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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Republicans say meeting with Obama welcome but now is time for real action



President Obama continued to reach out to lawmakers on Capitol Hill today, this time visiting with House Republicans. But while there was widespread praise for the move, few encouraging signs emerged of breakthrough on major issues dividing the two parties.

"Everything he said sounded good. It made you want to wrap your arms around him and love him," said Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores. "But there were not problems solved today. He made it very clear that he did not have a political agenda because he could not run again. That (belies) the fact that he is out campaigning against the Republican congress."

Young said Obama mentioned entitlement reform but mostly said how Democrats are divided between reformers and those who say hands off.

"He was short on specifics, but long on charm," Young said. 

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami said: "If this is the beginning of a true effort on his part to communicate, it would mean something. But we’ve been here before. Do I have great expectations that it’s going to be different? No, but I would welcome that."

As Diaz-Balart spoke outside the House chamber, Rep. John Mica of Winter Park came over. "The most important thing was when Obama told us there was white smoke," meaning a new pope had been selected. "Somebody jumped up and said it came out of the White House and they restarted the tours." Rep. Tom Rooney said in a statement: “I appreciate the President coming to speak with us today. This is just the second time he’s met with us since he was elected, so I hope it signifies a real change of heart and serious desire to stop campaigning against us full-time and to start working with us to find solutions. Coming to the Capitol or inviting Republicans to dinner is a good step toward repairing the president's broken relationships with Congress, but isn’t going to get us closer to a deal to solve our debt crisis unless it’s followed by a good-faith effort by the President to cut spending and reform Social Security and Medicare.

“We’ll know how serious the President is about reaching a solution when we see his budget proposal. Is he really willing to make changes to save Social Security and Medicare for the next generation, and will he stand up to Democrats in Congress who want to lead these programs into bankruptcy by maintaining the status quo?”

From the White House:

"The President visited with the House Republican Conference on Capitol Hill this afternoon to discuss important proposals before Congress such as initiatives to create jobs, reform our immigration system, reduce gun violence, strengthen our cyber-security and pursue a balanced approach to deficit reduction.  The President appreciated having the opportunity to meet with the Conference.  He had a good, substantive exchange with members of the Conference and enjoyed the conversation.  The President handled a variety of questions on a range of topics from the members and reinforced his strong desire, especially now that the election is over, to find bipartisan common ground on a range of legislative priorities.  He noted that they did not need to resolve all policy differences to make progress on challenges facing the country where there is agreement."


[Last modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 5:26pm]


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