In White House Meeting, Obama And GOP Discuss Partisan Divide
President Obama met with Republicans Tuesday.
The Washington Post: "Obama outlined issues that could bridge the divide, including job creation, health-care reform, energy and trade. But he extracted few concrete commitments from his GOP visitors." In the meantime, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll reports that 57 percent of Americans view the loss of Senate Democrats' filibuster-proof majority in the upper chamber as a good thing. "On the issue of health care reform, public attitudes about the stalled Democratic legislation remain virtually deadlocked. But nearly two-thirds of voters, or 63 percent, want Congress to keep trying to tackle the issue" (Murray and Kane, 2/10).
The Washington Post, in a second story analyzing the poll's findings: "Last summer, the president enjoyed advantages of more than 20 points over the GOP on the handling of health care. Those leads have all slipped, reflecting both the partisan polarization that has colored the political landscape for many months and the sharp erosion in support for Obama among independents" (Balz and Cohen, 2/10).
The Associated Press: Obama said Tuesday "he's willing to sign a bill even if it doesn't deliver everything he pursued through a year of grinding effort at risk of going down as a dismal failure." Obama spoke with reporters after the meeting with congressional leaders: "Let's put the best ideas on the table. ... My hope is that we can find enough overlap that we can say, this is the right way to move forward, even if I don't get every single thing that I want." Obama also signaled a willingness "to work on ways to limit medical malpractice lawsuits" as one way to rein in costs. Nonetheless, Republicans, and some Democrats, are skeptical that the president's proposed Feb. 25 bipartisan summit can achieve consensus (Alonso-Zaldivar and Babington, 2/10).
Politico with more on what Obama said: "'I'm willing to move off of some of the preferences of my party in order to meet them halfway, but there's got to be some give from their side as well. I also won't hesitate to condemn what I consider to be obstinacy,' he warned." Obama also said he was unwilling to completely start over on health care reform (Gerstein, 2/9).
The Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Obama reiterated his hopes for bipartisan compromise during a surprise appearance later in the White House briefing room, his first news conference since the summer. ... But the session and Mr. Obama's press conference also showed how the parties remain sharply divided. At one point, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) argued that Congress's rewriting of health care, energy and tax policy is creating uncertainty for business and stalling job creation, according to aides from both parties" (Meckler, 2/9).
ABC News: "Asked if the health care summit would include economists and public-interest groups, as Republicans have called for, the president said the White House has not 'refined' the agenda. He indicated that he wants some non-partisan voices, like the Congressional Budget Office" to ensure that the policy debates are rooted in fact. In summing up how the tenor of the discussion, Obama said the meeting went so well that "McConnell and Reid are out doing snow angels on the South Lawn." ABC noted "that may not be the case" (Tapper, Miller and Travers, 2/9).
Roll Call: "Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) indicated that his Conference is likely to participate (in the summit) if it receives assurances that Obama intends to negotiate in good faith. Senate Republicans remain concerned that the president has no intention of considering GOP health care proposals, but he instead might be inclined to use the nationally televised summit to burnish his bipartisan credentials and paint the GOP as obstructionists" (Drucker, 2/9).
Time: "Officially, Republicans are welcoming the opportunity, even as they stake out positions that effectively foreclose the possibility of meaningful compromise. 'Really, right now, it's up to the President and [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to start listening to the American people,' the number two House Republican, Eric Cantor, told Fox News Tuesday, when asked about the meeting. 'If they don't, there's not much to talk about'" (Scherer, 2/10).