News

Obama Balances Political Coalitions on Range of Issues

U.S. President Barack Obama has charted a complicated political course over the next few months. Mr. Obama is rallying Democrats to support health-care reform in Congress. But he is also counting on Republican help for his new strategy on Afghanistan.

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. President Barack Obama has charted a complicated political course over the next few months.  Mr. Obama is rallying Democrats to support health-care reform in Congress.  But he is also counting on Republican help for his new strategy on Afghanistan. 

Each day seems to bring new challenges for a president who just marked his first 10 months in office.

Only days after announcing his new strategy on Afghanistan, which includes sending an additional 30,000 U.S. troops, Mr. Obama quickly refocused on the domestic economy and getting unemployed Americans back to work.

"But Americans who have desperately been looking for work for months, some of them maybe for a year or longer, they cannot wait and we will not wait," said President Obama. "We need to do everything we can right now to get our businesses hiring again so that our friends and our neighbors can go back to work."

The administration did get a small bit of good news with word that the unemployment rate last month had dropped from 10.2 to 10 percent.  But even the president's Democratic allies in Congress acknowledge that cutting the jobless rate quickly is an uphill battle and a lack of progress could leave them vulnerable during next year's congressional midterm elections.

The Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, says there is little debate about the top priority in the year ahead.

"Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs," said Nancy Pelosi. "It is all about jobs and as we work on these issues we always are working on the issue of jobs creation."

At the same time, the president is trying to secure congressional passage of a sweeping health care reform plan.  Republicans are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the multi-billion-dollar plan based on cost projections, which means the president must rely on Democratic unity to pass his signature domestic priority by early next year.

This is the House Republican leader, Congressman John Boehner of Ohio:

"The first thing that has to happen is that the job-killing agenda that the president supports that is moving through the Congress has to be stopped," said John Boehner.

A major political complication is the president's recently announced strategy on Afghanistan.  Some Democrats have criticized the plan, especially the deployment of tens of thousands of additional troops.

Among them is Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who appeared on ABC's 'This Week' program.

"We are operating at huge deficits in this country and the idea of continuing to spend for this war flies right in the face of the American people's priority to bring spending down," said Russ Feingold.

Republicans were generally supportive of the additional troop deployment, though several questioned the president's determination to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the middle of 2011.

The president's decision on Afghanistan comes at a time when opinion polls show the public is divided over the question of sending more troops and the future U.S. role in that country.

The president's own approval ratings have come down in recent months and now hover at about 50-percent.

Tom DeFrank is a longtime political observer and the Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News.

"And he has done it in spite of the fact that Afghanistan has really polarized American public opinion," said Tom DeFrank. "Americans are basically divided, more or less evenly, on the wisdom of going ahead.  But at the same time he has muted the criticism from the Republicans."

One recent public-opinion survey suggests that Americans in general have become more isolationist in recent years and less willing to commit resources on missions abroad, especially given economic problems at home.

The poll was conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations and found that 49 percent of those asked agreed with the statement that the United States should mind its own business.

James Lindsay is the studies director for the Council on Foreign Relations:

"Which is why arguments about cost will become more important politically, both because people will want to know why we are not spending money here at home, and also the extent to which people are worried about the deficit," said James Lindsay.

Analysts say that for the foreseeable future the president will have to maintain a delicate and complicated political calculation.

Mr. Obama will continue to rely on Democrats to counter Republican objections over his health-care reform efforts.  At the same time, the president will reach out to Republicans for support on national security issues, particularly Afghanistan, where some members of his own Democratic Party have chosen to break with him.  
 

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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs