GOP behaved selfishly from start of my presidency
Elaborating on his failure to heal the partisan divide in Washington, President Obama said Thursday his presidency got off to a bad start in 2009 because some Republican lawmakers were more concerned about their re-election than they were in helping him to save the nation from economic ruin.
Speaking at a town-hall-style event in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the president said he has “done soul-searching” in office about what he could have done differently to work more effectively with Republicans in Congress.
“I think part of it had to do with when I came in, we had a real emergency and we had to act quickly,” he said of the recession in 2009 that prompted a government bailout of the auto industry and passage of an $800-billion-plus economic “stimulus” package that cleared Congress.
The problem, Mr. Obama said, was that “people in Washington sometimes weren’t always as focused on getting the job done as they were, ‘How’s this going to position us for future elections’?”
No Republicans voted for the stimulus in the House, and just three voted for it in the Senate — one of whom, then-Sen. Arlen Specter, quickly fled the GOP.
Soon after the stimulus vote Mr. Obama began work on his health care law, which also turned into a partisan fight. Although the president invited Republicans and Democrats to the White House to talk about his plans, in the end Democrats moved ahead without the GOP, clearing the bill through the House and Senate without earning a single Republican vote.