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Obama faces domestic battle

world Updated: Nov 16, 2010 00:09 IST
Yashwant Raj

That little jig in Mumbai will soon recede to the furthest part of his mind, as President Barack Obama settles down to battle a resurgent Republican party determined to fight him every inch of the way to 2012 and deny him a second term.

Obama returned to the US on Sunday after a 10-day swing through Asia starting within a few days of a crushing defeat at the congressional elections he famously described as a “shellacking”.

He gets back to work immediately.

The big one is a meeting at the White House on Thursday when the President meets key Republican leaders — presumptive speaker John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitchell McConnell — and some from his own party.

Some of the most divisive issues on the table will be extension of Bush-era tax cuts, Obama’s health care reforms, deficits and earmarks. The economy also, which will be top of the charts for Obama.

Most people expect the two remaining two years of his term to be rough for Obama.

But the word most commonly used in Washington to describe what lies ahead is “gridlock”. On Sunday, President Obama told reporters, “…I am very confident that the American people were not issuing a mandate for gridlock.” He was referring to the elections results.

But neither the president nor his advisors believe the Republicans will be easy.

David Axelrod, a senior political advisor to the president, indicated in a television interview on Sunday Obama might be ready to compromise.

The president is ready to extend, and in fact make permanent, tax cuts for the middle class.

The other freequently heard word is “compromise”.

“There are going to be some disagreements,” the president told reporters on Sunday, adding, “There may be some need for compromise.”

And that may well be the cornerstone of Obama’s presidency here on.