January 31st, 2010
04:41 PM ET
4 years ago

GOP signals little willingness to meet Obama, Democrats halfway

ALT TEXT

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell showed little willingness Sunday on CNN's State of the Union to seek common ground with Democrats on top legislative priorities. (Photo Credit: CNN)

(CNN) - Despite White House overtures for congressional Republicans to work with Democrats, GOP leaders indicated Sunday they were unwilling to accept much of what President Barack Obama and the Democrats are proposing.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell showed little willingness on CNN's "State of the Union" program to seek common ground with Democrats on top legislative priorities such as health care, a jobs bill or creating a
bipartisan statutory commission to come up with plans to reduce the federal deficit.

His counterpart in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, was more blunt.

"There aren't that many places where we can come together," Boehner, R-Ohio, told the NBC program "Meet the Press."

Republicans were elected to stand by their principles, and those principles are different than the "leftist proposals" offered by Obama and congressional Democrats, Boehner said.

Obama used his State of the Union address last Wednesday, as well as an unprecedented public meeting with House Republicans on Friday, to criticize the GOP for political intransigence while offering concessions on some issues in a bid to gain bipartisan support.

For example, Obama proposed tax breaks for small businesses championed by Republicans as part of a jobs bill he wants passed as quickly as possible. In the State of the Union, Obama mentioned nuclear power and some offshore oil and gas drilling - both longtime Republican favorites - as possible components of his energy policy. Earlier last week, Obama endorsed a Senate bill to create a deficit reduction commission proposed by members of both parties.

In response, Republicans riding high after their Jan. 19 special election victory in Massachusetts shifted the fulcrum of power in the Senate have shown they believe that this election year, the American public backs GOP opposition to the policies of Obama and Democrats.

Passage of a Democratic health care bill appeared certain until Republican Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate race to fill Democrat Ted Kennedy's seat cost Democrats their 60-vote super-majority in the 100-member chamber necessary to overcome a GOP filibuster. Now, with the bill's chances severely curtailed, Republicans are moving in for the kill.

McConnell told "State of the Union" that Democrats should put their comprehensive approach "on the shelf" and start over by working with Republicans on more limited legislation. Another Republican senator, John Thune of South Dakota, took the debate a step further by telling the CBS program "Face the Nation" that the "the best thing we can do about jobs is put that massive health care expansion on the shelf."

On a jobs bill, Democrats are offering ordinarily Republican-supported provisions such as tax cuts and credits for small businesses to spur hiring. That's not enough for McConnell, R-Kentucky.

"Well, we're willing to take a look at it," he told CNN. Asked about about creating a deficit reduction panel, presumably a red-meat Republican issue, McConnell showed the politics of the moment at play.

Obama said Saturday that a Senate bill proposed by Democrats and Republicans to create such a commission was defeated by the Senate last week because seven of the GOP co-sponsors changed their mind and voted against it.

"Now, it's one thing to have an honest difference of opinion about something. I will always respect those who take a principled stand for what they believe, even if I disagree with them," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "But what I won't accept is changing positions because it's good politics. What I won't accept is opposition for opposition's sake. We cannot have a serious discussion and take meaningful action to create jobs and control our deficits if politicians just do what's necessary to win the next election instead of what's best for the next generation."

McConnell said Sunday he favored forming a commission, but wanted to change the mandate to instead look at how to cut spending. When pressed, McConnell noted he changed his stance because of the likelihood that a deficit-reduction plan would include tax increases.

"This commission would have made it possible to raise taxes," McConnell said, later adding: "I think the problem is we spend too much. So I like the commission idea, just as I said a few months ago. I think a better way to do it is to target spending - a spending reduction commission."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs lamented what he characterized as Republican intransigence since Obama came to power with majorities in both chambers of Congress.

"Understanding that we may not agree on 100 percent, but lord knows that was never the test in this town until very recently, that everybody had to agree on every single word to get bipartisan support," Gibbs said on CNN's "State of the Union."

David Axelrod, Obama's senior adviser, said Republicans have so far been uninvolved in efforts to move forward.

"All I know is that in the first year of our administration, they largely sat on the sideline on a lot of issues," Axelrod said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

To Boehner, Obama was "the most liberal" member of the Senate before becoming president, and his policies now reflected that liberalism.

"Leadership is about standing on your principles and opposing those policies that we believe are bad for the country," Boehner said.

Updated: 4:41 p.m.


Filed under: Congress • Democrats • GOP • President Obama
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Arine Ward

    @ShowTime...
    You are absolutely right....However, your so excited your missing your original point. They have been in power under President Obama for 1yr...He isn't a push down your throat President...he tried to work with everyone accordingly for the betterment of these United States...

    Unlike pass Presidents, who told and instilled fear in America about WMD that started and infused 2 wars, and enriched the economy with so much fear that Wall Street crashed, we slipped into Recession, and nearly dismantled these United States...but of course that is all President Obama's fault and he was supposed to turn it all around in a year...and then give you something else to come unraveled about...to jump up and down on the blogs, spewing he Lied...when we clearly see...he hasn't lied...and we are far from being in denial...You wake up...and stop believing what you want, and trying to push those erroneous facts on others! Shameful!

    January 31, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. hello!

    Like Beck said....for a year all senate republicans were "in a coffee can under his grandmother's sink" :) ....the dems could have done anything they wanted to for a full year.

    Don't blame the republicans because the liberals couldn't get the dems to fall in line.

    Palin 2012

    January 31, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    58 democrats, one independent and Lieberman is not a filibuster proof majority. (Lieberman is going to become a republican in the near future.) The repubs even filibustered the defense budget which delayed our troops from getting equipment. Something to be proud of if you are a right wingnut.

    January 31, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  4. Arine Ward

    We're coming upon a year for this Healthcare Schematics... Where is the GOP's bill? What have they produced...if their constituents doesn't want the bill...What bill are they proposing...not ANYTHING! they want it to remain the same, so people can die, with no Hope, waver in a river of nothing, because they are the supreme power...NOT...Its dissolved...Democrats, will come out fighting again, and show you once more that you still haven't proven yourselves to sit back in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    January 31, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    You may be "showtime" but you are not ready for prime time.

    January 31, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. Obama has been "the most liberal" member

    "Obama has been "the most liberal" member.."

    Once again, someone needs to point out to "the most stupid" member of Congress that President Obama was legally elected by a 7% margin of 53 -46.

    The American voters decide who YOU will work with Boehner, you do NOT get to pick.

    January 31, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    "There aren't that many places where we can come together," House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said on the NBC program "Meet the Press."
    Republicans were elected to stand by their principles, and those principles are different than the "leftist proposals" offered by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, Boehner said.
    "Leadership is about standing on your principles and opposing those policies that we believe are bad for the country," Boehner said

    This is still America where the Majority RULES while protecting Minority RIGHTS.
    Not among the Minority rights is the right to act / "rule" as the majority.
    Republicans (and Democrats) were elected by constituents to REPRESENT THEM, not to represent Republican (or Democratic) "principals."
    LEADERSHIP STARTS with the President. If you were a part of the Military, Mr Boehner, you would could be accused of TREASON for failing to follow the President's marching orders. Your defiance and that of your party is NOT leadership.

    AFTER your most recent election, Mr. Boehner, this President was elected by a significant Majority (based on the "Mandate" claimed for the second GWB term).
    PRESIDENT OBAMA'S AGENDA is the most current will of the people It is HIS AGENDA that you should be working on...
    I understand that you represent your district first, but is that representation supposed to be AGAINST the will of the Nation?

    Until the idea of "Republicans MUST get every part of every aspect of every issue or America gets NOTHING" is set aside, America loses – AT THE HANDS OF REPUBLICANS.
    Republicans are no more perfect than Democrats, and your agenda less serves the will AND the good of "We The People."

