As President Barack Obama works to build relationships with lawmakers from both parties, one of the big national Republican players is talking about the current political gridlock.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R-1st District) visited our area this weekend for the Wisconsin Republican Convention. Newsline 9's Daniel Woodruff sat down with the former VP candidate to talk about this major political divide and what can ultimately bridge it.
"We have divided government," said Ryan. "We're going to try and figure out how to make this divided government work."
That's a tough task, considering Congress hasn't done much at all on a bipartisan basis. But Ryan said lawmakers are working together on several issues.
"Job creation with tax reform, energy policy to lower gas prices, a budget agreement to cut spending and reduce the deficit," said Ryan.
And, an issue that's remain unaddressed for years.
"Immigration reform is another area where you've got Republicans and Democrats talking together to try and get something done because that's a broken system that needs to be fixed as well," said Ryan.
Can Republicans and Democrats really come together on this issue?
"I think so," said Ryan. "That is what's happening in immigration reform."
But what led to this deep, partisan divide? Do Republicans and Democrats not like the same sports teams or something?
"It's not as bad as the Packers versus the Bears," joked Ryan.
In all seriousness, though, Ryan has one theory.
"When the president had his first term in his first two years, his party controlled everything. And they passed through a very liberal agenda," said Ryan. "Then House Republicans took the majority, and President Obama wasn't interested in bipartisan agreements. He focused on the election."
With blame assigned, Ryan then expressed careful optimism for future negotiations.
"Now we're trying to decide, is the president interested in more trying to play politics to try and get control of Congress again in 2014 so that the last two years can look like the first two years of his administration? Or is he willing to come to the center, to come away from the left and try and work with us on some of these issues?"
President Obama, meanwhile, is trying to build relationships with the other side. He took a bipartisan group of senators golfing in Washington on Monday. But there's still a wide gulf between the president and Republicans. On Sunday, at a commencement speech at Ohio State University, the president expressed frustration about his political opponents.
"Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems," Obama said. "Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They'll warn that tyranny's always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices."
At the conclusion of our interview, Newsline 9 asked Rep. Ryan about one of the biggest political points of chatter in our state—his plans for the 2016 presidential election.
"I've decided not to decide about this," said Ryan. "The reason is, is I'm the chairman of the budget committee. I've been elected to represent Wisconsin in Congress. We've got a lot of issues to deal with. Issues I'm in the middle of right now. I want to focus on doing my job for Wisconsin."
But it takes a lot of time to organize a presidential race, Newsline 9's Daniel Woodruff pointed out.
"It does take time, but it doesn't take that much time," responded Ryan. "I want to focus on getting my job done, getting things done. Then after that I'll worry about these other things, and I've got plenty of time to make that decision."
Gov. Scott Walker has also been mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate.