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. Arine Ward

    I think you need to do the major research on those...those bills were brought before Congress and voted upon when? What did they do for ALL the American people? Just face it...the Republican party wishes death upon most, and will make money in the deaths of many with pre-existing conditions...So its alright...as long as its not you...What a sad party of congress....They showed themselves during the SOTU when they sit down and looked like they needed a bathroom!

    @ Hello
    Not very odd....just not mislead by the Supreme Power of take and destroy, while bankrupting America, and then passing it on, because the Commander in Chief is a man with some color...and attempt to make him look bad....when EVERYONE knows when, and where it started....So you my new friend are very very odd...But have a good day, maybe we can meet here daily 😉

    January 31, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  2. JMikey54

    The republicans do not want Obama to make the country better because that will make them look bad. So they would rather America fail than to work with the Democrats.

    January 31, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Obama accused Republicans of opposing legislation as a political strategy instead of seeking ways to work with his administration and Democrats."

    Saving the country from bankruptcy is about as fine a "political strategy" as I can imagine. Someone has to protect the country from the kids-in-a-candy-shop-with-mama's-money insane profligacy of the Democrats.

    If Obama truly wants to work with the GOP, the first thing he has to do is get back on his meds and get a grip on the reality that not only is the US government not infinitely wealthy, but that the money the country does have belongs to people of the US and not to the flaming-Left.

    January 31, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Showtime-not ready for prime time-pretty lame excuses for not supporting the president that the majority of Americans elected.

    January 31, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. WAW

    If you're not oil, drug, banking or a Dixiecrat, you are not represented by their stoolies in Congress. If you have voted Republican thinking you were supporting your Christian ideals, you have bowed before Mammon and worshiped him. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is not a Republican policy.

    January 31, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. Showtime - Tampa

    Wow "If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge" – where oh where did I say BHO put the earmarks in....I said he SIGNED YET ANOTHER bill LOADED with Earmarks after promising not to sign one...I will end the era of earmarks....right!

    January 31, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Arine Ward

    Now you have listed all these "complaints of lies"

    Do we start by labeling the lies uttered, spoke, and made profitable by the Republican Party?

    Starting with: Weapons of Mass Destruction
    Instilling Fear In America
    Covering up intelligence
    War Crimes

    These are just a few...all of which have made the Republicans very Rich...Lets trade Portfolio's see how much you made and pocketed!

    January 31, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    You mentioned the Republican lock out while trying to finalize a Health CARE REFORM bill. I'll grant you, Democrats chose to exclude Republicans, but, let's review:
    Republicans made it CLEAR that they intended to KILL THE BILL AS WRITTEN, on BOTH sides, House and Senate. Since the Bills had gotten to the point of reconciliation, one with the other, what could Republicans have ADDED to the debate? Their DECLARED INTENTIONS were to slow, stop then KILL a final bill.
    If the roles were reversed, wouldn't you be applauding Republicans for excluding Democrats?

    January 31, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Showtime - Tampa

    Arine Ward – you can deny all you like but you really do need to so your research......

    But after reading your next ignorant comment you have absolutely no credibility (besides the fact that you are denying the facts about the HC bill and the dems control of congress).....but this was the truly ignorant statement (how sad):

    "Just face it...the Republican party wishes death upon most, and will make money in the deaths of many with pre-existing conditions"

    As far as your "lies" list, those are your OPINION not facts.....I will address after I walk the dogs...


    January 31, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  10. Arine Ward


    My my my...look at your claws...hands in the cookie jar....and how much of it did Bush waste on Wars of nonsense!

    You speak of this money, as if you put the majority of it there....the way I see it if the unemployment rate is at 10% that means another 90% is working....so we all have contributed but I know you paid more...cause your the mighty Republican making over $250k that is being affected by the effects....Grow Up....no money has been wasted...your just upset, that it helped people and you would rather they die!

    January 31, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. 8 Years of “trickle down economics” has only left a wet spot on our shoes!

    And the vote against the commission to come up with spending cuts and tax that would have to be voted on by Congress was not passed due to a majority of reds NOT voting for this measure?

    But then President Obama did support this commission so guess that is why the reds are against.

    So, now, by executive order President Obama will install the commission but the recommendations do not have to be voted on.

    I guess reds are against President Obama that they are willing to go against the "principles" of cutting the size of government!

    January 31, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Hammerer

    Obama said that he was not an idealist. Then what is he?

    January 31, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    Americans need to remember that we had a chance to see these "Republicans Principles" at work after 8 years of Bush, during 6 of which he basically had a rubber stamp Congress.

    Obama has done the necessary (although often unpopular) things to pull us back from the brink. Given time, the public will realize going back to the policies of the past aren't the way forward for this great nation!

    January 31, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    BALONEY.... maybe if the GOPS didn't vote against everything Obama is trying to accomplish, they'd be included more. As it is, why bother with them at all since all they care about is their own stupid Party.

    January 31, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Arine Ward


    That statement is Proven...and has been Proven, and shown to be true...with a statistical focus on the last 8 years....while folks have passed on from the lack of health care...with this party of "No" and 50% of American's don't want the HC bill well guess what 50% DO!

    And if you haven't walked a corridor of a Cancer Treatment Center, or any Hospital or Nursing Home...then I suggest you do...and then your "NO" will be more meaningful....and yes they have profited on death...Look how much money has been made by Congressional Leaders just to say no by the insurance companies...

    So walk your dog...and come back...I will be here and waiting....For Showtime front and Center!

    January 31, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    President Obama is just finishing the first 1/4 of his FIRST term. He still has time to reject bills with earmarks...
    In fact, that came up at the House Republican retreat in Baltimore on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. The President said, again that he wants CONGRESS (Republicans AND Democrats) to grow a pair and refrain from using them, and that, where he can, he WILL NOT SIGN bills with earmarks – making special exception for things like troop funding.

    Please use the same razor edged rule to measure the promises and failures, the statements and lies of the last administration and see how they stack up with those of this President. I feel confident in saying that our last President makes this one look like a SAINT, and THIS President still has a lot of time left on the clock.

    January 31, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. 2by8

    This president went to the GOP retreat answered questions like a man explained his position but looking at the crowd all I could see was disdain and hate. I never use color or race as an excuse growing up (my parents said the more reason you have to work harder) but what I saw at the meeting and with all the things going on COLOR is the main issue.
    What Obama is going through reminds me of what I went through growing up and what my parents went through.
    Now matter how educated how much experiene or skills one posses people of color have to work twice as hard, answer all question. Every move is dissected and still no respect.

    January 31, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. catmomtx

    I noticed this morning on the morning talk shows that Republicans and their talking heads haven't changed at all.

    On Fox they are now going after Attorney General Holder suggesting he step down just because he decided to hold the terrorist trial in New York. It seems now that New Yorkers have succumbed to the fear and scare tactics Republicans like to use. Apparently New Yorkers are not convinced that they can safely hold ANOTHER terrorist trial in New York now that Barack Obama is President. Apparently they are afraid that they can not keep their citizens safe unlike they did when George Bush was President and Republicans saw no problems holding terrorists accountable in OUR Fedferal court system.

    I also noticed that many media today have decided to call the FAILED attempt to bomb a plane at Christmas the "Christmas bombing". I have heard this failed attempt referred to as the "Christmas bombing" several times today. Exactly when did we have a Christmas bombing? Last I heard it was an attempt. As usual, no one made a correction. They just let it go so gullible Americans will completely forget that it was a failed attempt and begin to talk about the "Christmas bombing" that occurred on President Obama's watch. You know the same way Rudy Giuliani and Dana Perino decided that 9/11 didn't happen on Bush's watch.

    January 31, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Ethan

    These Republicans in Congress... THERE THEY GO AGAIN.

    We MUST solve the problems of the Middle Class. If the Republicans refuse to pass centrist bills, then we need to elect more Democrats and Independents WHO WILL PASS CENTRIST BILLS.

    Gridlock. IS. UNACCEPTABLE.

    Pass the bills.

    Stop the filibuster.

    Elect more Democrats and Independents in November. NO MORE REPUBLICANS.

    January 31, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. linda

    Boehner: look at the facts for once instead of spewing false-hoods about President Obama.

    Just another Republican wingnut who needs to be kicked out of office by the voters of his state.

    Voters will remember in November the party of "NO" and hopefully
    will clean house

    January 31, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    I guess the victory in Massachusetts is still not being faced by Obama and Co. Hmmmm.....or is it? These democrats just can't seem to stop spinning......maybe Obama and Co. should take off their tutus cause they are not in fashion right now.

    January 31, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Bren

    Obama did not really want ideas/solutions from the Republicans--he just wanted political cover.

    The only thing that Obama wanted--was for the Republicans to support HIS ideas/solutions---nothing else.

    However, unfortunately for Obama, Pelosi, and Reid--the majority in the country agree with the Republicans---they also do not want any of the bills/policies that they are trying to shove down our throats.

    As many have said........The Democrats are going to get clobbered in the 2010 elections-–only 10 more months.

    January 31, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. Chris

    Every politician, Republican and Democrat, was elected to serve all of their constituents and do what is best for the country as a whole. The problem is Republicans are only for Republicans. The Right thinks their "principles" are perfect, so they never see a need question them or even consider the views of others. They feel they are entitled to power and control in this country. The GOP only concern themselves with what they think of as"True Americans" – fundamentalist christian neo-conservatives whites. You just don't count if you anything different.

    Both Obama and Democrats in Congress have made several attempts to work with the Republicans – and each time their offered hand only got them a slap in the face in reply. With Republicans its always "My way or no way."

    And as far as Obama being the "most liberal" – he's actually quite the Centrist. The probelm is Repbulicans have moved so far Right, they now think the Middle as the Left.

    January 31, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Showtime-not ready for primetime- getting a tad testy, aren't we? Are you sure you are not really Dr. Evil Murdoch, Mini Me Beck, or Fat Bastard Hannity? Calling people ignorant because they disagree with your right wingnut ideology is ignorant, in my opinion.

    January 31, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. 8 Years of King George II and now the Landed Gentry Scream “Let Them Eat Cake” to the Unemployed and Uninsured Serfs!

    ....please list the bills or ideas that were passed that has caused the problems....

    That would be the Phil Gramm bill that basically gutted Glass-Stegall and allowed dereg for banks.

    This went on to allow the banks to come up with "derivatives" by bundling prime and subprime mortgage loans and splitting them into "units" that were sold. When the subprimes started going bad NO ONE could determine how to isolate the bad loans because the Wall Street geniuses had not left a way for the bad loans to be islolated, so the entire mortgage market was shunned and almost collapsed due to a default rate of less than 1%.

    They then compounded the problems by selling credit swap "insurance" to back the mortgage units and if they failed the insurance would still pay. That is why AIG is in the tank, they sold "insurance" with no reserves to pay if they had to, so the taxpayer had to pay to full price to foreign countries that had bought these "exotic" financial instruments or forfeit the financially secure reputation of our debt.

    You simpleton reds, can continue to blame Frank and Dodd but the real problem was that the bad loans could not be isolated, not the volume of bad loans.

    That is ONE example, space prevents me from providing more examples.

    January 31, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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