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After 'Shellacking' of Democrats, What Now for Obama and the Republicans?

President Obama with aides and cabinet members in the White House Cabinet Room Thursday

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

A "shellacking" is an especially bad defeat. And that was how President Obama described the elections on Tuesday. His Democratic Party lost control of the House of Representatives. The Democrats retook the House four years ago from the Republican Party.

Now the Republicans will have a solid majority. And they have narrowed the Democrats' majority in the Senate.

REPORTER: "What does it feel like?"

BARACK OBAMA: "It feels bad."

Mr. Obama told reporters the message he heard was that voters want more cooperation in Washington.

BARACK OBAMA: "What they were expressing great frustration about is the fact that we haven't made enough progress on the economy."

But that was not how it sounded to Representative John Boehner. The Republican from Ohio is likely to become the next House speaker. He says voters want the president to change direction.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio after his party's victory in the midterm elections
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio after his party's victory in the midterm elections

JOHN BOEHNER: "It is pretty clear the American people want us to do something about cutting spending here in Washington. And helping to create an environment where we get jobs back in our country."

The new Congress opens in January. President Obama is inviting leaders of both parties to a meeting at the White House on November eighteenth.

MITCH MCCONNELL: "If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin move in our direction."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell recently said his party's top political goal is to make sure Mr. Obama is a one-term president. In a speech on Thursday, the senator noted that he had been criticized for his comments.

But he said if the main legislative goals of the Republicans are to replace the health care law …

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky spoke at the Heritage Foundation in Washington
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky spoke at the Heritage Foundation in Washington

MITCH McCONNELL: " … to end the bailouts, cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all of those things is to put someone in the White House who will not veto any of those things."

President Obama says he is willing to try any good ideas the Republicans have for job growth. But he says he is not open to major changes in the health care law.

BARACK OBAMA: "I think we'd be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years re-litigate arguments that we had over the last two years."

John Fortier studies politics for the American Enterprise Institute. He says opposition parties have worked together in the past.

JOHN FORTIER: "Divided government -- Congress of one party or part of the Congress, and a president of the other -- is sometimes very productive."

Mr. Fortier says it might be harder this time, in part because attention now turns to the twenty twelve presidential campaign. He says Republican candidates will try to appeal to a voting population that has become more conservative.

Four in ten Americans who voted this week said they considered themselves Tea Party supporters.

The Tea Party movement heavily supported Republican candidates who shared its conservative positions. The movement wants limited government, less federal spending and lower taxes.

But the Tea Party is made up of many different groups. So the exact number of winning candidates who share its values is unclear. Media reports differed widely, from about thirty candidates nationally to more than one hundred.

On Friday, the Labor Department said the economy gained more than two times as many jobs in October as most economists expected. It was the best report since May. Still, the unemployment rate stayed at nine and six-tenths percent for the third month.

President Obama called the numbers encouraging but not good enough. He spoke before leaving for India on the start of his trip to Asia.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.


Contributing: Laurel Bowman, Elizabeth Lee, Al Pessin, Carolyn Presutti and Cindy Saine