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Analysis: Both sides see mandate, hard road ahead

Posted: November 7, 2012 - 4:16pm  |  Updated: November 8, 2012 - 9:54am

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s re-election, coupled with Republicans’ continued hold on the House, gives both parties a chance to rethink, and perhaps undo, the bitter partisanship that has gripped Washington for four years and frustrated Americans who see big problems going unsolved.

It won’t be easy. Both sides claim, with some justification, a mandate from the voters.

“We’ll have as much of a mandate as he will,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said shortly before the election, correctly anticipating the results.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was frostier in his post-election remarks. “The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term,” McConnell said.

“Now it’s time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House,” he said, “and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office.”

After three straight swing elections, Americans decided to keep Obama in the White House, leave Republicans in control of the House and let Democrats stay atop the Senate, with Republicans still able to block measures with filibusters.

There’s an irony, or self-flagellation, there. Americans express exasperation at the partisan sniping and gridlock that pushed the nation to the brink of defaulting on its loans last year, and which might trigger new crises soon. The narrowness of Obama’s win accurately reflects the nation’s nearly 50-50 partisan divide. It’s a split that will make progress on any major issues difficult for at least another two years, and probably longer.

Every newly elected president claims a mandate, and Obama can point to the roughly $1 billion that Mitt Romney and his GOP allies spent trying to oust him. Yet, for all its tactical brilliance, Obama’s campaign was built on relatively modest ideas. It focused on helping the middle class, which is a coalition of identity, not ideology.

It may have been a status quo election. But if the White House and congressional Republicans simply stand their ground on taxes and other issues, they run risks — not just for the nation’s well-being, but also for the legacies of a barrier-breaking president and a Republican Party that has tapped a deep vein of conservative, almost libertarian emotion.

In many ways, of course, Obama’s place in history is assured. The first black to be elected president has now joined eight other men who, since 1900, won the office more than once. His biggest first-term achievement — the “Obamacare” health delivery overhaul — is safe from repeal by a President Mitt Romney.

Obama’s other top goals, however, were largely thwarted by a united Republican Party that fought him at almost every turn. Republicans provided not a single House or Senate vote for the health care law. They beat back his efforts to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest households.

Obama offered an olive branch in his victory speech early Wednesday. “In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together,” he said.

McConnell said in 2010 that his top goal was to deny Obama a second term. On Tuesday, he lost, even though the nation’s high unemployment seemed to make Obama ripe for defeat. Some, perhaps much, of Romney’s loss will be traced to Americans’ discontent with an opposition party that refused to compromise on big issues even when it’s obvious that neither party can get everything it wants.

Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP officials now must decide where to bend and where to keep standing firm. They’ll have to tip their hand soon. A package of huge tax hikes and spending cuts — known as the “fiscal cliff,” and which both parties deeply dislike — is scheduled to take effect in the new year.

So far, Republicans have adamantly refused to raise taxes, even on the richest Americans, as part of a deficit-reduction package. Obama and other Democrats say such tax hikes must be part of the deal. They will point to Tuesday’s election as validation. Boehner will point to his sustained majority.

Democrats think Obama learned some hard lessons in his first four years, including a realization that he must get deeply involved in the sometimes unpleasant business of crafting and negotiating legislation.

“The American people have made it pretty clear that they are sick of gridlock and fighting,” said Jim Manley, a former Democratic Senate aide. Boehner and McConnell, he said, “have figured out that the tea party has done enormous damage to their brand, to say nothing about the economy, and that something has to change.”

At the same time, Manley said “the president is going to have to play a more forceful role in the legislative process.”

Obama signaled some of his second-term goals in a recent Des Moines Register interview. The fiscal cliff’s economic threat is so severe, he said, that a congressional compromise is likely.

“It will probably be messy,” the president said. “But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans.” It calls for $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue.

“The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform,” he said. Perhaps. Or it could prove as difficult as President George W. Bush’s bid to partly privatize Social Security right after his re-election.

In recent years, the very idea of bipartisan compromise has come under growing attack, as Americans got fed up with soaring deficits, longstanding threats to Medicare and other problems left unresolved by Congress’ old practices. The anger gave birth to the tea party, which boosted candidates who vow not to compromise if they reach Washington.

Passion and ideology drive the tea party. Congressional leaders, historically, are realists. They keep their committee chairmanships and party leadership posts by constantly monitoring the moods and needs of their rank-and-file colleagues.

Some Washington veterans say Boehner is posturing when he claims that his party won as big a mandate as Obama did. When Republicans see that the no-new-taxes argument lost Tuesday, Boehner “is certain to come to the table to begin to deal,” said Matt Bennett of the Democratic-leaning think tank Third Way.

“Boehner and McConnell surely know that they cannot continue to be pure obstructionists and that the economic consequences of going over the fiscal cliff would be extreme,” Bennett said. But it’s not clear they can control their caucuses, he said.

Indeed, the GOP is surely about to engage in some intense self-examination and infighting.

John Feehery, a former top House Republican aide, said Obama’s re-election may give the White House less clout than Democratic insiders think.

“Republicans will feel they have just as big a mandate as the president,” Feehery said. It’s possible that Boehner and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada “will do the deals and put Obama on mute,” he said.

Reid, at least for now, sounds upbeat and bipartisan.

“Democrats and Republicans must come together, and show that we are up to the challenge” of tackling big problems, Reid said after the election was called. “This is no time for excuses.”

 

Charles Babington covers Congress and national politics for The Associated Press.

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spwright
1376
Points
spwright 11/08/12 - 01:14 pm
2
1
Worst Congress in Our Nation's History

Thur 11/8/12
This is a undisputed Fact :
This is the Worst Congress in Our Nation's History !
A Grid-Locked Do NOTHING Congress that can't even agree if it is Day or Night.

Both Republican & Democrats are responsible for this Mess !

The Mandatory Budget Cuts that are the Law of the Land
will begin January 1st,2013 $Billions$ of Dollars
That will have a Direct Effect on All of Us nation wide.
Everyone will be effected, there are No Sacred Cows.

Get Your S_ _ _ Together ! Do Something already !

SPW "Airborne"

Norseman
3613
Points
Norseman 11/08/12 - 05:58 pm
3
1
Congress must set aside their

Congress must set aside their politcal bickering and dysfunctional gridlock.
THEY are the cause of America's problem. They REFUSE to do what we sent them there to do which is work together as AMERICANS and solve problems.

The Congress and Senate had better start cooperating in a bi partisan way or therwise we will see many incumbents not getting reelected in the next cycle.
Americans are fed up with DO NOTHING politicans.
Toss the lobbyists and special interests out of the equation and get your butts to work.

Something to be proud of.......the WORST congress in the history of America.

Raoulduke
3055
Points
Raoulduke 11/09/12 - 06:38 am
2
0
congress

When President Obama was elected the 1st time.The very same day the Republican leaders stated they would not vote for any measures sent to them by the Obama Administration.Now that is NOT a lie,but the printed,and video truth.So! when you have a stubborn OBSTRUCTIONIST plan from day one.You can blame the REPUBLICANS for not playing politics.My way or the highway is NOT any form of politics.Obama has done something the last 4 presidents could not.He got healthcare reformed passed against all odds.Yes! The previous 4 presidents tried to pass a healthcare reform plan.So! Healthcare reform was not something that sprung up over night during Obama's first term.It just got approved.Have a very happy next 4 years one,and all.

freedomlibertytruth
1398
Points
freedomlibertytruth 11/09/12 - 04:53 pm
1
2
“The democracy will cease to

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Thomas Jefferson quotes.

left wing liberal democrats, Your day has arrived, mob rule wins in the USA

gfds98765
1013
Points
gfds98765 11/09/12 - 05:01 pm
1
2
‘O’ NO left wing! You created

‘O’ NO left wing! You created the obstacles, You grew the deficit, You ran up the debt, You blew up the welfare entitlement rolls, it’s YOUR party that took over! You made the mess in the last 4 years. You Clean up your own comrades mess.

lkpomn912
931
Points
lkpomn912 11/09/12 - 05:13 pm
2
2
The Left-wingers always win,

The Left-wingers always win, as they simply wear indies & conservatives down, with brutal Saul Alinsky radical 60’s tactics.

Now you can raise the deficit even higher
Now you can double the debt once again
You can send more troops overseas to die
You can raise the prices of everything so that we are all equally poor like barrio ghetto chumps
get the union thugs and acorn to help you.
More people on welfare, food stamps, free rent, entitlements.

Check back in 4 years and know this will be true fact.

Allen
636
Points
Allen 11/10/12 - 06:58 pm
1
1
What's up with

What's up with freedomlibertytruth, gfds98765, lkpomn912. It seems to be the same person posing as three people. The same name-calling/slogans/right wing rants x 3.

Allen
636
Points
Allen 11/10/12 - 07:03 pm
1
1
Where's WOTW

It's been mighty quiet on the Clarion posts since the election Tuesday. No daily anti-Obama rants.

Despite Republican-sponsored voter surpression laws and gerrymandering, the President was re-elected. Let's move forward.

BigRedDog
659
Points
BigRedDog 11/13/12 - 10:21 am
1
0
I got your Forward

While we sit idly waiting for Washington to come up with the next idea to solve the fiscal delima, why don't we toss a few real thoughts into the ring. I hear saber rattlers talking of fining the good people who stood the test, carried the load, and are paying for All this Free stuff. Our very enlightened leaders are talking raising the cost of things like medicare medicaide on the older voters who have thier financial stuff together. No thought of rewarding them for taking less or paying more of their own way, just pinching them for more free stuff for others. You see there are folks out there that could make it without thier social security check each month, but what does it benifet them too not file for payments? Has any of our enlightened leaders ever learned the value of a carrot when you can't push the horse any further?
No thoughts like allowing taxfree withdrawls from 401K's to pay for childs or grandchildrens college books and tuition. You want to see some student loans paid off, put that one on the books. On SSI, if you forgoe say $1500 a month, that money would just about cover the taxes on a $6000 withdrawl from a 401K and not cost US a dime. You could then take the 6K and do whatever you wanted with it. Just putting it in the bank would save you the 1500 and allow unfethered access to your hard earned funds. Come on and help me on this one as a lot of things can work and we will need them all.

BigRedDog
659
Points
BigRedDog 11/13/12 - 11:38 am
1
0
Billions pour into the Economy

Yes I'm talking 100's of billions moving into the economy. If 10,000 taxpayers said okay keep my $1500 for a few years and allow me to put 6K on my books. That is $15M in savings to SSI. and $60M into the active economy per month! Do that for a year and the math is $180M in SSI's pocket and $720M in the economy. There are over10,000 people a month filing for first time SSI. and no option like this on the table. If a tax payer was to say I'll forgoe SSI income from age 62 until age 66 on a low average of $1500 a month that would be $72,000 savings to SSI and allow a coresponding $288,000 transfere of the SSI holders own funds into thier hands.
I would bet you even money those folks wouldn't let that money lay idle and this is one way we could wrest our wealth from the central banking control of the 401k program! I'll put it down there, I'll be the first to hop on this and say I would put my money down on that line! I would bet 10's of thousands would join me if given the chance. Do the math, but doing the math is not the problem, it will take a shift in the basic paradime (no spell check) of thinking to get US out of this. I think allowing the people that made the money to begin with, use it to make more money is the ticket. But then I would be very liberal with my own money by saying that! I'm just dammed tired of somebody else being liberal with my money and using it's squander to get re-elected. And you can take that forward!

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 11/13/12 - 02:47 pm
1
0
What Free Stuff ? 11/13/12

Tue 11/13/12
Do You receive a Ak PFD each & every year ?
Then quit your whining about other Americans recieveing their
EARNED RETIREMENT INCOME.

Social Security & MediCare are NOT Free. That is NOT a entitlement, That is EARNED RETIREMENT INCOME

I worked for over 50 long bust ass years & Social Security & Medicare was deducted from each & every Pay Check.
A lifetime of PayRoll Deductions with out recieveing One damn Dime in Benefits for 50 years.

What are You Talking About ? Free Stuff ?

There are Millions of Baby Boomers that feel the same way.

SPW "Airborne"

BigRedDog
659
Points
BigRedDog 11/13/12 - 04:58 pm
0
0
drawing fire

Well SPW; That is a real burr to get off from under that saddle. And you see I'm throwing out an olive branch and you don't know how to act. I'm simply saying if 10,000 first time SSI retirees said keep my SSI check for the next four years what would it yield? With an average check of say $1500 a month that would be $72,000 bucks still in SSI's coffers after 4 years for every participant. For doing that each retiree could draw from thier 401K pension funds 4 times the amount of that SSI check each month. The $1500 would be like paying the taxes due on such a withdraw or 25% but the retiree would keep the entire $6K. They could role in right back into the same fund under another account or take it in cash!
After just 4 years with just10,000 retirees doing this the savings to SSI would total $720,000,000 and $2.88 Billion with a "B" would be put into the economy through investments or spending by these 10,000 retirees alone.There are way over 10,000 folks applying every month for SSI and how many would love to take this option?That money would still be in the hands of the retirees taking part, but the access would probably improve depending on investment stratagies.That versus forcing retirees who have thier financial ducks in a row to pay more for Medicare and Medicade too which they have allready paid the going rate. I hope this makes my point a little clearer. The real beauty of this plan would be absolutely no cost to the public and a savings of $720,000,000, imagine that our Government doing something to benifit retirees that doesn't cost them a dime.

lkpomn912
931
Points
lkpomn912 11/13/12 - 11:27 pm
0
0
The Left-wingers always

The Left-wingers always win,
chanting, chanting, chanting, chanting that annoy you GOOD

The Left-wingers always win, as they simply wear indies & conservatives down, with brutal Saul Alinsky radical 60’s tactics.

Now you can raise the deficit even higher
Now you can double the debt once again
You can send more troops overseas to die
You can raise the prices of everything so that we are all equally poor like barrio ghetto chumps
get the union thugs and acorn to help you.
More people on welfare, food stamps, free rent, entitlements.

Check back in 4 years and know this will be true fact.
To a liberal freedom means (freeDUMB & freeSTUFF)

robert white
378
Points
robert white 11/14/12 - 10:45 am
0
0
America

Socialism is great until you run out of other peoples money!!

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