Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Obama starts to play defense with new Congress

After an aggressive two years on the legislative front, President Obama starts today to play defense.

Obama will continue to promote jobs, energy and education programs in the months ahead, but he and aides will probably spend more time defending his health care, stimulus and Wall Street regulation bills from the new Republican House.

The House being sworn in today has set a Jan. 12 vote to repeal the health care bill. It's largely a symbolic act -- the Democratic-run Senate won't follow suit, and Obama would veto a repeal in any case -- but Republicans can try to defund parts of the health care plan as various provisions come on line.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., new chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, has vowed to investigate such items as how Obama administration regulation affects job creation, and the roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says he will curb what he calls excessive regulation by the administration. He cited rules by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit greenhouse gases as a response to global warming.

"We are not going to let this administration regulate what they've been unable to legislate," Upton told Fox News.

Of course, the House is only one part of Congress. Democrats have a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, but the addition of six new Republicans will make it easier for the GOP to block Obama initiatives.

Obama has largely held his fire on the Republicans, saying voters want the parties to work together to create jobs rather than play politics leading into the 2012 presidential election.

Aboard Air Force One yesterday, Obama said he hopes Republican congressional leaders "realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012."

"Our job this year is to make sure that we build on the recovery," Obama said.

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