Obama's Legacy Tied to Democratic Control of House

Sunday, 03 Mar 2013 10:43 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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President Barack Obama is moving ahead with plans to win back a Democratic House in 2014, a move important to securing his legacy as president.

Following his failed meeting with Republican leaders to try to stave off the sequester, the president told reporters last week that he can't “force Congress to do the right thing,” The Washington Post reports, and that “the American people may have the capacity to do that.”

Obama's words reflect his growing exasperation with the Republican-controlled House, and underscores his need to raise money for fellow Democrats. Without a Democrat-controlled House, Obama's legislative agenda items — including gun control, immigration, climate change, and the economy — will likely not pass, endangering his legacy.

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“The president understands that to get anything done, he needs a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives,” said U.S. Rep/ Steve Israel of New York, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “To have a legacy in 2016, he will need a House majority in 2014, and that work has to start now.”

Democrats have to gain back 17 House seats to take back the House majority, which the party lost in 2010. Obama has already committed to eight fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year compared with only two such events in 2009.

Obama has also pledged his Organizing for Action group, formed from his campaign organization, to work for Democratic House candidates, including sharing voter data with the party campaign committee.

But the president, by working to shift the House, risks being seen as a partisan politician, something that he at one time spoke out against. In addition, the ill will generated from such an approach may further hinder the president's agenda as Republicans fight back against an increasingly combative White House.

In January, Republican House Speaker John Boehner insisted that Obama intends to “annihilate” the Republican Party during his second term, and even though the White House denies the charges, Boehner's office hasn't backed down from the claim.

“(The president) would like nothing more than to have complete liberal control of Congress for his last two years in office,” said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.

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