News / USA

Obama Agenda Faces Stiff Opposition in 2011

President Barack Obama (file photo)
President Barack Obama (file photo)


Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama made progress on an ambitious agenda in 2010. But a larger and stronger contingent of Republicans in Congress will present much stiffer opposition in 2011.  

President Obama scored a number of legislative victories in 2010.

He signed into law tougher regulation of U.S. financial institutions, stronger security along the border with Mexico, and one of his top priorities of the year: sweeping reform of the way Americans pay for health care.

But as the nation's economy stagnated, so did the president's approval ratings.

And in November, voters handed opposition Republicans control of the House of Representatives, and sent Obama a message.

As a result, many analysts agree that the president will have a difficult time getting legislation passed in 2011. "And the big question the people are wondering is, 'Are we going to have two years of gridlock, or are we going to have two years of bipartisan accomplishment?,'" said Democratic Party strategist Mark Penn.

Democrats and Republicans differ about the meaning of November's election results.  

President Obama sees it as a call for the two parties to work together. "The American people did not vote for gridlock.  They didn't vote for unyielding partisanship. They're demanding cooperation and they're demanding progress," he said.

But conservative commentator Amy Holmes says the election results were a rejection of Mr. Obama's programs. "This was the biggest sweep since 1938, and voters have said that they do not want what they consider this left-wing, liberal, big-government agenda," she said.

President Obama faces a tough battle in 2011 to preserve his signature accomplishment of 2010, passage of health care reform.

Republicans want to overturn the law. And their new majority in the House, and larger minority in the Senate, could hamper the president's initiatives on climate change and immigration reform.  

"Right now I think the president has got to do two key things: move to the center, focus on the economy," said Penn

Conservative commentator Amy Holmes also says the president should move to the political center. "I think in the next two years, if President Obama does move to the center, if he does triangulate, much like Bill Clinton did, and pursue policies where there is common ground with Republicans, he can get small things done," she said.

One unannounced priority is getting the president's re-election campaign off to a successful start.

Penn helped President Bill Clinton overcome big midterm election losses in 1994 and win re-election two years later. He says Mr. Obama can do the same in 2012. "So if he could get unemployment down, if he moves to the center, he has a really solid base of supporters. A lot of people in the country like him and they want him to succeed," Penn said.

Penn, Holmes and many other political analysts agree that in politics, two years is a lifetime.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs