President Obama used an interesting phrase more than once
yesterday when talking about the new Republican Congress. Whether it was deliberate or not, the repetition touched on a broader point.
"What we're going to make sure that we do is to reach out to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, who are now running both chambers in Congress, and find out what their agenda is," Obama said. He added, "The good news is that now Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are from the same party; I think they can come together and decide what their agenda is.... They're in the majority; they need to present their agenda."
Right. Ordinarily, a party offers some sense of its agenda before the election, but Republicans chose a different course
in 2014, leaving everyone -- from the White House to the media to the public at large -- to wonder "what their agenda is." We know Republicans wanted more power; we're less sure exactly what they intend to do with it.
To help fill in the gaps, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have an 800-word op-ed
in the Wall Street Journal
today, explaining what they hope to do to "get Congress going."
Looking ahead to the next Congress, we will honor the voters' trust by focusing, first, on jobs and the economy. Among other things, that means a renewed effort to debate and vote on the many bills that passed the Republican-led House in recent years with bipartisan support, but were never even brought to a vote by the Democratic Senate majority. It also means renewing our commitment to repeal ObamaCare, which is hurting the job market along with Americans' health care.
I hate to be a downer -- the Beltway seemed so excited yesterday about the possibility of progress and compromise -- but reading this so soon after the midterms is a reminder that now is the time to start lowering expectations.
It was literally yesterday when Republican leaders suggested they'd try to work with the president. Just hours later, the top GOP leaders published an op-ed in a Murdoch-owned newspaper, "renewing" a "commitment" to destroy the Affordable Care Act, eliminating health care benefits for millions, because of economic arguments that have no foundation in our version of reality.
Can't you just smell the prospects for compromise?
Let's keep going with the op-ed:
For years, the House did its job and produced a steady stream of bills that would remove barriers to job creation and lower energy costs for families.
These bills include measures authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers.
[A] proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
The skeptics say nothing will be accomplished in the next two years. As elected servants of the people, we will make it our job to prove the skeptics wrong.
You're off to a bad start.