Monday, February 23, 2009

President Obama at the White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit

Transcribed live from CNN -

Along with having a good sense of humor, President Obama hit another home run.

When accepting the suggestion that he continue to reach out to the minority and comparing it to the parable of sowing seeds and that his seeds would eventually find fertile soil, the President said, "I will certainly do that because I'm just a glutton for punishment... I'm going to keep talking to Eric Cantor. Someday sooner or later, he's going to say, 'Boy, Obama had a good idea.' It's gonna happen."

And then he closed with this:

"One last point I want to make, just because I think, from the press perspective, I was reading some of the newspapers today and there was a sense that maybe we were doing a 'pivot' because we had just moved forward on the recovery package and now we're talking about fiscal responsibility, how do those two things match up?

I just want to be very clear about this and I've said it to the Governors this morning and I've said it to my staff in the past. We chose to move forward on a recovery package because there was a strong sense among the vast majority of economists that if we did not try to fill a $1 trillion a year hole in demand, because of the drastic pulling back of businesses and consumers, that the recession would get worse, unemployment would increase and as a consequence, tax revenues would go down and the long term deficit and debt projections would be even higher.

That was the basis for the decision. It was not ideologically driven. I have no interest in making government bigger for the sake of it. I've got more than enough on my plate, as Lindsey [Graham] knows, between Afghanistan and Iraq, and issues of terrorism, that if the private sector was just humming along and we could just make government more efficient and not have to worry about this financial crisis, I would love that. But that's not the circumstance we find ourselves in, so I made the best judgement about the need to for us to move forward on a recovery package.

There were some differences, significant differences between the parties about this. I would suggest that if you look at the differences, they amounted to maybe 10, maybe 15 percent of the total package. There wasn't a lot of argument about counter cyclical payments to states to make sure that people had extended unemployment insurance or Food Stamps. There wasn't a lot of disagreement about some of the infrastructure that needs to be repaired. There wasn't a lot of disagreement on the tax cut front. Fifteen, twenty percent of it there was some disagreements about.

But the reason I make this point is that if we're going to be successful moving forward, it's important for us to distinguish between legitimate policy differences and our politics. And the reason there is no contradiction from my perspective in doing the recovery package first but now focusing on the medium and long term is because our hope is that this economy starts recovering - we will have taken a hit in terms of our debt and our deficit, but as Bob Greenstein said, the recovery package will account for about one tenth of one percent of our long term debt, the real problems are the structural deficit and the structural debt we've been accumulating and all of us are complicit in.

So we've gotta get that taken care of. We would have had to get it taken care of whether or not there was a recession. This just underscores the urgency of it and I'm hopeful that we move forward in that spirit in the days and weeks and months to come."

The quote of the day when someone harped that the Democrats in the House were not inclusive of the Republicans in the recovery bill process.

"On the one hand, the majority has to be inclusive. On the other hand, minority needs to be constructive... What you should see, I think, is the majority saying 'What are your ideas?' The minority has got to then come up with those ideas and not just want to blow the thing up."

1 comment:

Annette said...

I loved that Cantor hit.. out of the

Grand Slam..

He scored several points I thought. Subtle but good ones. It is so nice to have a smart president.