WASHINGTON – The Senate's top Republican says President Barack Obama and a more-Republican Congress could join to pass laws on trade and spending policy and make changes to the health care overhaul if the administration listens to voters on Election Day.
"I can't believe he's going to continue to ignore the wishes of the American people if his party has a very bad day Nov. 2," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "If he pivots and wants to work with us, obviously I'd be happy to talk to him."
White House spokesman Bill Burton said Obama "is eager to work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, who wants to work together to meet the challenges facing our country.
"After two years of partisan posturing and parliamentary roadblocks, it would be a welcome change if Sen. McConnell were to embrace the politics of cooperation and problem-solving," Burton added. Given the heated campaign trail rhetoric by Republican candidates vowing to overturn the health care law, for example, "we'll wait and see."
The two sides may have little choice but to work together on key issues in the new session of Congress that opens in January. Republicans are expected to gain seats in the House and Senate, if not overturn the Democratic majority, just as Obama's 2012 re-election campaign effectively begins.
Speaking from his home in Louisville, Ky., McConnell said there are several areas of agreement that already exist between congressional Republicans and Obama that, theoretically, could pass quickly.
Those issues, he said, include an arcane tax reporting law on businesses that's part of the unpopular health care overhaul. Even Obama wants the so-called 1099 provision changed so that businesses are not overburdened with paperwork.
McConnell also suggested that the two sides could write into law trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama in an effort to create jobs.
Promoting nuclear energy and working to reduce federal spending and debt are other policy areas on which McConnell predicted the two sides could come to quick agreement.