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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid