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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Mr. Obama’s Offer to Republicans......


President Obama refused on Wednesday to submit to the Republican narrative that his presidency effectively ended with the midterm elections.
He said he will not agree to the repeal of health care reform, as many Republicans demand. He will not sit around doing nothing while they look for the courage to enact immigration reform. He will continue to demand a higher minimum wage and new spending on public works, and expansion of early education programs.
“Obviously, Republicans had a good night,” he said, a quiet admission that his party got drubbed, losing control of the Senate, as well as at least 14 House seats. But he said he hopes to meet regularly with Republican leaders and work on areas where there is mutual agreement.
The tone of the questions at his post-mortem news conference suggested that that wasn’t enough. There were demands that he take personal responsibility for the Democratic losses, or exhibit public contrition, or describe exactly where he plans to give in to Republican demands. He was right to ignore all of that, and instead he got directly to heart of Tuesday’s message from the public:
“What’s most important to the American people right now, the resounding message not just of this election, but basically the last several is: Get stuff done,” he said. “Don’t worry about the next election. Don’t worry about party affiliation. Do worry about our concerns.”
Republicans ran on no message except that Mr. Obama was always wrong, and voters on Tuesday said they were angry with the country’s direction and political gridlock, taking their fury out on the president’s party because he is in charge. (As he noted, two-thirds of eligible voters didn’t even show up.)
Under those circumstances, Mr. Obama was justified in sticking with what he called “the principles that we’re fighting for,” which got him elected twice: creating job opportunity by expanding the economy, the top issue on the minds of most voters. There is no need to backtrack on goals like a higher minimum wage or expanded health insurance when most voters say they want those things.
But Mr. Obama said there were several areas where he thinks agreement could be reached with Republicans, and several of them were the same ones outlined by Senator Mitch McConnell, who will be the new majority leader, in his post-election news conference. One is a trade agreement with Pacific nations, which he said would help open those markets to American goods. (Though it needs to include strong labor and environmental regulations.) Another is corporate tax reform that would eliminate many deductions and breaks, though unfortunately Republicans continue to insist on applying any revenues generated toward reducing corporate tax rates rather than using that revenue on federal projects that would create new jobs.
Mr. Obama also said he would request $6.2 billion to fight the spread of Ebola and would ask Congress to formally authorize the military action against the Islamic State. Mr. McConnell seems open to cooperation on these issues, saying he would work with the White House on trade and corporate taxes and wants to hear its requests on Ebola and the Islamic State.
Immigration is a different story. Mr. Obama said that, if Republicans continued to block a reform bill, he would take executive action to improve the immigration system before the end of the year. Mr. McConnell warned that any such action would “poison the well” for legislation.
Mr. McConnell also promised continued divisiveness over regulations on business and the energy industry through demands made in spending bills, and he vowed to take action against big pieces of the health care reform law, including the individual mandate.
Mr. Obama said he would never agree to end the mandate, which would gut the health law, and there is no reason he should. Voters said they wanted the two parties to stop bickering and work harder, not erase the progress made in the last six years.