House Republicans see Obama as sincere, just misguided
WASHINGTON – Republicans in the House of Representatives say they appreciate Democratic President Barack Obama’s efforts to win their support for the economic stimulus bill, which is now approaching $900 billion. But they have made it clear that the partisan divide remains extremely hard to bridge.
“He’s sincere. I think he’s passionate,” Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, said on Thursday at a retreat for House Republicans at the Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.
“When he spoke to House Republicans, it was clear to me his sincerity and passion about the level of debt,” he said. “Clearly, we disagree on the economic stimulus effect of the government spending.”
Obama met with the House Republicans on Tuesday but failed to win a single vote from them on House passage of the stimulus plan the next day. With the fight over the legislation now focused on the Senate, Republicans have insisted on a greater emphasis on tax cuts and less on federal spending to reverse the deepening recession.
The House Republican plan includes cutting the lowest income tax rates, expanding tax breaks and incentives to small businesses and eliminating most of the spending House Democrats have put forward.
“It seems to me it’s more either ideological, or it’s just power politics in Congress and spending money on pent-up constituencies that haven’t had a ton of spending for a long time,” said Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican.
Ryan, who is the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, said that while a bipartisan deal on the stimulus package is probably elusive, Obama “did a good job of laying the groundwork for the future collaboration on other projects by coming to us.”
– Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (House and Senate Republican leaders speak to reporters after meeting Obama at the White House.)