- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2010

So much for cooperation.

Two days after voters split control of Congress, Republicans and Democrats already were fighting over the direction they’ll take when they come back to Washington, with the GOP promising votes to repeal the health care law and Democrats saying that’s “out of touch with the middle class.”

One potential concession came from the White House, where a spokesman said President Obama might be open to an extension of all of the Bush tax cuts, if only for a limited time.

But on Capitol Hill, the old dividing lines were redrawn.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the election results were a vindication of his party’s two-year strategy of opposing the entire Obama agenda, and that if the president wants to get anything accomplished for the remainder of this term, he will have “to move in our direction.”

Mr. McConnell also said Senate Republicans will try “repeatedly” to repeal the health care law — but expect to fail as long as Mr. Obama is in office.

Just as unchastened despite their party’s poor showing, Democrats retorted that trying to repeal health care would show the GOP is out of touch with what voters wanted.

“Republicans are seriously misreading this election if they claim a mandate to drag us back to the days of out-of-control health care spending and insurance company abuses and discrimination,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who heads two panels critical to implementing the law.

It was left to the White House to play referee — sort of.

“There will be time for another political campaign, but we just finished one. Candidates weren’t elected to have more fighting in Washington or to re-fight the battles of the past two years,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Mr. Obama has invited congressional leaders to come to the White House later this month and figure out what common ground can be found.

Although they may share the government, they are not yet partners.

Mr. McConnell said he continues to believe Republicans’ goal should be to make Mr. Obama a one-term president, and House Republican leaders laid out broad plans to have committees scrutinize the administration’s actions.

Tuesday’s elections gave Republicans control of the House and substantially bolstered their numbers in the Senate, meaning the GOP now has a greater ability to block those parts of Mr. Obama’s agenda with which they disagree.

Democrats, who spent much of the past two years trying to overcome Republican filibusters on health care, financial regulations and expanded government spending, said that, by sharing power, Republicans will now have to negotiate and make some accomplishments.

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