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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid