News / USA

Obama, Republicans Find Common Ground

The President strongly urges both parties in Congress to pass the compromise on tax cuts, unemployment insurance, and job creation, 11 Dec 2010
The President strongly urges both parties in Congress to pass the compromise on tax cuts, unemployment insurance, and job creation, 11 Dec 2010

Compromise and bipartisanship seem to be the favored words of the week in Washington, where U.S. politics seems to be veering toward the middle of the political spectrum, at least for the moment.  The shift comes just weeks after opposition Republicans strengthened their hand in mid-term congressional elections, presenting President Barack Obama with a major political challenge for the next two years.  

President Obama called Democratic losses in last month's elections a shellacking, and it appears that the president is heeding the advice from some within his own political party to move to the center and find common ground with Republicans.

That common ground took the form of a compromise over extending tax cuts for all Americans first approved under the administration of President George W. Bush.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a news conference following two votes on tax cuts on Capitol Hill in Washington, 04 Dec 2010
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a news conference following two votes on tax cuts on Capitol Hill in Washington, 04 Dec 2010

"And this proves that both parties can, in fact, work together to grow our economy and look out for the American people," said Obama.

As the compromise makes its way through Congress, the president is getting some rare kudos from Republicans, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

"We are telling the American people to keep money that is rightfully theirs so they can spend it and invest it as they please," he said. "This is an important shift and the White House should be applauded for agreeing to it."

But some of those not applauding are stalwart liberals in Obama's own Democratic Party who oppose extending tax cuts for the wealthy.

Among those trying to convince them that compromise is a good idea is former President Bill Clinton, who recently met with the president at the White House.

President Barack Obama looks on as former President Bill Clinton speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, 10 Dec 2010
President Barack Obama looks on as former President Bill Clinton speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, 10 Dec 2010

"I think the one thing that always happens when you have divided government is that people no longer see principled compromise as weakness," said Clinton. "This system was set up to promote principled compromise."

Some experts wonder if the president has done lasting damage to his relations with key liberal supporters who helped him get elected two years ago.

Faiz Shakir of the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington says many Democrats are convinced that Republicans are more interested in denying President Obama a second term than in helping him govern.

"The Republican Party sees that anything that President Obama does and gets done accrues to his benefit and that they, the Republican Party, have to stop that from happening," he said.

Shakir appeared on VOA's Encounter program with political expert John Fortier of the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

"There is not much of a middle left in American politics.  Both sides are pretty polarized after this election.  The president is not a wildly unpopular president, he is only mildly unpopular," he added.  "But it took a good beating, a shellacking as he called it, at the polls and is now looking ahead to his re-election."

Predictably, both parties took something different from the November-election results.  Republicans saw a repudiation of the Obama agenda and many newly-elected members want to focus on cutting the size of government during the next two years.

Democrats, including the president, heard another message entirely, says veteran political expert Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News.

"He [Obama] said that the American people now expect us to work together," he said. "We have got to get something done.  And if we do not get something done, we are all going to be held to account in 2012.  He is trying to appeal to the millions of independents who helped elect him two years ago and who abandoned him by the tens of millions in this last November election."

Some of those same political independents are frustrated with the status quo of American politics and they met in New York this week to launch a movement aimed at ending the hyper-partisanship in Washington.

The group is called "No Labels", as in no more political labels like liberal and conservative, and seeks to find common ground among Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is among those supporting the "No Labels" movement.

"We, right now, are not hanging together around our common principles and our common ideals and there is nothing more toxic to the soul of a nation when the lines of divide begin to trump the ties that bind," said Booker.

Many analysts question how long any mood of bipartisanship will last in Washington.

Political expert Norman Ornstein says the political divide remains deep, despite the recent tax compromise.

"Independents and Democrats, by almost two to one, say, 'Work together and compromise.'  Republicans by nearly two to one say, 'Stick to principle even if it means nothing gets done.'  Now how we work our way through that remains to be seen," he said.

That process begins in early January when the new Congress is seated and Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, while Democrats maintain a majority in the Senate.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs