"The unmistakable message sent by the American people on Tuesday is that they are justifiably angry at Washington. They want Congress to cut spending," wrote Lewis, who faces an internal challenge in his attempt to become chairman of the panel next year.
At a news conference on Wednesday, the president signaled he was ready to jettison his campaign-long insistence that tax cuts be extended for earners at incomes up to $250,000 but be allowed to expire for higher-income people.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made the hint explicit on Thursday. He said extending tax cuts permanently for upper-income earners "is something the president does not believe is a good idea," but that Obama would be open to the possibility of extending the cuts for one or two years.
Republicans responded coolly to the overture. "I take any signal that the president may be backing off his pledge to raise taxes on small businesses as a good sign, but we have to see where this discussion goes," said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, in line to become the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. He and other Republicans say that the expiration of some income tax cuts would be felt on numerous small business owners.
McConnell's speech reflected his status as leader of a minority unable to originate legislation, a position different from the one Boehner will soon hold.
"We have to be realistic about what we can and cannot achieve, while at the same time recognizing that realism should never be confused with capitulation," the Kentucky senator said.
"On health care, that means we can — and should — propose and vote on straight repeal, repeatedly. But we can't expect the president to sign it."
Boehner, in his ABC interview, said he's not sure the president and other Democrats fully understand the message delivered by the voters on Tuesday. "When you have the most historic election in over 60, 70 years, you would think the other party would understand that the American people have clearly repudiated the policies they've put forward in the last few years."
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