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

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

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid