They want us to do the people's business."

    Republicans have a different read on what the election results mean.  With significant gains in the House and the Senate, Republican congressional leaders say voters are demanding action on the priorities they set during the campaign, particularly the push to reduce the size of government.

    "So the voters didn't suddenly fall in love with Republicans.  We know that," said Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "They fell out of love with Democrats.   And while they may have voted to send more Republicans to Washington, they are sending them here with clear marching orders."

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington (File Photo)
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington (File Photo)

    Voters' mood swing

    Voters rewarded Republicans this year, just as they did Democrats in the 2006 and 2008 elections.  The recent public mood swings suggest a very fickle electorate, says Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women's Forum.

    "Both Republicans and Democrats have to work together.  They have to be able to show that over the next two years they are actually going to do something that is going to cut the deficit and is going to add to private sector job growth," said bernard.  "And if they don't, this electorate has demonstrated that they will kick them out in two years as well."


    But it is unclear to what extent either major political party is willing to compromise.  Most analysts say Republicans will try to assert themselves early in the new Congress, focusing on issues like cutting government spending and repealing the president's health care law, which passed Congress with only Democratic support.

    Confrontation in Congress

    Political analyst Morton Kondracke says a renewed congressional battle over the health care reform law could spark a broader confrontation between President Obama and Republican leaders that could lead to a government shutdown.

    "If they just don't appropriate that money, this inhibits the ability of the administration to follow through on health care reform and could be the makings, if there is a big defunding effort underway, could be the makings of a government shutdown," said Kondracke.

    President Obama faces a political landscape somewhat similar to the one that confronted Bill Clinton following the 1994 midterm elections, when Republicans took control of the House and Senate.

    Mr. Clinton confronted Republicans on some issues but found areas of compromise on others, a strategy that helped him win reelection in 1996.

    Some Democrats are looking for a repeat of that strategy, including former Texas Representative Martin Frost.

    "The question is whether the president is going to be Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton?  And I think this issue is open.  I think that Democratic leaders have got to realize that the public didn't like what they were selling, and that Democratic leaders and the president have to make a sincere effort at bipartisanship because the public doesn't want gridlock," said frost.  "The public wants some action on the economy."

    The president and congressional Republicans will also be looking ahead to the next presidential election in 2012, when Mr. Obama presumably will seek reelection.

    Political environment changes

    Although some analysts see the recent Democratic midterm losses as a danger sign for the president, polling expert Frank Newport says the political environment two years from now could be completely different.

    "Certainly for Bill Clinton, who looked to be in a very bad position in 1994, his party had lost over 50 [House] seats, lost control of Congress, and yet he came back in 1996 and won reelection handily, all by way of saying that two years is an eternity in politics," said Newport.  "So what happens now probably doesn't give us much clue at all as to what is going to be happening in the 2012 presidential election."

    Like Democrat Bill Clinton, former Republican President Ronald Reagan won reelection in 1984 after his party endured significant losses in the congressional midterm elections of 1982.

    You May Like

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Will New Russian Force Be 'Putin’s Personal Army'?

    With broad powers to control riots, suppress dissent, National Guard may be aimed at sending a message to West as much as keeping peace at home

    Foreign Media in Pyongyang Barred From North Korean Party Congress

    Hundreds of international journalists invited to cover historic party meeting barred from entering actual event

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora