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

GOP signals little willingness to meet Obama, Democrats halfway


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. Riaz

    GOP must work with the Dems on JOBS issue! This is a national priority... Hope they understand this!

    January 31, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Andrew Halloran

    Boehner, like the democrats, continues to miss the point. The American public don't want stubborn politicians. The American public wants an elected government who will WORK TOGETHER! Stop demonizing the other side to your constituents and get things done. Most of us, regardless of ideology, are really sick of it.

    January 31, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Showtime - Tampa

    Lets hope they continue to say no to these ridiculous programs pushed by BHO that are bad for America!

    January 31, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Clark

    Bipartisan legislation is only good when it either produces good legislation or makes pending bad legislation ideas less bad. Bipartisan doesn't automatically mean something is good.

    The far left is trying very hard to ram socialistic ideas and methods down the throat of America .... and want very much to have "bipartisan participation" smoke to hide behind. Because in this sense, the bipartisanship will help when it is time to vote .... for them to stay in office. They will be able to say ..... "well they did it too".

    I support the President ... but not his mission! Therefor, I want the GOP to obstruct every one of the the President's and the far lefts socialistic ideas.

    January 31, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. gary davis harbor oregon

    this jerk couldn't tell the truth if it bite him in the ass
    maybe BONNER AND pALIN AND BROWN can go live in a hippy cult some place off world 🙂

    January 31, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    No surprise that the republicans, who control a little over 40% of the seats in the house, will only support 100% of their big business, anti worker agenda. No compromise is acceptable for the party of "No!"

    January 31, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. Alan in Marietta, GA

    The first evidence that nothing will change in Washington. With the GOP, it's all or nothing even as the Dems demonstrate that they have listened to and incorporated GOP ideas in several bills. It is a choice to cooperate.

    January 31, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. Donkey Party

    The problem is that the Right thinks that only their ideas are good, when in fact it is their party to blame for nearly all the problems the country faces. President Obama, you have been trying to woo the Right since you took office, the time has long passed to cut them loose entirely, since they contribute absolutely nothing. Why would anyone even consider voting for a party that offers nothing, unless you are a foreign or domestic corporation, health insurance provider, oil company, or religious fanatic?

    January 31, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  9. 71 year old disabled vet

    This is exactly what is wrong with the republican party. he says that they were elected to stand by their princibles. what about standing for the people. to hell with the party.republicans can only talk about giving tax breaks for the richest people and companys. we have seen what that got us. the fact is they are against any thing that will help the poor and middle class. he has the finest health care that the tax payers can give him yet he does not want us to have it. he should have to go to the veterans hospital and try to get help like me and thousands of veterans have to. try and make an appointment it takes 30 to 90 days to even get to see a doctor . bohner and all his ilk need to go.

    January 31, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Boner is a lot like Howdy Doody, but his strings are pulled by big businesses and anti labor entities.

    January 31, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. Tom

    Gee, I can't imagine why? Maybe it is your total lack of wanting to work with the democrats Mr. Boehner. Your total lack of being open to democratic ideas and all. I mean, it's not as if you guys have ever made overtures that you'd like to work with the dems on, well, anything.

    January 31, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  12. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    The so called principles that republicans stand by have a lot of lying and misrepresentation of facts in them. Boner also lies about calling Obama ". . .most liberal senator . . ."which is a lame republican excuse for not doing the right things for Americans, who elected him to congress.

    January 31, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  13. Helene

    Is Boehner taking us for idiots ? Of course we know that the Party of NO has systematically refused for work with President Obama and used the filibuster outrageously. As long as they demonize President Obama and call him a socialist they will never be able to work with him.

    January 31, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    No one has ever accused the rich republicans in congress of being intelligent. They are in politics for their own personal gain. If the party of anti regulation had their way, there would not be rate restrictions on electric companies, cable companies, phone companies, safety in the skies, minimum wages, equality in the work place, family leave, and auto safety standards; just to name a few.

    January 31, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Showtime - Tampa

    Donkey party – who are you trying to fool...."when in fact it is their party to blame for nearly all the problems the country faces. "....please list the bills or ideas that were passed that has caused the problems....

