Obama calls midterm elections 'humbling,' promises to do better
He acknowledged the 'shellacking' Democrats took in the midterm elections. But at his press conference Wednesday, Obama did not back away from policies that got him in trouble with voters.
A subdued President Obama acknowledged in a press conference Wednesday afternoon the “shellacking” his Democratic Party suffered in Tuesday’s midterm elections, and promised to work with the Republicans on a range of issues, foremost the economy.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Obama called the election results “humbling.” Indeed, there was no way to put a good face on a midterm result in which the Democrats lost at least 60 seats and control of the House, saw their Senate majority reduced, and lost 10 governors’ seats.
"Some election nights are more fun than others,” Obama said in understated fashion, just two years after his own historic election. “Some are exhilarating, some are humbling.”
While the president stated that he has to work harder at building consensus, he did not back away from the very policy choices he made during his first two years in office that got him in trouble, namely the big economic stimulus package, the auto industry bailout, comprehensive health-care reform, and financial regulatory reform.
“If right now we had 5 percent unemployment instead of 9.6 percent unemployment, then people would have more confidence in those policy choices,” Obama said.
He said he won’t rule out any ideas based on which side of the aisle they come from, and that he’s interested only in what works. But the rub comes in determining up front what will “work.” The top issue going forward is the future of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year. Obama said this has to be addressed during next month’s lame-duck session of Congress, but there is still no bipartisan agreement over what to do with tax cuts for top earners. Obama wants to let the tax cuts expire on the top 2 percent of taxpayers, but Republicans want those cuts to continue, especially since some small-business owners would be affected. Republicans say any tax increase now will hurt the economic recovery.
Some analysts have predicted that the next two years will be dominated by partisan gridlock, but Obama laid out several areas of potential collaboration. On energy, he suggested Democrats and Republicans can work together on how best to develop the nation’s natural-gas resources, work on energy efficiency, and ensure that electric cars are developed in the United States. He also spoke of restarting America’s nuclear industry “as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases.”
Obama said he saw “potential common ground” on education.
“I think everybody in this country thinks that we've got to make sure our kids are equipped in terms of their education, their science background, their math background, to compete in this new global economy,” the president said.