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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid