Fresh off of Tuesday's midterm election triumph, the top two Republicans in Congress vowed to make Washington work again in an op-ed published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.
But one of the first items on their agenda - repealing Obamacare - seems better engineered to produce gridlock than cooperation.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, the likely Senate majority leader in the next Congress, said their first priority would be to grow the economy. Among other things, they wrote, that goal "means renewing our commitment to repeal Obamacare, which is hurting the job market along with Americans' health care."
The leaders described the president's health care reform program as a "hopelessly flawed law that Americans never supported." They vowed to eliminate the law's definition of a 30-hour workweek as full time, which they labeled a "destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay."
The law stipulates that any employer with more than 50 full-time employees, defined as any employee who works over 30 hours per week, must provide health coverage for those employees. Democrats say the provision is designed to push employers to do right by their employees and offer health coverage, but Republicans say it's caused employers to cut employees' hours to stay under the threshold.
Undoing President Obama's signature domestic achievement continues to be a high priority among conservatives, and that clamor is likely to increase with Republicans poised to control both chambers of Congress. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said on Tuesday, for example, that the new Republican Senate majority must "do everything humanly possible to repeal Obamacare," clearly nudging his party's leadership to take up the fight.
But the president said again Wednesday, as he has countless times before, that repealing the law is a non-starter.
"On health care, there are certainly some lines I'm going to draw," he said. "Repeal of the law, I won't sign. Efforts that would take away health care from the 10 million people who now have it and the millions more who are eligible to get it, we're not going to support. In some cases, there may be recommendations that Republicans have for changes that would undermine the structure of the law, and you know, I'll be very honest with them about that and say, 'Look, the law doesn't work if you pull out that piece or that piece.'"
Apart from their vow on Obamacare, McConnell and Boehner also said they'd advance several proposals on energy, including a bill to fast-track construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and policies to "protect and expand America's emerging energy boom."
The leaders also placed tax reform, education reform, and deficit reduction on their to-do list.