President Obama wasted no time in turning up the heat on Republicans. During his post-election press conference, the president said that he was willing to work with Republicans, but he made it clear that it will be put up or shut up time for Boehner, McConnell and congressional Republicans.
Obama said that the American people sent a message that they expected us to work as hard as they do. Obama said, “To everyone who voted I want you to know I hear you.” The president pledged to do the best job that he could for the rest of his term. He ran through an impressive list of positive accomplishments and said that we have to keep at it.
The president said that he would measure ideas, not by partisanship, but on their merits. President Obama said that he and the Republicans have common ground on tax reform, trade, and funding for education and college. He said that the success of the minimum wage as a ballot issue opens the door for increasing the wage.
Obama said, “The point is, it’s time for this country to take care of business. There are things this country has to do that can’t wait another two years or four years.” He said that he still believes what he said when he was elected six years ago last night. We are more than a collection of red and blue states. We are the United States.
The first question was if Obama felt the need to recalibrate after last night’s loss. Obama said it was his responsibility to push through the gridlock and get stuff done. He said the key is to make sure that his ideas overlap with some Republican ideas. Obama said that he would continue to fight for his ideas on the economy.
Obama said that he was looking forward to Republicans putting out a specific agenda. (Aren’t we all.) The president talked up the prospects of an immigration bill and said that he is still going to do his executive action immigration.
The president repeated that the American people are sick of arguing and want action. He called on Congress to pass an immigration bill and get it to his desk.
There was a theme to this press conference. President Obama has positioned himself in the reasonable middle and was putting pressure on Republicans in Congress to act. It was easy for Republicans to complain and criticize when they were in the Senate minority, but beginning in January, they will be expected to act.
When Obama was asked about build relationships with Republicans, he emphasized that Boehner and McConnell have no more excuses, so they need to come together with him to get stuff done. Obama said, “Anywhere where we can find common ground I’m anxious to pursue it.” The president said McConnell has always been straightforward with him, and never made a promise that he couldn’t deliver. The president said that he thought he could have a productive relationship with McConnell.
The problem in Washington has been internal Republican congressional dysfunction. If Republicans fragment and become bogged down with infighting, they will take all the blame for the gridlock in Congress. The president sounded all the right tones, and politically was laying the groundwork for the argument that America needs a Democratic congress in 2016.
The heat is on Boehner and McConnell to deliver. President Obama’s quest for compromise could be very fruitful if Republicans are interested in doing something. However, it is more likely that the Republican agenda for the next two years will be to give President Obama nothing to boost their argument that the obstruction will only end when Republicans are in total control of the government.
Obama gave the first yank of the rope in what should be an epic tug of war between the White House and congressional Republicans. Republicans can’t blame Harry Reid anymore. President Obama is almost out office. Congressional Republicans have to put up or shut up, or Hillary Clinton’s coattails could bring a big blue wave with her to Washington in January 2017.