    January 31, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. Showtime - Tampa

    Capsaicin – you state "Americans want Healthcare reform, and they prefer an imperfect bill that can be fixed to nothing," Once again, not true....Gibbs is lying to you....the polls show that over 50% of Americans want the HC BIll scrapped....they do not want this Monstrosity that is the fact....buit never let the facts get in the way of your argument.

    January 31, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Rightsaid

    The GOP doesn't really want to work with the other side. They just want their way. Just like there most recent screw up leader, "if you ain't with us, yer 'gainst us." It is always the same mentality.

    January 31, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. Arine Ward

    @hello

    Please come up with your own commentary, and stop piggy backing off the coattails of others. This is Press Time...Step in Line or hush all the noise...this isn't the time for children to be heard, but seen!

    January 31, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  11. Showtime - Tampa

    The repubs even filibustered the defense budget which delayed our troops from getting – because it was loaded with EARMARKS....that BHO promised he wouldn't sign a bill with earmarks....another lie – check!

    January 31, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  12. Obama = corruption (with a nice voice)

    Obama and Pelosi have refused to work with republicans. The hypocrisy is amazing.

    The bills that Pelosi has pushed are too expensive and don't make sense. Sure they sound good (no pollution, free healthcare, free money for the poor,....), but the reality is that history has shown that they DON'T WORK.

    The republicans have presented other solutions based in reality and the free market system. But, because Pelosi and Obama have had COMPLETE CONTROL of the Congress, they have ignored republican voices. Now, at least they have to listen.

    Hopefully in November, the crazy liberals will lose their super majoritie so that sanity can be restored to legislation.

    Note: Real jobs are created by business, not government. Government jobs SPEND the money created by private sector jobs.

    January 31, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  13. hello!

    Arine Ward:
    Do you mean the kind of "working together" like the "closed to any and all republicans" type meetings that went on all year????? You mean the kind of "working together" the pres meant when he told "those who created this mess – we don't want you to do any of the talking?" Dems couldn't even work with dems.....there has been NO attempt to work together with republicans.

    BTW – Congress holds the purse strings....Dems have been in control since midterms 2006. Gee, when did the economy start falling apart? Hmmmmmm.....Barney Frank should have seen the problems w/fannie & freddy long ago....

    January 31, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. Mitch

    Ahem...to the GOP top dogs. I can't call you leaders because you don't lead. You whine, you cry and you pout.

    Leaders work to find a middle ground. If the dems don't do something you like, offer a middle ground. If the world followed your lead these following things would never happen...

    contract negotiations
    trade deals
    business deals
    friendships
    families
    America

    If the Democrats offer you 10 things you hate, offer 10 things you can live with. Because my GOP top dogs...Americans want action. We get it...you're very right wing. But please please please remember that 'Right Wing' doesn't mean you're always right. There are times you are wrong. The last presidential election should explain that to you in terms you still don't understand.

    Take the high ground once...the world will consider calling you a leader.

    January 31, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. hello!

    Arine Ward...you are very odd....:)

    January 31, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    I hope the right wingnuts give up the Fox anti government spying network talking points and learn to read. Fact checking shoots down most of their programming with Beck, Hannity and O'Reilly. Did you right wingnuts notice that Fox cut away from Obama debunking the lies of the congressional repubs, and went into their Anti Obama back up programming?

    January 31, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. Showtime - Tampa

    If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Resorting to personal attacks is fine.....it is usually what you libs do when you can't support your arguments, which you clearly can't...

    40 republicans senators couldn't stop ONE BILL...not one...so keep your blinders on blame Republicans, blame bush, pull the race card.....they are tired old arguments that have run there course....the dems have controlled both houses of congress for over 3 years and a supermajority AND the whitehouse and couldn't pull there own party together....how sad!

    January 31, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Showtime-not ready for primetime, should realize that earmarks are passed in the house and senate, and not initiated by the president. Basically, if you are as smart as you profess to be, you would know where bills come from.

    January 31, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. In the Middle

    I guess moving towards the far right makes the middle look pretty liberal...

