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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More