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Face to face, Obama urges Republicans to cooperate

 From left, President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Va., bow their heads during the...
 President Barack Obama speaks to Republican lawmakers at the GOP House Issues Conference in Baltimore, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dhara...

Obama

From left, President Barack Obama, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Va., bow their heads during the...

Obama

President Barack Obama speaks to Republican lawmakers at the GOP House Issues Conference in Baltimore, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dhara...

In a face-to-face encounter, President Barack Obama chastised Republican lawmakers Friday for opposing him on health care, economic stimulus and other major issues.
Republicans pushed back on taxes and spending, and accused Obama of not taking their ideas seriously.
Obama, attending the House Republicans' retreat in Baltimore, began with conciliatory remarks but soon became more pointed. He said a Republican-driven "politics of no" was blocking action on bills that could help Americans obtain jobs and health care.
Republicans have political momentum after last week's Massachusetts special election, in which they captured the Senate seat long held by a Democrat, the late Edward M. Kennedy. They view that election as a referendum on Obama's policies, giving them little incentive to cooperate with Democrats ahead of the November congressional elections.
In a sometimes-barbed exchange Friday, Obama said some in the audience have attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects funded by the stimulus package they voted against. Obama also questioned why Republicans have overwhelmingly opposed his tax-cut policies, which he said have benefited 95 percent of American families.
"The notion that this was a radical package is just not true," Obama said. "I am not an ideologue."
Republican lawmakers pressed the president to pledge to support a line-item veto for spending bills and across-the-board tax cuts. Obama demurred, saying billionaires don't need new tax cuts.
In his opening remarks, Obama criticized a Washington culture driven by opinion polls and nonstop political campaigns.
"I don't think the American people want us to focus on our job security, they want us to focus on their job security," he said.
The president acknowledged that Republicans have joined Democrats in some efforts, such as sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. But he said he was disappointed and perplexed by virtually unanimous Republican opposition to other programs, such as the $787 billion economic stimulus bill enacted a year ago.
He also noted overwhelming Republican opposition to his plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system, a proposal that is now in legislative peril. Obama said he would gladly look at better ideas, but he urged Republicans to acknowledge the difficulties that many Americans face in obtaining good health care.
Obama said it makes ideological sense for Democrats and Republicans to work together on some issues such as charging fees to banks that benefited from a federal bailout, temporarily freezing some government spending, keeping jobs from being exported and paying for new government programs when they are created.
Republicans have sharply criticized Obama's approach to most of these issues.
Obama's meeting with the Republican lawmakers Friday comes two days after he appealed in his State of the Union speech for an end to Washington's sharp partisan rift.


Updated : 2021-06-20 19:03 GMT+08:00