    January 31, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. tisgoogle

    Boehner your tanning has burned your brain!

    January 31, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Arine Ward

    Again "Sound Bites" Political Headlines!
    Just because the President calls a meeting, doesn't mean its a behind the scenes closed door, uninvited meeting of destruction.

    I mean the RNC is meeting in Hawaii...were you invited to that???

    Do you have your ticket to be there? Do you fit the Purity Test?

    All Republican mayhem to spark confusion...simply sad, that the majority of Republicans, don't fit the Conservative bill...yet boes Republican because they're to afraid to step out on their own...using what Mom, Dad, Nana, and Paw Paw did as far as voting...Wake Up!

    January 31, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  22. Showtime - Tampa

    TO Arine ward:

    YOu say "Where is the GOP's bill? What have they produced...if their constituents doesn't want the bill...What bill are they proposing...not ANYTHING!" ONce again, never let the facts get in the way of your argument....there were several bills proposed (you can google them if you care to do your research instead of repeating the libs talking points that are false) and some were scored by the CBO!

    January 31, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. Showtime - Tampa

    Talk about lies, here are just a few of BHO's:

    BHO Promise – no lobbyist in my administration put nominated.
    Reality – Nominated and approved numerous in his administration

    BHO Promise – my administration will be made up of Washington Outsiders.
    Reality – it is primarily made up of Washington insiders (primarily recycled from the Clinton Administration).

    BHO Promise – Open and Honest deliberation of all new bills
    Reality – many of the bills, such as the stimulus bill, have been debated behind closed doors (not to mention that they were pushed thru so quickly that congress didn't even have time to read several of the bills) – just like the energy bill, HC Bill, stimulus bill, etc – That is honesty for you.

    BHO Promise – I will not sign a bill with Earmarks
    Reality – BHO signed the stimulus bill with 9000 earmarks and many other just like the Funding bill and HC Bill will be..

    BHO Promise – All bills will be posted online for public review.
    Reality – Bills that he signed were not posted online.

    BHO Promise – if you make less than $250K, your taxes will not go up one penny.
    Reality – He is pushing for the biggest tax increase in history with Cap and Trade. He is also pushing to tax Healthcare benefits (oops – another tax increase). He has already stated that he is going to let the 01-03 tax cuts expire (another tax increase). Not to mention the Increase in Federal Tobacco tax on April 1st....and now he is saying that he isn't ruling out a middle class tax increase (NOT ONE PENNY).

    BHO Promise – If you pass this stimulus and omnibus bill, unemployment rate will not exceed 8%.
    Reality – Unemployment is over 10%.

    January 31, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Really...

    Work on jobs and the economy since your party is responsible for the squandering a budget surplus, the poor economy and job loss. All of a sudden you want to pretend that you have not had eight years to actually do something to help middle class people instead of the wealthy. Stop being the party of NO and actually do something positive. And by the way Shut Up until you actually have something positive to say and do.

    January 31, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    President Obama went to the House Republican retreat in Baltimore on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 and asked that Republicans (AND DEMOCRATS) take a more civil, conciliatory tone.
    THEN, while in the lions den, he dared to put down his armor (and his teleprompter) and take questions from the audience that invited him.
    The president got an IMMEDIATE RESPONSE on the civility, conciliation front – "NO FREAKIN' WAY!"
    "Questions" were prefaced with long, often rambling ideological diatribes, filled with talking points and lacking anything resembling respect. The actual questions were, with one exception, couched in the most partisan fashion possible.

    I'll admit, the President DID bristle, but answered each question (except two), at length and with dignity and respect not shown to him.
    One question he did outright dodge, and the other, by failing to listen to that question, he failed to give the short, direct answer.

    America is better than our politicians and our politics of today. Congress has such low ratings because you earn them and Republicans are less respected than Democrats because you earned that too.

    A MAJORITY, in the most recent election chose this President and THIS AGENDA for America, it is not "leadership" to reject the will of the people, unless the will of the people is unconstitutional... And in this case, our will IS Constitutional!

    January 31, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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