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Can Democrats, Republicans find common ground after election?

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 07 2012 02:38:08 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 07 2012 04:26:09 PM CST

If you noticed your TV is a little quieter today, it could be because those nasty campaign ads are finally over.

If you noticed your TV is a little quieter today, it could be because those nasty campaign ads are finally over. 

But will the election finally mean an end to partisan gridlock? Pennsylvania's two senators are promising cooperation, but the math may be against them.

Accepting his election win Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama vowed to put politics aside and work with Republicans.

"We remain more than a collection of red states and blue states," he said to a cheering crowd in Chicago.  "We are, and will forever will be, the United States of America."

But on Capitol Hill, the numbers suggest more gridlock may be ahead.  Democrats still narrowly control the Senate, while Republicans still have a firm grip on the U.S. House.  It's virtually the same makeup that's led to years of infighting in Washington.

So is bi-partisanship just a pipe dream?

"Well, it is possible," said U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who hails from the Lehigh Valley.

Toomey said he and newly re-elected Democrat Bob Casey have worked together on several issues, including developing so-called "clean coal" and Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale gas deposits.

"So far, in Pennsylvania, we've taken a very sensible approach, for the most part," said Toomey.

For his part, Casey is also making a pitch for cooperation.

"I know we can. I know we must," he said in a victory speech Tuesday night.

Casey said he wants to work with Republicans to lower corporate taxes and pass a 10 percent tax credit for businesses that hire new workers.  He had also opposed Obama on certain trade agreements he believes are bad for the Keystone State.

"Even as we're giving them a measure of peace of mind as we go forward, that we're focused on bringing Democrats and Republicans together to avoid this fiscal cliff that's coming," he said.

That so-called "fiscal cliff" is going to test all this bi-partisan talk.  If both sides can't agree on a way to reduce the deficit by January, a series of severe spending cuts and tax hikes will automatically kick-in.  Toomey was on the super-committee that formulated that plan to avoid a national credit default.

Compromise may already be coming.  Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Republicans are willing to consider higher taxes, but only under the right conditions.  One of those is reforming entitlement spending like Medicare and Social Security.  Boehner said lawmakers should work to find a short-term solution by the end of the year.