GOP Seeks Common Ground With Obama
September 6, 2011
The two top House Republicans want President Barack Obama to huddle with congressional leadership before his Thursday jobs speech to discuss potential areas of bipartisan agreement.
In a letter to the president Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) laid out several areas of common ground, including passing three long-stalled trade agreements, reducing regulation and funding certain infrastructure projects.
The letter, coming the day Congress returns from its August recess, seems to strike a slightly new tone. Cantor and Boehner have spent the bulk of Obama’s term criticizing his policies, but as Congress reconvenes, they seem to be putting more of an emphasis on cooperation with the administration.
“While we each sincerely believe that our own policy prescriptions for economic recovery are what is best for the country, neither of us is likely to convince the other in a manner that results in the full implementation of those policies,” Boehner and Cantor wrote in the letter. “While it is important that we continue to debate and discuss our different approaches to job creation, it is also critical that our differences not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement. We should not approach this as an all or nothing situation.”
This is all in advance of a major push this week by the White House to jump-start an agenda to try to cut away at the lingering 9 percent unemployment rate. The economy produced zero jobs in August, and with Republicans in control of the House and Obama in control of the White House, there has only been common ground reached in the face of economic calamity.
Obama’s speech will come one day after the NBC News/POLITICO debate Wednesday, which will have nearly the entire Republican presidential field sharing a stage in Simi Vally, Calif.
Boehner and Cantor, in their letter, ask Obama to work with the GOP to “reduce excessive regulation that is hampering job growth in our country.”
They also suggest that the federal government move off a requirement that has states set aside 10 percent for “transportation enhancements,” so they are able to fix their infrastructure.
Echoing another common Republican refrain, Boehner and Cantor say the House “is ready” to pass free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama immediately.