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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid