News / USA

Obama And Republicans Explore Compromise

President Barack Obama talks with Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., at the conclusion of a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, Nov. 30, 2010. Listening at right are: Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Jon Kyl, R-
President Barack Obama talks with Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., at the conclusion of a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, Nov. 30, 2010. Listening at right are: Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Jon Kyl, R-

In U.S. politics, there were signs of encouragement this week following the first post-election meeting between President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders. Mr. Obama faces a new political reality in January when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives and strengthen their minority in the Senate. Many experts see this latest version of divided government as a recipe for gridlock over the next two years. But that has not always been the case in the past.

The political tone from both sides seemed more positive than negative after their first meeting.

Republican leaders called it polite and frank, while President Obama described it as very productive.

"The American people did not vote for gridlock," said President Obama. "They did not vote for unyielding partisanship. They are demanding cooperation and they are demanding progress and they will hold all of us, and I mean all of us, accountable for it."

It is too early to tell, of course, whether the improved rhetoric will lead to actual cooperation and action in Congress.

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said there are recent examples of the two political parties finding common ground in Washington.

"Americans have preferred divided government more often than not since World War II," said McConnell. "It is not unusual to find ourselves to be in the position we will be in, in the 112th Congress. It is also important to remember that some of these periods when you have had divided government have been quite productive."

The most recent example took place during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, prompting a bitter clash with Republicans that led to two government shutdowns late in 1995.

Despite that rough start, Mr. Clinton and Republican congressional leaders were able to find common ground on international trade and welfare reform, bipartisan achievements that set the stage for the president's re-election in 1996.

In his 1996 State of the Union Address, President Clinton acknowledged the new political reality in Washington.

"The era of big government is over," said Clinton. "But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves."

Former Clinton strategist Mark Penn says there may be some lessons in that experience for President Obama.

"People look at what happened with President Clinton and saw what happened after the 1994 midterms that we had years of bipartisan action even though both houses of Congress moved into Republican hands," said Penn. "I think a lot of Americans are hoping we are going to have that kind of action, but a lot of columnists are saying it looks like gridlock so far."

In 1981, Republican Ronald Reagan brought conservative change to Washington when he was inaugurated president after defeating Democrat Jimmy Carter.

"In this present crisis government is not the solution to our problem," said Reagan. "Government is the problem."

Mr. Reagan suffered congressional losses in his first midterm election in 1982, but was able to find some areas of compromise with the Democratic Speaker of the House, Representative Tip O'Neill of Massachusetts.

Republican gains in last month's election were fueled in part by the discontent of independent and moderate voters with President Obama's agenda, many of whom had supported candidate Obama two years ago.

Karlyn Bowman monitors public opinion for the American Enterprise Institute in Washington:

"Independents swung massively in the GOP [Republican] direction," she said. "This is the third election in a row in which independents voted out the party in power, this time by 55 to 39 percent. In 2006 they voted for the Democrats by roughly the same margin."

Strategist Mark Penn says the public, and especially independent voters, will be watching for signs of change from Mr. Obama when he gives the annual State of the Union Address in January.

"We have not seen the State of the Union [Address] yet, and that will really tell you, whether on taxes, health care, energy, government spending, the deficit he is going to move to the center or stick to the current course," he said.

The early indications are that the public does not expect much in the way of cooperation. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 73 percent of those asked believe President Obama and the Republicans are too far apart to reach a compromise on major issues.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid