To President Obama’s critics, he will never bring about the era of bipartisan cooperation that he campaigned on in 2008, but the facts prove otherwise.
The president’s nomination of conservative Republican Chuck Hagel to his cabinet is just another example in a long line of Obama’s attempts to reach across the aisle and work with a recalcitrant Republican minority. Here are a few other gems, as we highlight some of Obama’s most bipartisan gestures of his first term and the Republican response.
1) Keeping Robert Gates as secretary of defense
In January, 2009: Obama is inaugurated and immediately seeks out Republican lawmakers willing to work with his new agenda. He makes it a point to maintain Robert Gates (previously appointed by Republican President George W. Bush) as his Secretary of Defense. Some Republicans on the Hill even whisper that Obama was working with them more than Bush ever did.
Republican response in January, 2009: Rush Limbaugh welcomes the president with a hearty “I hope he fails."
2) Obama meets with pro-choice and pro-life advocates
In May, 2009: Obama begins the first of several sessions meeting with pro-choice advocates and their detractors in order to help design legislation that protects both the lives of women and the unborn.
Republican response in September, 2009: South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson shouts “You lie!” at the president during Obama’s speech to Congress wherein he intended to reach out to Republicans and voice his concerns with our failing healthcare system and his plans to fix it. To make matters worse, fact checkers have disproved Wilson’s claim, saying that the healthcare proposal explicitly does not provide for illegal immigrants.
3) Obama listens to Republicans on health care
In January, 2010: Obama holds a meeting with Republicans in Baltimore, where he allows for a candid question-and-answer session in order to hear directly from the opposition and allow them to express their skepticism. A month later, he speaks with Republicans in what will be dubbed the “Healthcare Summit.” Obama compromised his initial plan for a single-payer system, instead seeking a Republican-promoted individual mandate mirroring the one Mitt Romney created as Governor of Massachusetts in the 1990s.
Republican response in October, 2010: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell states that the most important objective of the Republican Party is to make Obama a one-term president, not fixing our budget/debt issues, our broken healthcare, education or immigration systems, and certainly not protecting U.S. citizens from terrorist attacks.
4) Obama compromises on 2010 budget deal
In December, 2010: Obama compromises on his previously-stated goal of not prolonging the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy by agreeing to a budget deal. By doing so, Obama provides for the continuation of unemployment benefits to the needy, establishes a payroll tax holiday, renews the inheritance tax, and ensures that the government continues paying its debts.
Republican response by Spring of 2012: Senate Republicans have blocked Obama’s judicial nominees at an unprecedented rate, delaying their being placed on the bench by greater than four times more than Democrats ever did to Bush judicial nominees.
5) Obama compromises on "fiscal cliff"
On January 1st, 2013: Obama once-again compromises on a “fiscal cliff” deal by raising the threshold of the income level for whom taxes would rise from $250,000 to $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families and pushing back sequestration of funds allocated to the military. His deal-making resulted in the Federal government receiving even less revenues than Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner had previously offered to allow.