The federal bill renewing tax cuts, cutting payroll taxes and extending unemployment benefits is a sign President Barack Obama will move toward center as Republicans take over the House of Representatives, said U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township).

The federal bill renewing tax cuts, cutting payroll taxes and extending unemployment benefits is a sign President Barack Obama will move toward center as Republicans take over the House of Representatives, said U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township).

Speaking to the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 13, Tiberi said November's midterm election was "historic," with the biggest Congressional swing from one party to the other since the 1940s and the elections of more new Republicans since the 1930s.

"Americans spoke loudly and clearly about the direction of the country," Tiberi said.

The unknown, he said, is how the president will proceed with a Republican House looking to compromise and a leftist base looking for the president to hold firm on his liberal policies.

"The president is trying to figure out what to do," Tiberi said.

It's a positive sign, he said, that Obama embraced the recent tax deal as a way to get something done with a legislature that will soon be split, with a Republican majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate.

Tiberi did criticize the federal government for not acting on the tax deal sooner, however, because, he said, it's been known for some time that failing to act on renewing the tax cuts would mean an increase in taxes as of Jan. 1.

"We've known the rates were going to go up as of Jan. 1. Unfortunately, we've punted until now," Tiberi said.

Another positive sign that the president will move toward center, Tiberi told chamber members, is the recent trade talks with South Korea. After harshly criticizing trade deals during his 2008 campaign, Obama is now saying he will work to encourage exports, Tiberi said.

"I think that's a good sign the president is not going to move toward the left, that he is going to move toward the center," Tiberi said.

Trade deals like the recent one with South Korea are key because they allow U.S. businesses to sell their goods in foreign countries, Tiberi said. The United States has a free market system allowing imports from other countries, but without trade deals, he said, those countries will not allow imports from the United States.

As the government continues to work to improve the economy, working to support U.S. exports to other countries will be key, Tiberi said.

As Republicans take over the House next year, another debate that's on the horizon will be simplifying the tax code to benefit both individuals and businesses, encouraging businesses to operate in the United States, Tiberi said.

"This is out of control, and we've got to simplify the tax code. We've got to make it make more sense," Tiberi said. "My father can't do his own taxes, and he's not a wealthy man."

In the State of the Union address next year, Tiberi said Americans can anticipate hearing the president talk about simplifying the tax code, but, he said, it remains to be seen what exactly that will mean.

Another debate that's will resurface next year is the controversial health care bill that was signed into law earlier this year, Tiberi said.

"The debate has only just begun," he said. "You're going to see us try to repeal it in the House."

One thing is certain in federal politics, Tiberi said: There is going to be a lot of contention over the next two years with split control of the House and Senate, making it difficult for the president to decide where his policies should fall.

"Over the next two years, the president's going to continue to be tugged by his left flank. It's not going to be easy for him," Tiberi said. "It's going to be a difficult two years."