As they search for common ground with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on subjects like tax reform and immigration, GOP lawmakers are troubled by what they regard as the president's increasingly combative approach in dealing with Capitol Hill.
On tax reform, Obama has been talking about cutting the U.S. corporate tax rate, the world’s highest, since 2011, as have many congressional Republicans.
But the Republicans say that instead of engaging in dialogue in an effort to find common ground, the president has taken unilateral, provocative steps such as threatening to halt the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants.
Lawmakers say privately that they are "baffled" by such behavior, according to Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who is likely to head the Budget Committee in the new Congress.
"All the things that people were seriously upset with the administration about [in the midterm elections], it seems the president is doubling down on them," Sessions told The Washington Post
Republican senators who have tried to work with the Obama White House express frustration with the president’s approach.
"We need to start seeing White House proposals" to discuss "rather than just listening to rhetoric about executive orders," said Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who last year persuaded some of his colleagues to attend informal meetings with Obama on taxes and the budget.
When asked about the chances for tax reform, Isakson said he "wouldn’t bet on it."
House Republicans say that they, too, are reluctant to go forward with tax reform absent evidence that Obama is prepared to work with them in good faith to achieve an agreement.
Leading Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan, who is expected to be elected to chair the House Ways and Means Committee, are said to be reluctant to press their fellow Republicans to vote to repeal popular tax breaks absent assurances that Obama is prepared to sign a bipartisan reform bill into law.
Similarly, Obama’s talk about unilaterally implementing tough new regulations on greenhouse gases has drawn furious reactions from incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Boehner, and added to GOP skepticism that Obama wants to negotiate in good faith.
Boehner described Obama’s deal with China on greenhouse gases
as "the latest example of the president’s crusade against affordable, reliable energy that is already hurting jobs."
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