News / USA

Can Obama, Congressional Republicans Find Common Ground?

The Capitol is seen at sunrise the morning after the midterm elections, 03 Nov 2010
The Capitol is seen at sunrise the morning after the midterm elections, 03 Nov 2010
TEXT SIZE - +

Two years after promising to bring change to Washington, Democratic President Barack Obama faces the new political reality of Republicans promising change of their own after winning back control of the House of Representatives.  Republicans say Tuesday's congressional midterm elections were a rebuke of the president and his policies.  Mr. Obama says it is a call from the American public for bipartisan governance.  

Republicans easily retook the House, but they fell short of winning back the Senate.  It was a remarkable comeback for a political party declared irrelevant by some Democrats only two years ago in the wake of Barack Obama's presidential victory and expanded Democratic Party majorities in the House and the Senate.

President Barack Obama waves as he turns to leave after a news conference in the East Room of the White House, 03 Nov 2010
President Barack Obama waves as he turns to leave after a news conference in the East Room of the White House, 03 Nov 2010

The president acknowledged the public mood in his first news conference since Tuesday's elections.  He said he is committed to finding areas of cooperation with the new Republican Party majority in the House.

"No one party will be able to dictate where we go from here, and that we must find common ground in order to make progress on some uncommonly difficult challenges," the president said.  "And I told [Ohio Republican Representative] John Boehner and [Kentucky Republican Senator] Mitch McConnell last night that I am very eager to sit down with members of both parties and figure out how we can move forward together."

Although they narrowly missed gaining enough seats to win a majority in the Senate, Republicans are emboldened by Tuesday's gains overall and they eager to reduce the size of government, cut federal spending and lower taxes.

Ohio Republican Representative John Boehner is expected to become the next Speaker of the House.  He told reporters that cooperation will depend on the willingness of the president and his fellow Democrats to change.

US Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is seen on a television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, 03 Nov 2010
US Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, is seen on a television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, 03 Nov 2010

"It is pretty clear that the Obama-[California Democratic Representative Nancy] Pelosi agenda is being rejected by the American people.  As I said last night, they want the president to change course.  And I think it is change course we will," said Boehner.

Voter exit surveys from Tuesday's elections show that Americans are worried about the economy more than any other issue, and that they are frustrated by the high unemployment rate -- which is 9.6 percent nationally.

But pollster John Zogby says the results should be read as a rejection of the Democrats more than an embrace of the Republicans.

"Frustration with the Democrats spelled victory for Republicans, but not love," he said.

Republicans say that the elections show that most Americans agree with their diagnosis that the Obama administration has spent too much money and run up the national debt too high.

But pollster Zogby says most people were focused on a more basic concern.

"Solid majorities say we will accept trillions of dollars being spent, but where are the jobs?  And where is the progress?  And so essentially, that is wherein a lot of the anger comes," Zogby said.

The key question is:  What happens next?  Will the president and Republicans be able to find common ground on issues like the economy, foreign trade and climate change?

Many political analysts are skeptical, at least for now, including John Fortier of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute.

"Two parties, very polarized, and that will drive what we will see after the election, which I expect will be a significant amount of gridlock," he said.

Several incoming Republican lawmakers were strongly supported by grassroots conservative and libertarian activists from the Tea Party movement, which has made shrinking the size of government its top priority.

University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato says he sees a showdown coming because many of the elected Tea Party supporters already have signaled that they are more interested in principle than compromise.

"I have seen many of the Tea Party leaders say, 'Our people are going to Washington to change things; we are not going to compromise and the others are going to have to come along with us,' said Sabato."

Another complicating factor that might make bipartisan cooperation difficult is the 2012 presidential election.  Although still two years away, potential Republican White House contenders are already making preparations for a presidential run that will likely begin in earnest early next year when candidates start raising money and recruiting supporters.

Again, political analyst John Fortier:

Former President Bill Clinton holds up four-month old Natalie Fontana of Washingtonville, N.Y. while making a campaign stop for Rep. John Hall in Harriman, N.Y., 30 Oct 2010
Former President Bill Clinton holds up four-month old Natalie Fontana of Washingtonville, N.Y. while making a campaign stop for Rep. John Hall in Harriman, N.Y., 30 Oct 2010

"You will see presidential candidates on the Republican side announcing that they are running for president, and that will be another dynamic, which is likely to pull the parties apart as the presidential candidates on the Republican side argue amongst themselves, probably appeal to a more conservative primary electorate, and are less likely to be voicing interest in cooperation with the president," Sabato added.

Former Democratic President Bill Clinton faced a similar challenge following the 1994 midterm elections when Republicans were swept to power in the House and Senate.  Mr. Clinton confronted the Republicans on some issues and cooperated with them on others - a pattern, analysts say, that contributed to his reelection in 1996.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid