News / USA

Obama Engages House Republicans on Economy, Health Reform, Urges Cooperation

Multimedia

Audio

President Barack Obama has urged Republicans in the House of Representatives to work with him on major national priorities, saying cooperation is essential to the country's economic recovery.  President's spoke to Republicans at their issues conference in Baltimore, Maryland and some of the give and take in an extraordinary exchange with his political opposition.

After the president's State of the Union Address, in which he warned of the harmful effects of divisive politics, Republicans said he had delivered rhetoric but no indications he was willing to change the direction of his policies.

Republicans have opposed his health care reform effort, asserting it would add to high deficits and heavy long-term debt.  They also point to the 10 percent national unemployment rate as proof that administration policies have not been effective.

The president told Republicans in Baltimore while he wants and values constructive debate, Americans in hard economic times do not want politics as usual in Washington: 

"I don't think they want more gridlock, I don't think they want more partisanship, I don't think they want more obstruction," said President Obama. "They didn't send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel cage match to see who comes out alive."

On Friday, President Obama was able to point to new figures showing the U.S. economy grew 5.7 percent, the second straight quarter of growth and fastest since 2003, as proof of progress in recovering from the recession. He has also proposed new tax incentives for small businesses.

He was blunt in underscoring his frustration with Republican opposition, seen in what he called "disappointing" party line votes, on his economic stimulus Congress approved early last year, and other measures.

"These are serious times and what is required by all of us, Democrats and Republicans, is to do what's right for our country, even if it's not always what is best for our politics," said Mr. Obama.

Representative Mike Pence of Indiana pressed the president on job losses, an issue of particular relevance in Baltimore where unemployment is high, and whether he would support Republican's call for major tax cuts:

"The kind of across-the-board tax relief that Republicans have advocated, that President [John] Kennedy advocated, that President Reagan advocated, and that has always been the means of stimulating broad-based economic growth," said Mike Pence.

Acknowledging again that his administration underestimated the severity of job losses, the president also noted that hundreds of thousands of jobs were already being lost when he began his presidency.

On health care, he took strong exception to Pence's assertion that he and majority Democrats have simply ignored specific Republican alternative proposals, and said this about Republican's tactic portraying health care legislation as a government takeover:

"If you were to listen to the debate, and frankly how some of you went after this bill, you would think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot," said President Obama. "I mean that's how you guys presented it."

The president also had this exchange with Tom Price of Georgia who criticized what he called numerous statements by the administration that Republicans had offered no ideas:

PRICE:  "You have repeatedly said, most recently [in] the State of the Union, that Republicans have offered no ideas and no solutions, in spite of the fact."

OBAMA:   "I don't think I said that, what I said was, in the context of health care, I remember that speech pretty well it was only two days ago, I said I welcome ideas that you might provide, I didn't say that you hadn't provided ideas, I said I welcome those ideas you will provide."

PRICE:  "Mr. President, multiple times from your administration there have come statements that Republicans have no ideas and no solutions."

It remains to be seen to what degree the president's personal appearance will move Republicans to work harder to find common ground with the president, and to shed a label applied to them in the president's first year:  the party of "no".

The president made a point of noting that Democrats too have contributed to a process in which politics has become a process of demonizing the other side.

Saying all must choose between being "politicians first or partners in progress," he said he is ready and eager to work with anyone who is ready to proceed in "partisan goodwill" but added that absent any progress in breaking partisan gridlock, he still has a responsibility to act in a way that benefits Americans. 
 

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh 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 Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan 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 Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
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.

VOA Blogs