President Obama has three Republicans on his cabinent and made overtures to the GOP minority in the House and Senate on the stimulus bill.Â Thus far, his efforts to reach across the aisle have yielded exactly three votes from the Senate from Republican moderates.
Now when George W. Bush was president and the Democrats were in the minority, there was no effort to reach across the aisle.Â Â President Obama was asked about his efforts for bi-partisanship during yesterday’s press conference.Â His response after the jump.
Question: Thank you, Mr. President. You have often said that bipartisanship is extraordinarily important, overall and in this stimulus package, but now, when we ask your advisers about the lack of bipartisanship so far — zero votes in the House, three in the Senate — they say, “Well, it’s not the number of votes that matters; it’s the number of jobs that will be created.”
Is that a sign that you are moving away — your White House is moving away from this emphasis on bipartisanship?
And what went wrong? Did you underestimate how hard it would be to change the way Washington works?
Obama: Well, I don’t think — I don’t think I underestimated it. I don’t think the — the American people underestimated it. They understand that there have been a lot of bad habits built up here in Washington, and it’s going to take time to break down some of those bad habits.
You know, when I made a series of overtures to the Republicans, going over to meet with both Republican caucuses, you know, putting three Republicans in my cabinet — something that is unprecedented — making sure that they were invited here to the White House to talk about the economic recovery plan, all those were not designed simply to get some short-term votes. They were designed to try to build up some trust over time.
And I think that, as I continue to make these overtures, over time, hopefully that will be reciprocated.
But understand the bottom line that I’ve got right now, which is what’s happening to the people of Elkhart and what’s happening across the country. I can’t afford to see Congress play the usual political games. What we have to do right now is deliver for the American people.
So my bottom line when it comes to the recovery package is: Send me a bill that creates or saves 4 million jobs. Because everybody has to be possessed with a sense of urgency about putting people back to work, making sure that folks are staying in their homes, that they can send their kids to college.
That doesn’t negate the continuing efforts that I’m going to make to listen and engage with my Republican colleagues. And hopefully the tone that I’ve taken, which has been consistently civil and respectful, will pay some dividends over the long term. There are going to be areas where we disagree, and there are going to be areas where we agree.
As I said, the one concern I’ve got on the stimulus package, in terms of the debate and listening to some of what’s been said in Congress, is that there seems to be a set of folks who — I don’t doubt their sincerity — who just believe that we should do nothing.
Now, if that’s their opening position or their closing position in negotiations, then we’re probably not going to make much progress, because I don’t think that’s economically sound and I don’t think what — that’s what the American people expect, is for us to stand by and do nothing.
With the entire OC GOP caucus voting against the Stimulus package means quite simply they are voting against the best interest of their constituents and in favor of unelected influentials like Rush Limbaugh.Â Orange County is a donor county.Â Our taxes leave the county and we get far fewer dollars coming back in from Washington because of the lack of action from our congressional leaders.Â
This reminds mew on the no-compromise position Republicans in the state assembly and state senate have taken in regards to bipartisanship.Â Republicans barely make up 30 percent of the electorate in California but have just enough seats to hold the state hostage as Jon Flesichman does his best Rush Limbaugh impression.Â Their notion of bipartisanship is make Democratics adopt a conservative viewpoint.Â
I’m hoping the DNC will turn loose a torrent of money into county races in 2010 because frankly, with good candidates, we can knock off some of these do nothing Republican congressmen here.