Obama sets talks to move forward
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Republican and Democratic leaders later this month in an effort to chart a path forward following midterm elections that saw the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives.
Obama told reporters on Thursday that he has invited incoming House speaker John Boehner, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to meet on Nov. 18.
"I want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people's agenda forward," Obama said of the upcoming meeting. "It's not just going to be a photo op."
Obama said the meeting would be about the economy, unemployment insurance and tax cuts, specifically the Bush-era tax cuts which are due to expire at the end of the year. Obama is in favour of allowing the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans to end, but Republicans want an extension.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday that while extending tax cuts permanently for upper income earners "is something the president does not believe is a good idea", Obama would be open to the possibility of extending the cuts for one or two years.
The day after the midterms, Obama addressed reporters, saying it was important for the two parties to find common ground and that he was eager to sit down with party members to figure out how to move forward.
"What's going to be critically important over the coming months is going to be creating a better working relationship between this White House and the congressional leadership that's coming in," Obama told reporters on Thursday.
Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, said on Thursday, however, that Obama's agenda will have to move toward the Republicans'.
"If the administration wants co-operation, it will have to begin to move in our direction," McConnell said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation.
He added that he would be seeking to erode Obama's health-care law by working to deny funds for implementation in the House and vote against some of the provisions in the Senate. The Republicans could not repeal the legislation because of Obama's veto power.
McConnell said the only way they can repeal health-care legislation, cut spending and shrink government is by putting someone in the White House who won't veto those things.
With files from The Associated Press