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Obama concedes ‘shellacking’
Blames process, not his policies, for Democrats’ setback
House Republican leaders, though, said they stand ready to work with him.
Rep. Eric Cantor, the second-ranking House Republican, said he and Mr. Obama spoke about the House GOP’s one-year earmark moratorium.
“If the president would like to partner in this effort, I gladly take him up on that offer,” Mr. Cantor said.
For their part, Democratic leaders said the message they heard from voters is to work together. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, quickly returned to pre-election rhetoric, saying it is up to the GOP to move away from being the “party of no.”
Mr. Reid is likely to remain Senate Democrats’ leader after winning support Wednesday from his two potential rivals. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat whose caucus has now shed all of the gains it made under her guidance in 2006 and 2008, told ABC News she is not sure whether she will try to remain as its leader.
Mr. Obama acknowledged at least temporary defeat on one of his original legislative priorities, saying it’s now politically impossible to impose a price on carbon emissions and set up a “cap-and-trade” scheme.
He said the new balance of power doesn’t mean the two parties should wait before moving forward on a smaller energy bill they can both support, however, and listed developing renewable- and clean-energy sources as points of cooperation.
The president said he also expects to find Republicans willing to work together on education, infrastructure and small business, and again urged Congress to pass his the second stimulus infrastructure spending package he proposed in September.
Comparing himself to popular predecessors Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — both of whom saw midterm losses amid sagging approval ratings, yet went on to win re-election — Mr. Obama said it’s “hard not to seem removed” when he’s in the White House. That’s why, he said, he likes to travel outside the Beltway and meet with the public. But he said he’s become trapped by Washington.
The president said grappling with the aftermath of voters’ rejection “is something I think every president needs to go through.” Still, he did not retreat from any parts of his first-term agenda, and even defended the health care law, though it required the kind of deal-making he said he had hoped to change in Washington.
Mr. Obama said the deals Democrats used to push the bill through represent “something I regret,” and said he wished the process had been “healthier.” But he argued it was worth it because the law was overwhelmingly beneficial to seniors, families and other groups.
At the same time, he said, he would be “happy to consider” Republican proposals to tweak and improve the law, such as eliminating an unpopular provisions that small businesses say pose an undue paperwork burden.
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About the Author
Kara Rowland, White House reporter for The Washington Times, is a D.C.-area native. She graduated from the University of Virginia, where she studied American government and spent nearly all her waking hours working as managing editor of the Cavalier Daily, UVa.’s student newspaper.
Her interest in political reporting was piqued by an internship at Roll Call the summer before her ...
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