Based on the election results, the voters have sent the White House a clear message rein in spending, keep taxes down, fix healthcare and above all create jobs.
But the vote for the Republicans is not an endorsement of the Tea Party or their radical solutions that would privatize Social Security and roll back letting kids stay on healthcare, or for severe cuts in vital programs like Medicare and Social Security. The voters will be endorsing eliminating the departments of education and energy no time soon.
The Republicans are talking like they won all three branches of government. When the dust clears it is likely they will control the House, but not the Senate. And that means that neither party on its own will be able to pass a bill. And many Democrats outside the House held on or won with the Democrats holding West Virginia Senate and Massachusetts statehouse, among others.
Facing a similar message from the voters, President Clinton acted decisively.
He balanced the budget but he did it after fighting a government shutdown and only by preserving Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment. The negotiations were tough, broke down often, but in the end cleared the way for an economic revival.
Now, the voters want healthcare expanded but only if costs are controlled, taxes cuts kept but only until jobs are created, and are looking for an economic strategy that is more than stimulus or spending. They have rejected the extremes of George Bush and are calling on Obama to move to the center.
The president now faces a real choice continue his path in the face of Republican rejection and gridlock or seek to make real compromise on key domestic tax and spend issues.