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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid