Obama presses on with GOP charm offensive

President reaches out to Republicans.
Associated Press
Mar 8, 2013

Punctuated with the sounds of ringing phones and clinking china, President Barack Obama's new legislative diplomacy has Republicans wondering what took so long.

Obama pressed ahead Thursday with his bipartisan political outreach, eliciting a cautious welcome in a capital that has been riven by gridlock and partisanship over how to lower deficits and stabilize the nation's debt.

Obama had the Republican House Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan, and the committee's top Democrat, Chris Van Hollen, to lunch at the White House, a day after he dined with a dozen Republican senators in what the White House said was an effort to find common ground with rank-and-file lawmakers.

Few were willing to guarantee that the engagement would yield results. Previous presidents have tried to develop relationships with members of Congress with varying degrees of success, though some of the biggest pieces of legislation, such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a Social Security deal in 1983 required cross-party efforts by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan.

"We're not naive about the challenges that we still face; they exist," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "And there are differences."

Obama has negotiated directly in the past with House Speaker John Boehner in hopes of finding a large deficit reduction deal, but those efforts have faltered as the president pursued deals with tax increases that Republicans oppose. Most recently, neither side worked hard to avoid $85 billion in automatic spending cuts and instead devolved into partisan finger-pointing over which side was more to blame.

Boehner said Obama's new approach represented a 180-degree turn. "He is going to, after being in office now over four years, he is actually going to sit down and talk to members," Boehner said. "I think it is a sign, a hopeful sign, and I'm hopeful that something will come out of it. But if the president continues to insist on tax hikes, I don't think we're going to get very far."

Carney argued that Obama's new talks with congressional Republicans did not signal a shift as much as an attempt to seize an opportunity after automatic spending cuts kicked in last Saturday but months before another fiscal deadline looms. But in briefing reporters Thursday, Carney noticeably dialed back his criticism of Republicans and emphasized the "common ground" that existed between the parties.

"The fact is, this should have been happening all along," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., one of the dozen Republicans who joined Obama for dinner Wednesday night at a hotel a few blocks from the White House.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a veteran of Washington politics who got an ice-breaking call from Obama this week, said he appreciated his talk with Obama but said that type of engagement should have occurred much sooner.

"He's the first president in my experience, and I've known or worked with eight, who's had almost no personal relationships here in the Senate, on either side as far as I can tell," Alexander said.ms

Obama may be attempting his charm blitz later than most presidents do. Some presidents have found common ground with opponents sooner, others have not. Former Republican Senate leader Trent Lott, speaking at the 2009 ceremony unveiling his majority leader's portrait in the Senate, said he and President Bill Clinton maintained a friendly relationship even though they quarreled bitterly in public.

"Even if I did or said something stupid — or vice versa, excuse me, Mr. President — the main thing about it is that quite often we'd call one or the other and we'd laugh about it," Lott said as Clinton smiled and nodded at his side.

Senate Historian Donald Ritchie said that Reagan, during his first year in office, called every member of Congress. "His congressional liaison found that that worked against him in the long run because members of Congress expected the president to call them on every issue," Ritchie said.

Indeed, Ritchie said, no matter what the relationship is between a president and Congress, lawmakers inevitably complain that presidential outreach is not enough and presidents regularly argue that members of Congress demand too much.

Obama's outreach comes as Senate Democrats appeared to move toward easing passage for a spending measure to pay for day-to-day federal operations through September. Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said there's a "delicate balance" between supporting Obama administration priorities and going too far as to "sink the bill."

Mikulski said the Senate would give agencies including the Agriculture, Homeland Security and Justice departments their detailed, line-by-line budgets as part of legislation advancing next week to head off a government shutdown at the end of March. Other agencies would run on autopilot essentially at last year's funding levels. The automatic cuts — 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon — would apply whether or not an agency received its detailed budget.

The House passed its version of the legislation Wednesday.

Obama plans to address Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate separately next week, the next step in his approach to spell out his agenda to lawmakers.

White House aides say the effort to reach out to rank-and-file members is designed to let the president explain his policies without the filter of party leaders, with whom he has dealt with in the past.

Along with Corker, the lawmakers in attendance at Wednesday's dinner were Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Dan Coats of Indiana, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mike Johanns of Nebraska.

 

Comments

The Big Dog's back

Whatever floats your boat mikel.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

The Big Dog's back wrote: Lowest unemployment in 4 years! The economy is moving forward

@The Big Dog's back,
Now if that aint a dim-witted liberal kool-aid drinking comment. Golly! The big pup must be frothing at the mouth.

Obama Wins Reelection With Highest Unemployment Rate Of Any President Since FDR

anthras

about 7 out of 10 jobs created are government jobs. Unemployment is lowered by more persond dropping out of the job market and records of numbers going on social security disability

coasterfan

I agree with BD. In 2008, I was unemployed and my home was foreclosed upon (I was one of the millions of victims of the housing crisis ushered in by Mr. Bush's policies). My recovery mirrored the country's: new job in 2009, and each year has been a little better than the one before it. The massive economy free-fall is in our rear view mirror, as well as my own. I shudder to think where I would be if McCain had won.

Contango

@ coasterfan:

McCain win - not much difference; Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Enjoy your victim hood as a spoiled American.

Do you know that if you make $48K annually, that you are one of the one percenters in the WORLD?

You’re among the world’s wealthy!

This tepid "recovery" has a direct correlation to Fed policies begun in '08. Pres. BHO's stimulus programs did pretty much squat.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

@ coasterfan
The Housing Price Bubble began to form in 1997 and the Clinton Administration housing secretary Andrew Cuomo helped spawn the mortgage crisis years later.
Bush was far from perfect but put blame where blame is due and get your facts straight.

goofus

Here's one of the reasons of the housing collapse Mr subprime coasterfan.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB...

arnmcrmn

Big Dog....your facts are wrong yet again. lol. you still working on that education.

The Big Dog's back

What facts are wrong? Unemployment at 7.7%.

arnmcrmn

You fail to ignore the % of people who aren't counted in the unemployment count because their unemployment benefits have ran out and they have simply stopped looking for a job. Why do you think welfare is up 44% over the last 4 years? When one runs out of unemployment, they get dropped off that chart and get added to the welfare chart. Derp, surprised you couldn't figure that one out on your own. This nation has not yet moved in the right direction. Its been totally stagnant for the last 2 years.

You liberals are absolutely amazing. Its going to take 2-3 full % points in the right direction for avg. American to believe anyone has anything back on track. You are nowhere to be found blaming Bush when unemployment ticks up .1-.3, but when it goes down .1%, you are on here gloating about it. We all know how the system is rigged. We all know that if Obie released a report today showing the actual unemployment it would shock a lot of people....maybe even you, but Obie loves when people fall off the unemployment chart for 2 reasons. 1. Makes his recovery look better to the blind liberals. 2. He has yet another vote because now they are hooked on government handouts to survive. Huge fail again kiddo.

coasterfan

Dog, the only facts that matter to them are those which back up their narrow world view. If it proves them wrong, they don't believe it. As Jon Stewart says, they live in the Rpublican bubble, in which facts don't get in...

Contango

@ coasterfan:

Here's a "fact" for ya: Why is the U.S. labor force participation rate at 30 yr. lows?

Disability, SS and welfare payments are helping to make up for the lack of jobs.

Figures that you get your economic info from a comedian.

coasterfan

If you look at unemployment as a bar graph, it's impossible to state that it hasn't gotten markedly better since Obama took office. It jumped from 5% to 10% from late 2007 through early 2009. Since that time, it has gone steadily lower to the current 7.7%. Now that more than 200,000 jobs have been added each month since November, economists are now revising their 2013 projections to an even more rosy picture.

I kept thinking that, as statistics kept piling up, Republicans would be forced to admit that things are getting better. But they haven't done that. It takes some mental gymnastics to ignore 4 years of obvious statistics...

Contango

@ coasterfan:

Correlation, not causation.

The Fed is doin' the heavy lifting with monetary policy. Fiscal policy is a mess.

Rebounds are expected after an economic downturn - it's called the business cycle. This one is very fragile.

Labor force participation rates are at 30 yr. lows - not good.

SS, disability and welfare payments are filling in the gap of lost jobs.

It’s like putting icing on a rotten cake.

coasterfan

Meh. If unemployment goes up, you blame Obama. If it goes down, you don't believe it's real. So, in other words, you only accept those facts that bolster your point of view. Rolls eyes...

The Big Dog's back

winnie lives on bullspit mountain.

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

The Big pup fussed at the nipple, took a few angry suckles and broke into hysterical wails when the truth is pointed out to him.

Contango

@ coasterfan:

The unemployment rate only counts those who are collecting unemployment benefits.

The U.S. labor force participation rate is at a 32 yr. low:

Feb. 1981 - 63.9%

Feb. 2013 - 63.5%

Are you sure that isn't your brain rollin' in your head? :)

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/L...

OSUBuckeye59

The Great Recession of 2008-09 destroyed $18 trillion in net worth. Indices tracking the stock market and home prices both showed a drop of about half. A drop of even 20% in house prices can wipe out the net worth of many households. A drop of half is catastrophic. It wasn't just that incomes fell with rising unemployment: the wealth effect pulled down spending by staggering amounts. (And of course this creates a vicious cycle as dropping incomes erodes wealth which drags down incomes which .... )

Fast forward to the present .... Job numbers are up. In February, the economy created 236,000 jobs - that's now nearly 2 million in the last 12 months. Unemployment dropped to 7.7%, down from 8.3% a year ago and down from 7.9% the month before. http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/08/...

Home prices are up nearly 10% (http://www.aei-ideas.org/2013/03...) in the last year. This means an increase in net worth of about $17,000 for the typical home owner. Zillow estimates that about 2 million homeowners were freed from negative equity in 2012 and forecasts that another million will climb above zero in 2013.

Economists were incredibly aligned (http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2...) on their 2013 forecast, which is ridiculous given the amount of uncertainty in the economy. In a typical year, the gap between economic forecasts is about 2% (predictions ranging from, say, 0% to 2% for growth). For 2013, the gap was only .4%, predictions ranging from 2.1% to 2.5%.

US GDP is $15 trillion. The US lost about $18 trillion in the Great Recession of 2008-09. A recovery of all the stock value and about a third of the home value ends up improving wealth by nearly one year of GDP. That's huge. And could easily account for extra spending of about $150 billion - an additional one percent of GDP growth that I'm now forecasting in comparison to real economists. Whether for good or bad, a wealth swing equal to one year's GDP can't help but have a huge effect on GDP growth.

coasterfan

The recession started in 2007. It is more accurately called the Bush Recession of 2007-08. It would be a surprise if historians remembered it any other way.

Contango

@ coasterfan:

So do you think that housing prices should have continued into the stratosphere without a market correction?

What is pumping up the Dow, which on an inflation adjusted basis in still off it's yr. 2000 highs by about 10%?

The Big Dog's back

Get a job.

coasterfan

Contango: Housing crash wouldn't have occurred without the egregious mistakes/greed of your party. So, why not direct the question to them?

This article is about Obama offering the olive branch, and - yet again - reaching across the aisle to compromise. how unfortunate that the GOP cannot do the same. Buncha losers...

The Big Dog's back

Obama offers the Olive branch and the Repubs take a chainsaw to it.

Contango

coasterfan writes:

"Housing crash wouldn't have occurred without the egregious mistakes/greed of your party."

Still ain't a Repub. Nothing goes up in price forever.

The Dems wanted affordable housing and Fannie and Freddie helped give it to 'em with lotsa $ for sub-prime loans.

Why are Fannie and Freddie still in receivership?

One of the next financial bubbles is student loans. Billions of dollars and no credit checks. It's the new sub-prime fiasco compliments of the govt.

This future cow patty is Pres. BHO's and the Dems.

OMG.LOL.WT_

"Still ain't a Repub. Nothing goes up in price forever." Not even gasoline?

Contango

@ OMG.LOL.WT_:

Ya need to look at it on an inflation adjusted basis:

http://inflationdata.com/Inflati...

Remember, every yr. that $1 USD in your pocket tends to be worth less and less.

Democracies tend to inflate themselves out of debt to the detriment of their citizens.

Darwin's choice

How "charming" is this?......http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/2...

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

Why do democrats blame bush for everything?

If obama said put your lips on my nipple and suckle on it, all the liberal democrats would have to fight off The Big Pooch's back to get their turn.

jas

Believe it or not, if both sides are willing to risk ignoring the extremists in their parties, there is a middle ground where agreement can be reached. Unfortunately, the more moderate Democrats and Republicans are too afraid of the extremists to act.

Pages