    I submit to you that it is the entitlement mentality that is pushed and promoted by the dems that have led to less productive citizens. And as they continue to push their reward failure, punish success agenda and continue to pander to the unproductive at the expense of the productive just to garner votes!

    And you say "President Obama, you have been trying to woo the Right since you took office, the time has long passed to cut them loose entirely, since they contribute absolutely nothing. " NONSENSE – are you unable to think for yourself and only repeat what Axelrod and Gibbs tell you...the Democrats had the super majority and could have passed any legislation they wanted but BHO tried to push EXTREMELY leftist agenda and bills through that even all dems couldn't support....he is causing fractures in his own party and you guys are in complete and utter denial....Nancy P and Harry R are continue to push a ridiculous bill that the majority of americans have rejected!!! BHO is continuing to do the same.....denial, denial, denial...

    January 31, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    While Boner and his ilk take pride in 45 million Americans being denied affordable health care, the end result is that 45,000 will die each year. Quite a feather in the hat of the party of "No!"

    January 31, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Troy Peterson

    They should be trying to help the people... not blocking everything they see.

    January 31, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. 8 Years of the Bush Error = Recession and Record Unemployment for ? Years.

    The message the Reds sent to President Obama was less than encouraging when RNC chairman Steele said "bi-partisanship is over-rated" and Demint wanted health care to be his "Waterloo that would break" this President.

    Still President Obama offered tax cuts as one third of the stimulus bill to sho HE was willing to be bi-partisan.

    How, many Red votes did the stimulus get in the House, oh yeah, ZERO.

    It has not been President Obama that has NOT been willing to reach across the aisle.

    Look in the full length mirror at the tanning salon, YOU will see the orange culprit.

    January 31, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    With no help from the repubs; the stimulus is working, economic growth had its best quarter in 6 years, tax payers are being repaid the money lent to banks, goods orders are up, stock market up 2000 points in one year, and 2 million jobs were saved because the republicans were not allowed to let the American auto industry fail.

    The only thing going for them is they still have Cheney spreading the message, "I'm afraid, and you should be too."

    January 31, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Arine Ward


    That is pure and right Non Sense...YES the Democrats have had the majority...however Congressional Government doesn't work like that...

    The Bush Administration was not hearing or having any of that...and any bill that was attempted or spoken on...died...because Bush made it known that he would VETO...so don't say the Democrats could have pushed anything through!

    Instead of speaking to people who you feel are less educated and pacified by Democratic Policy...Try to TEACH people of the Process to get a Bill or any Legislation passed!

    January 31, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Ken

    If BHO has his way, our children will all be slaves to the Governement. Obamas socialist policies are worth rejecting.

    January 31, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

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

    You Reds are too funny.

    Your "principles" during the lead to the war was it ok to kill our soldiers for oil and revenge for Daddy, spend 1 trillion dollars on the wars "off the books" and add 5.1 trillion to the national debt.

    But NOW, you would have us believe your "principles" are to protect us from things YOU believe are bad for the country??

    We are not all as stupid as the rednecks and tea-baggers you serve.

    January 31, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Showtime - Tampa

    Arine Ward – talk about denial – it most certainly does work like that they did NOT need ONE republican vote as they had a filibuster proof congress....when you are not in that position you are right, but they were in that position.....the Republicans couldn't stop any bill....not one,....this is all on the dems and them not being able to come to agreement....if he wasn't so far left, then he could have accumulated the votes but he held to his FAR leftist agenda!

    January 31, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. Capsaicin

    GOP whining about bipartisanship is the most hypocritical thing I've ever heard. Nor should we fall for their continual 'talking over' the Democrat leadership with their obnoxious media and claiming that's the voice of the 'American people'. Americans want Healthcare reform, and they prefer an imperfect bill that can be fixed to nothing, which is the goal of Republicans and the insurance industry.

    January 31, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. Jan, Wilmington

    The Republicans thought they were going to "run game" on President
    Obama on national television last week, only to have their a$$es handed to them on a platter.

    Yes, let's have more televised Presidential meetings with Republicans.

    January 31, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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