President Obama addressed reporters from the Whitehouse press room last night in what has to be the clearest language he has yet employed to express his position on the debt ceiling negotiations.
Clearly exasperated, Obama let in to the politically motivated obstructionist Republicans as he has never before. Although he dislikes laying blame, and states so again in the video, he clearly laid the issue at the feet of the GOP and their enablers.
Speaking up for the 'working stiffs' and 'ordinary folks', he confronted those causing the issue for "..being more worried about what some funder says, some talk radio show host says or some columnist says. Or what pledge we signed, back when we were trying to run or worried about having a primary fight."
He really nailed it. Video and transcript below the fold.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think what you should say -- well, here’s what I’d say: I remain confident that we will get an extension of the debt limit and we will not default. I am confident of that.His frustration was on display as he gave the status of the failed negotiations between himself and the 'Conservative' leadership, members and media personalities.
I am less confident at this point that people are willing to step up to the plate and actually deal with the underlying problem of debt and deficits. That requires tough choices. That’s what we were sent here to do.
I mean, the debt ceiling, that’s a formality. Historically, this has not even been an issue. It’s an unpleasant vote but it’s been a routine vote that Congress does periodically. It was raised 18 times when Ronald Reagan was President. Ronald Reagan said default is not an option, that it would be hugely damaging to the prestige of the United States and we shouldn’t even consider it. So that’s the easy part. We should have done that six months ago.
The hard part is actually dealing with the underlying debt and deficits, and doing it in a way that’s fair. That’s all the American people are looking for -- some fairness. I can’t tell you how many letters and emails I get, including from Republican voters, who say, look, we know that neither party is blameless when it comes to how this deft and deficit developed -- there’s been a lot of blame to spread around -- but we sure hope you don’t just balance the budget on the backs of seniors. We sure hope that we’re not slashing our commitment to make sure kids can go to college. We sure hope that we’re not suddenly throwing a bunch of poor kids off the Medicaid rolls so they can’t get basic preventative services that keep them out of the emergency room. That’s all they’re looking for, is some fairness.
Now, what you’re going to hear, I suspect, is, well, if you -- if the Senate is prepared to pass the cap, cut and balance bill, the Republican plan, then somehow we can solve this problem -- that’s serious debt reduction. It turns out, actually, that the plan that Speaker Boehner and I were talking about was comparable in terms of deficit reduction. The difference was that we didn’t put all the burden on the people who are least able to protect themselves, who don’t have lobbyists in this town, who don’t have lawyers working on the tax code for them -- working stiffs out there, ordinary folks who are struggling every day. And they know they’re getting a raw deal, and they’re mad at everybody about it. They’re mad at Democrats and they’re mad at Republicans, because they know somehow, no matter how hard they work, they don’t seem to be able to keep up. And what they’re looking for is somebody who’s willing to look out for them. That’s all they’re looking for.
And for us not to be keeping those folks in mind every single day when we’re up here, for us to be more worried about what some funder says, or some talk radio show host says, or what some columnist says, or what pledge we signed back when we were trying to run, or worrying about having a primary fight -- for us to be thinking in those terms instead of thinking about those folks is inexcusable.
I mean, the American people are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done.
So when Norah asked or somebody else asked why was I willing to go along with a deal that wasn’t optimal from my perspective, it was because even if I didn’t think the deal was perfect, at least it would show that this place is serious, that we’re willing to take on our responsibilities even when it’s tough, that we’re willing to step up even when the folks who helped get us elected may disagree.
And at some point, I think if you want to be a leader, then you got to lead.
Although he readily applied blame for the current state of the national debt on members of both major parties, he stressed that the current issue was the fault of republicans in the House and Senate, who care more about political posturing than governing, more about sending messages to their base than to the world's markets, and more about the rich and powerful than the average American.
FULL VIDEO OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE:
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE:
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