Bipartisanship: can words be put into action in election year?

February 9, 2010

The president wants it. The public wants it.

But when it comes to bipartisanship, words are easier than action — especially in an election year. OBAMA/

President Barack Obama, who met with congressional leaders from both parties on Tuesday, called for bipartisan solutions to some of  the weighty issues of the day: job creation and deficit reduction.

“As I said in my State of the Union, part of what we’d like to see is the ability of Congress to move forward in a more bipartisan fashion on some of the key challenges that the country is facing right now,” Obama said before the meeting.

“And although the parties are not going to agree on every single item, there should be some areas where we can agree and we can get some things done even as we have vigorous debates on some of those issues that we don’t agree on,” he said.

He did not mention healthcare reform in that first statement.  Obama’s signature domestic priority last year has become bogged down in election-year politics after Democrats lost their filibuster proof majority in the Senate when Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat of the late Edward Kennedy.

Obama has called for a healthcare summit on Feb. 25 for Democrats and Republicans to put their best ideas forward in hopes of moving the stalled legislation. Republicans say the only solution is to start over.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that Americans spread the blame on lack of cooperation in Washington and most want both sides to work to pass healthcare reform.

Nearly six in 10 say Republicans aren’t doing enough to compromise with Obama on important issues, while more than four in 10 see Obama doing too little to get Republican support.

Is bipartisanship possible in a congressional election year or will it be mostly gridlock through November? Who do you think is  more unbending when it comes to compromise — the Democrats or the Republicans?

For more Reuters political news, click here

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (House Republican Leader John Boehner listens to Obama at meeting of congressional leaders at White House)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

What a crock. Obama is trying to make this to be a partisan issue. Well, when he had a filibuster proof senate, his party couldn’t even come together to force his health care debacle on Americans. It is his own party that is his worst enemy and the American people know it too.

The whole democrat and republican working together issue is based on a false premise. I hate to say it, but they are from different parties and don’t agree on what is best for America…Duh!

Limited government is best and when the American people go back to a divided government, it will be better for all of us because fewer bills will become law. One party rule doesn’t work. It didn’t work from 2000 to 2006 and doesn’t work now. It’s worse now than during the previous administration.

Congress has an 18 percent approval and the president has a 44 percent approval rating. Overall, it has never been worse after just one year in power.

November 2010 can’t come soon enough to even the playing field…

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

The incessant talk about “bipartisanship” is itself suspect — A governing majority should be able to give their agenda a shot, (The Bush adminitration did) whether or not the minority approves. But how, exactly, are responsible officials supposed to work with a minority who demands nothing short of 100% satisfaction, despite the fact that they were run out of office because their policies were a massive failure?

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

Again, the democrats who controlled a “filibuster proof” majority in the senate couldn’t even pass their own health care plan (thank goodness).

This is a false issue. But politics is politics and each side will play their games to one up each other. No surprise there.

Polls show how unpopular the agenda of the president and congress are. It is obvious the left is really pulling out all stops to make it seem like it ain’t there fault.

Well, it is their fault. Congress 18 percent approval and the president 44 percent approval.

Their agenda is bad for America and Americans know it.

It’s great when limited government is at the forefront. What is going on now is good for America.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

It would be better to poll people who actually have knowledge about the bill. Most people just take the sound bites they hear on TV and use them as their opinions.

The health care plan started out well intentioned enough. But corporate interests used their voices as “citizens” to lobby congress to screw the bill up so that citizens would not benefit from it. The insurance lobby wants the insurance industry to continue to profit off the sickness and suffering of others.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive

What an uninformed statement, “Corporate interests used their voices as “citizens” to lobby congress”.

There is no Constitutional right to lobby as far as that goes, it is allowed because Congress made it so.

A thought for pause is maybe instead of criticizing the corporations that do lobby, you should criticize the law makers that are so easily influenced. That is the real problem, not the corporations but the law makers.

Posted by naryso | Report as abusive

There was a “bipartisan” meeting at the start of the whole thing, back in February I think of 2009. In any case from what I heard is all it was really for was for Obama and the Democrats to say how great their ideas were, and calm the left who were concerned about some provisions.

There won’t be bipartisanship from the Democrats at this point, they’ll just continue to slam and ridicule anyone that disagrees with them.

The health care bill is terrible, it is to complex, and it costs way to much for the little good it achieves.

Posted by naryso | Report as abusive

The reason they can’t is because the majority is split too. The progressive left continues to try to push the rest of the Democratic party around, and enough of the Democratic party don’t like the bill that they know they can’t get it through without using underhanded techniques that were not meant for major bills like this.

Major bills typically have the support of the people and of enough in congress or they die rather then being passed into law. The progressives do not respect either the people, others in their party or the minority party. They constantly call people “stupid”, “uneducated”, “ignorant” etc because people do not like the bill or the agenda the bill represents.

“The incessant talk about “bipartisanship” is itself suspect — A governing majority should be able to give their agenda a shot, (The Bush adminitration did) whether or not the minority approves. But how, exactly, are responsible officials supposed to work with a minority who demands nothing short of 100% satisfaction, despite the fact that they were run out of office because their policies were a massive failure?”

Posted by naryso | Report as abusive

The Health Insurance and Pharma lobbies continue to push the Democratic party around. Not progressive voters. People don’t like the bill because of underhanded techniques used by AHIP and PhRMA to protect their monopolies and the willingness of both Democrats and Republicans to sell out to them.

Funny how the Reublican minority blocking so many appointments or their unprecedented use of the filibuster to block ALL legislation makes the Democrats the ones who need to be more “bipartisan”.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

What a laugh.

“Unprecedented” use of the filibuster? That sure isn’t the truth. Until Scott Brown won, the senate democrats could eliminate the filibuster, which they did with health care, by sticking together with their 60 vote majority.

If there was any filibuster, then it would be with democrat help, making the filibuster bipartisan, not the other way around.

Face it folks, the American people don’t want what the progressives in congress or the president want. It is too convenient to blame this on anyone else but the American voter making his or her voice heard in the last few election cycles since Nov 2009.

I will be laughing about the “unprecedented” republican filibuster fabrication all night.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

Yes, lying partisan hack, unprecedented.

Republicans are undermining the American political process in ways no one could have imagined a generation ago. 60 votes is now needed to pass any legislation because of Republican obstructionism. The two largest spikes in cloture filings in the last 20 years have been driven by Republican obstructionism.

When Republicans were a Senate minority in 1991-1992, there were 59 cloture filings. When Clinton took office, with Republicans remaining the minority in the Senate, that number shot up to 80 in 1993-1994.

When Democrats reclaimed the Senate majority in the 2006 midterm elections, cloture filings shot up from 68 in 2005-2006 to a record 139 in 2007-2008.

The 2009-2010 Senate is poised to beat that record with nine months remaining. The Party of No. This is what you stand for. Laugh it up.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

63 nominees have been stalled for months in the Senate because GOP senators placed a hold on their nominations. It’s all so FUNNY!

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

Oh, I am certainly laughing.

The democrat party can’t even pass their own legislation with a “formerly” filibuster proof majority. It has nothing to do with republicans filibustering anything. The democrats are their own worst enemy.

Obstructionism? Funny how that works. When your guys are doing it, it’s called legislation, when the other guys are doing it, it’s called “obstructionism”. Yes, still laughing.

The majority of Americans are glad this is all happening because the progressive democrats are trying to force some very bad stuff down our throats, such as health care (well, that’s what they call it anyway…) and cap and trade.

Obstructionism? No, they are very much doing the American people a favor because the American people don’t want what those in power want to force down our throats.

I say, obstruct away. It keeps bad laws from being passed. And the democrats have shown us plenty of them in the past year. 18 percent congressional approval and 44 percent for the president. They are failures and the American people have let their voice be heard through Virginia, NJ and Massachusetts.

More to come in Nov 2010.

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

So a record number of cloture filings by Republican Senators has nothing to do with Republicans filibustering.

Appointments are failing by margins of 54 Yes to 33 No, because, um, the “American people” don’t want what those in power want to force down our throats. A minority party that insists on cloture has nothing to do with it.

Perhaps the 18% Congressional approval has something to do with the fact that some people have held up appointments and legislation for months and months on purely idealogical, political grounds. Perhaps people are registering their disgust with obstructionism, not their approval.

You misunderstand the outcomes of Virginia, NJ and Massachusetts. Conservative propagandists like yourself claim that Democrats are losing because they are too liberal. The Democrats who lost and will lose in November are the most conservative, corporate Democrats, not the more progressive ones.

The country will be much worse off when conservatives force the failed policies of the last decade back onto the books.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

All i can say is you are admitting I am right about the upcoming election. It doesn’t matter how you rationalize it…you are wrong about the outcome. You were wrong in Nov 2009 and you were wrong about the special election in MA and now you finallly admit you were wrong about the upcoming election in Nov 2010.

As I said in the earlier post, some call it obstruction, some call it legislation.

Limited government is good and what is happening right now to stop the agenda the American people don’t want is a good thing for America.

Besides, we don’t need more liberal progressive activist judges in this country. The fewer who are allowed to sit as judges, the better. Yes, that is my opinion.

One thing is for certain, you have an opinion and that’s all it is. I haven’t misunderstood anything. The progressives got clobbered Virginia, NJ and MA.

More to come in Nov 2010. Divided (ie limited) government is a good start to fix the problems both parties created with one party control. Unfortunately, the ones in power now are only hurting our future…for those of us who live in the US…

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive

Conservatism is dying. Americans know that Fox News is propaganda, and that the country always does better under Democratic governance. The latest job numbers and housing numbers prove this. November will not be the big Republican landslide that the believers are predicting.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive