Few signs of cooperation between White House, GOP

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President Barack Obama says that voters frustrated by the pace of economic recovery led to a Republican takeover of the House in midterm elections, adding, 'As president I take responsibility' for a failure to restore job growth more quickly. (Nov. 3)
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 17, 2010; 11:11 AM

In his news conference after the disastrous-for-Democrats midterm elections, President Obama repeatedly said he hoped his party could work with the victorious Republicans once the voting was done.

But so far, there is little sign of a detente in Washington. Over the weekend, after Obama announced he would seek to limit earmarks, which House GOP leaders have long bemoaned, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said they welcomed Obama's stance. But then they added that if Obama was really serious about the issue, he would promise to veto any bill with an earmark.

On Tuesday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the chamber's No. 2 Republican, declared he would not support ratifying the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) during Congress's lame-duck session, potentially dealing a fatal blow to one of Obama's top foreign policy priorities.

Later that night, the White House announced a that they would not have a meeting Thursday with leaders of the parties but have scheduled it instead for Nov. 30. Republican leaders emphasized they had never confirmed their attendance at the meeting, even as the White House had listed the session on its official schedule.

The delay came as the two parties remain divided over the biggest issue they must resolve in the next few weeks: how to extend tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 that are due to expire at the end of the year.

"Both Republicans and Democrats are grappling with the message sent by the voters, so it is awfully hard to figure out how to cut deals in the fog of the post-election morass," said John Feehery, a former top GOP aide on Capitol Hill.

Obama had repeatedly touted START as an issue in which both parties could work together, and the White House had been working with Kyl for months on the treaty.

Can Obama go it alone?

If the president can't reach any deals with the GOP over the next two years, he still has plenty of options, at least according to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank closely linked to the White House.

The center issued a 54-page report Tuesday detailing a variety of progressive policies the White House could implement without congressional approval. The ideas, while not as comprehensive as the health-care overhaul of earlier this year, ranged from the specific ("create a web portal to empower housing counselors, reduce burdens on lenders, and speed up home mortgage modifications") to the very broad ("reduce oil imports and make progress toward energy independence").

You can read the report here .


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