President Obama and Republicans differ on political priorities for 2011
Sunday, January 2, 2011; 12:09 AM
President Obama and Republicans laid out their parties' resolutions for the New Year, pledging in weekly addresses to tackle the economy and cut spending in the new Congress, which convenes Wednesday.
Obama, who during the lame-duck session of Congress touted the passage of major bills along bipartisan lines as a road map for further compromise, said Saturday that his main goal is to "do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs and strengthening our middle class. That's my resolution for the coming year."
He also said he would need help making good on that resolution.
"In a few days, a new Congress will form, with one house controlled by Democrats, and one house controlled by Republicans - who now have a shared responsibility to move this country forward," he said. "And here's what I want you to know: I'm willing to work with anyone of either party who's got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver."
For their part, Republicans tapped senator-elect Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire to deliver their first weekly address of the year, signaling the new and emboldened ranks of the GOP headed to Washington this week.
Ayotte outlined the priorities of her party, saying that voters are relying on Republicans "to change business as usual in Washington - and we're well-positioned to do just that."
Stopping wasteful spending is the GOP's No. 1 priority, Ayotte said.
"The American people sent us to Congress with clear instructions: Make government smaller, not bigger. And stop spending money we don't have on programs that aren't working," she said. "It's now our responsibility to carry out the will of the people.
"To ensure generations to come have even more opportunities than we've had, Congress must get serious about meaningful debt reduction," she said. "This isn't a Republican problem or a Democrat problem - it's an American problem that will require tough decision-making from both parties."
One looming fight will be about how to keep the government running. In the closing days of the last session of Congress, Republicans and some Democrats defeated a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill with $8.3 billion in earmarks, which Republicans now say they are against. Congress passed a measure that will keep the government running until March.
Another flash point will be Obama's federal budget proposal, due in mid-February. He said that he expects to have a vigorous debate on spending and revising the tax code. Incoming speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio), who takes over a House flush with tea party-backed Republicans, said that his aim is to cut $100 billion out of the federal budget.
Obama returns to Washington from Hawaii on Tuesday, the day before Congress reconvenes.
Also Saturday, the president issued a statement condemning New Year's Eve terrorist bombing attacks on a church in Egypt and near army barracks in Nigeria.
The Egypt attackers "were clearly targeting Christian worshipers and have no respect for human life and dignity," Obama said. At least 21 people - Christians and Muslims - were killed, according to reports.
The Nigerian attack killed more than 20 people. "Killing innocent civilians who were simply gathering - like so many around the world - to celebrate the beginning of the new year further demonstrates the bankrupt vision of those who carry out the attacks," Obama said.