By Ian Swanson - 10/07/10 12:03 AM EDT
President Obama warned Wednesday that his agenda will be stuck in gridlock for the next two years if Democrats lose control of the House.
“Unless we are able to maintain Democrats in the House and Senate, then we’re going to be stalled for two years or four years, and we’re going to start going backwards,” Obama said in remarks at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New Jersey, according to a pool report.
“Now when unemployment is still at 9.5, 9.6 percent that gives an enormous advantage to whoever is not in power because they can simply point at the status quo and regardless of causation say, ‘You know what? It’s the folks who are in power that are at fault,’” Obama said. “So that gives a natural momentum” to Republicans, he said.
Returning to a theme he has raised in appearances over the past week, Obama warned Democrats to not sit back and sulk, but to do “everything we can do to make sure our folks turn out” on Nov. 2.
The remarks about political gridlock if Republicans win back the House are also likely aimed at Democratic voters inclined to stay home on election day.
Obama was able to win approval of healthcare reform and Wall Street reform this year, but plans to move climate change legislation and immigration reform were set aside. If Republicans win control of the House, they are likely to be put on the deep freeze.
Polls suggest Democrats could lose control of the House to Republicans. A poll released Wednesday by The Hill and America’s Natural Gas Alliance found Republicans ahead of freshman Democratic House incumbents in 12 different battleground districts.
Obama also said Democrats’ tendency to internally debate every issue can be “a weakness.
Obama said a strength of his party is that it does not march in lockstep, but that internal fights can also cost the party, particularly when fights play out to the public weeks before an election.
“One of the strengths of Democrats is that we don’t march lockstep. We like to have internal arguments and we’re very self-critical,” Obama said
“We tend to look at the glass as half empty. And that makes us better, he said. “But that’s also a weakness, particularly four weeks before an election.”
Obama made the remarks at a fundraiser attended by 50 people who paid up to $30,400 a plate to attend. The DNC expects to raise $1 million from the event.
Democrats have bickered for much of the past two years on policy and political strategy. They fought over the specifics of healthcare reform, and argued over whether to move forward with climate change and immigration legislation.
The White House has criticized liberals for expecting too much from the president, while centrist Democrats have argued their leaders have jeopardized the party’s political fortune.
Most recently, Democrats were deeply divided over how to handle tax rates set to expire at the end of the year. Some wanted to extend all of the rates, while the president and congressional leaders wanted to allow rates to rise on wealthier taxpayers.