Obama: Now it's all about 2014

Aware that the GOP won't deal, a report says the president's determined to take control of the House in 2014

Published March 3, 2013 2:40AM (EST)

President Obama       (AP/Ed Andrieski)
President Obama (AP/Ed Andrieski)

President Obama has apparently given up on the idea that the GOP majority in the House will work with him, Instead, he will actively work to elect a Democratic majority in 2014, according to a story in Sunday's Washington Post.

The Post reports that almost immediately after his re-election, Obama began working behind the scenes to win back the lower chamber and attempt to secure his legacy. The plan, the paper suggests, is to nationalize the 2014 race around issues which have popular public appeal -- gun control, immigration reform, the minimum wage, climate change and others -- but little chance of moving through the House.

Obama used his State of the Union to begin to build support for his agenda, and has continued in campaign mode over recent weeks to illustrate the effects of the sequester cuts on the economy. The Post says he'll continue to voice his frustration that popular legislation can't move through the House.

"This approach marks a significant shift in the way Obama has worked with a divided Congress," the Post claims. "He has compromised and badgered, but rarely — and never so early — campaigned to change its composition."

Democrats would need to turn 17 House seats blue to take control. History stands against them: it is exceptionally rare for an incumbent president's party to gain seats in the House in the mid-term election of a second term. They'd also have to overcome an aggressively gerrymandered Congress; Democratic congressional candidates won some 550,000 more votes than Republican candidates in 2012, and that still was not enough to win a majority of seats.

According to the Post, the president has also pledged to raise money for Democratic congressional campaigns and to use his political operation on their behalf. He has already committed to four times as many Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraisers in 2013 than he did in 2009, the Post reports, when some Democrats complained that the president did not do enough to ensure his party kept control of the House.

“The president understands that to get anything done, he needs a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives,” Rep. Steve Israel, the New York congressman who chairs the DCCC, told the paper. “To have a legacy in 2016, he will need a House majority in 2014, and that work has to start now.

“If 2012 was a referendum on President Obama, then 2014 will be a referendum on the tea party Congress,” Israel said. “And the president and House Democrats are joined at the hip on this.”

By David Daley

David Daley, former editor-in-chief of Salon, is the author of the national bestseller “Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count” and “Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy.”

MORE FROM David Daley

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Congress John Boehner Washington Post