Republicans Signal Little [No] Willingness to Meet Obama, Democrats Halfway – 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.
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.
On a jobs bill, Democrats are offering ordinarily Republican-supported provisions such as ta cuts and credits for small businesses to spur hiring. That’s not enough for McConnell, R-Kentucky.
Asked 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.”