After Obama speech, Democrats confused about path ahead

Paul Kane and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post
January 29, 2010

A day after President Obama called on them to renew efforts to pass his ambitious agenda, congressional Democrats remained in disarray Thursday about how to move forward, with at least some pointing at the White House as the cause of the legislative standstill gripping Capitol Hill.

Democrats left town early Thursday weighing their next steps on everything from the stalled health-care bill to competing job-creation packages. Before they departed, some criticized Obama for casting blame on the Senate, where moderates felt singled out for ridicule. Others sought to shift the burden to the GOP, latching on to Obama’s call for Republicans to share responsibility for governing after a devastating special-election loss left Democrats a vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Still others said the president’s calls for bipartisanship were wishful thinking and suggested that daring Republicans to block their ambitious agenda would set up a “liberating” contrast for November’s midterm elections.

“We also have the responsibility, if we can’t find that common ground, to stand our ground on principles,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), rejecting bipartisanship as a goal unto itself. “If we can’t find a bipartisan way to do it, we are not going to say, ‘Well, if it is not bipartisan, we are not going to do it.’ We are going to do what we believe.”…

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said the mistake was not keeping the emphasis on ways to fix the economy and create jobs throughout 2009. “I think that the recession has proven to be much longer and deeper than he thought it would be,” Bingaman said. “Hindsight being 20/20, we should have kept more focus on that. . . . There have been so many issues and events that have intervened, it’s been hard to keep a focus on the economy.”…

The article, with embedded video, continues at the Washington Post.

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