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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid