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Archive for Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama bites back at GOP criticism

February 10, 2009

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— So much for bipartisanship.

Day after day of Republican sniping at President Barack Obama and the massive economic recovery bill he wants Congress to pass quickly appeared to get the best of the leader who pledged to govern across party lines and mend old, bitter partisan divisions. In an hourlong prime-time news conference Monday, Obama shot back repeatedly with biting, sarcastic asides about GOP lawmakers who say the bill is too big, loaded with pork-barrel spending and won’t create jobs.

“It’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they’ve presided over a doubling of the national debt,” the president said. “I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.”

He added: “You get a feeling that maybe we’re playing politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the American people.”

With 11 million Americans out of work, Obama turned the first formal news conference of his three-week-old presidency into a determined defense of his emergency plan.

He said the recession has left the nation so weak that only the federal government can “jolt our economy back to life.” And he declared that failure to act swiftly and boldly “could turn a crisis into a catastrophe.”

“The party now is over,” he said.

Speedy passage of legislation to pump federal money into the crippled economy, once seemingly assured with bipartisan support, has become a much heavier lift and a major test for Obama’s administration.

“The plan is not perfect,” the president said. “No plan is. I can’t tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans.”

Obama said the country could well be in better shape by next year, as measured by increased hiring, lending, home values and other factors. “If we get things right, then, starting next year, we can start seeing significant improvement,” Obama said.

On the day that an $838 billion version of the stimulus legislation cleared a crucial test vote in the Senate, Obama warned darkly of what he said would be the consequences of inaction, addressing the nation from the East Room of the White House.

“This is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill recession,” he said. Obama said the United States could tumble into the kind of economic pain that Japan endured in the 1990s — the “lost decade” when that nation showed no economic growth.

He hit repeatedly at the themes he has emphasized in recent weeks, including at a town hall meeting earlier in the day in recession-battered Elkhart, Ind., where layoffs in its mainstay recreational vehicle industry has sent unemployment above 15 percent.

It’s a time-honored presidential strategy: talking to voters to get lawmakers to listen.

Originally, aides had insisted that Obama’s time would be better spent remaining in Washington to shepherd the stimulus bill. But as difficulties with the legislation grew, aides scheduled the Monday trip and news conference, as well as other travel to hard-luck communities. Obama is traveling today to Fort Myers, Fla., and on Thursday to Peoria, Ill.

He seemed cool and unruffled as he fielded 13 questions before a nationwide audience of millions. He ducked several questions, for example refusing to say if his administration would alter the Bush administration’s policy of refusing to allow photographs of flag-draped coffins of America’s war dead.

He also refused to say how long U.S. troops would be in Afghanistan after his planned troop buildup there. And he refused to reveal details of new rules governing the bailout of financial firms, set to be announced today by his Treasury secretary.

Obama defended his efforts at bipartisanship, despite the precious few concrete results so far. Not a single House Republican voted for the legislation last month, and only three GOP senators supported it on Monday. Obama noted he had put Republican tax cuts into the plan and kept them there, negotiated with GOP lawmakers individually and as a group, and even put three Republicans in his Cabinet.

“All those were not designed simply to get some short-term votes. They were designed to try to build up some trust over time,” he said. “And I think that, as I continue to make these overtures, over time, hopefully that will be reciprocated.”

But the talk of mending the partisan divide only went so far. Obama took Republicans for trying “to play the usual political games.”

The Gallup Organization released a poll Monday showing Obama’s approval rating holding steady at 67 percent, with Congress much less popular. Republicans in Congress drew only 31 percent approval, and Democrats had 48 percent. The poll also showed that 80 percent think it’s either important or critically important that a stimulus plan be approved.

The White House is calculating that such numbers, along with Obama’s daily drumbeat, will help him win the day as the stimulus legislation moves forward.

The Senate was expected to pass it today. Then it must be reconciled with a $820 billion House bill in negotiations expected to be difficult.

While Obama focused on the economy in the opening minutes of the news conference, he also faced questions on foreign policy.

He said his administration would look for opportunities “in the coming months” for direct talks with Iran, a nation accused by the United States of supporting terrorism and pursuing nuclear weapons.

Ticking off a myriad of concerns about Iran’s support for terrorist groups, its nuclear weapons program and its anti-Israel stance, Obama said Iran must send conciliatory signals as the U.S. is. But he also acknowledged distrust on both sides of the relationship. “There’s the possibility at least for a relationship of mutual respect and progress,” he said.

He also said that signing condolence letters to the families of fallen American soldiers made his new job real like no other task. “It reminds you of the responsibilities that you carry in this office and — and the consequences of the decisions that you make,” Obama said.

He also:

• Called Alex Rodriguez’s admission that he used steroids “depressing news” that tarnishes an entire era of major league baseball. The All-Star third baseman with the New York Yankees told ESPN on Monday he used banned substances while playing with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03.

• Suggested it was unlikely his administration would seek to prosecute anyone involved in harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects.

• Said Pakistan has not provided “the kind of concerted effort to root out those safe havens” used by al-Qaida in its lawless, mountainous border region near Afghanistan.

Comments

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

“I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.” So allow me to heap another trillion and a half on the heap. That's a 'responsible' solution.He added: “You get a feeling that maybe we’re playing politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the American people.”Oh. You mean playing politics like passing numerous bills to pay back the union heads that backed you in the election? How 'bout playing politics by legislating that stimulus funds can only hire union labor? Two weeks and I'm already getting sick.

oldvet 5 years, 10 months ago

A democrat in the white house, a democratic controlled congress, and he still can't get his bill passed... maybe others see his bill for what it really is... or actually, for what it isn't - a stimulus bill.

jayhawkjg 5 years, 10 months ago

Fox Business Network filed a freedom of information lawsuit for information that the stimulis bill contains laws regarding limiting health care to seniors, limiting the decisions a doctor can make regarding their patients care due to money. This was buried in a bill of 600 plus pages pushed by Obama and the Democrats to push it on the American people.This my fellow commerads sounds like we have been taken over by the commies. God save the United States of America

Flap Doodle 5 years, 10 months ago

Has hitting his head on the helicopter door affected Barry's brain?

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

59 posts all spewing the same spittle. Well done parrot. Mizzou grad?

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 10 months ago

The GOP controlled government doubled the national debt while in control the past eight years.Their borrow and spend policies and tax cuts have been a failure. Demonstrably so. Just look at the currect economic situation.Obama is correct to point this out when the GOP hard-liners change their tune to all of a sudden become fiscal conservatives.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 10 months ago

"The GOP controlled government doubled the national debt while in control the past eight years."The Democrats have been in control of Congress for the past two years.

scott3460 5 years, 10 months ago

"Fox Business Network filed a freedom of information lawsuit for information that the stimulis bill contains laws regarding limiting health care to seniors, limiting the decisions a doctor can make regarding their patients care due to money. This was buried in a bill of 600 plus pages pushed by Obama and the Democrats to push it on the American people."Really?!! One doesn't usually have to file a FOIA request to see pending legislation. What, by the way, is the objective of this alleged lawsuit? To discover the information you've so kindly reported in these lowly LJW forums? Thank goodness we have you and fox business news to keep them straight.

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

"Their borrow and spend policies and tax cuts have been a failure. Demonstrably so. Just look at the currect economic situation."One has little to nothing to do with the other. The current situation is a result of the domino effect that started with politicians sticking their fingers into the free market with the community redevelopment act, which led to bad loans, which led to greed from lenders and builders, which led to an invasion of millions of non-citizen laborers, which led to the over-build of America, which led to the bubble bursting, which led to the domino's of our economy tumbling over one after another. And sorry, Clint, I get 'parrot's' joke, it's just really, really old now. And 'Bush vetoed every single one of their bills', huh? And you're calling someone else ignorant? Ironic.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 10 months ago

Clint's gone totally around the bend with the veto comment.

james bush 5 years, 10 months ago

Obama's goal is to institutionalize ACORN as a legitimate organization worthy of being fully supported by your taxpayer dollars.

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

Adding to the discussion as insightfully as ever, beo. Excellent.

JohnBrown 5 years, 10 months ago

Bush dug a $5 trillion debt and where were these so called "fiscal conservatives" THEN? Bush also wrecked the economy and they still didn't complain. THEY lost the election and now we have to clean up what they did. Their time for whining is over. Buck up.BTW, if Reagan was such a great economist, why was it that he also doubled our national debt? TWO republican presidents, Reagan and Bush created over $7 Trillion of our $11 trillion debt. Nice goi'n guys. Democrats may be called "tax and spenders", but republicans are "spend and spend some more".Come up with some IDEAS, not just more nay-saying.Buck up.

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

So you match 'mindless' with 'mindless'? How 'bout trying to make an actual point once?

beatrice 5 years, 10 months ago

So, jaywalker previously wrote that he was going to vote for Obama despite his constant waving of the McCain flag running up to the election, but now claims that he is sick of Obama already. I mean, gosh darn it, it has been three weeks -- why isn't everything better by now! What a laugh. The conservatives who backed the previous administration broke the economy. Apparently that is how they like it, seeing as how they don't want to do anything to try and fix it. Well, it is time to leave them in the dust. The bill has passed the Senate and the stimulus package will hopefully provide a real jumpstart to the economy.

JohnBrown 5 years, 10 months ago

The republicans put Americans in harms way; now they don't want to help out. Why? because if the stimulus plan does work they won't get the credit on 2010. Gee, I thought you guys wanted to put "Country First". It's really "Party first", as I thought. Maybe your party is over.Buck up.

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

be-a-numnuts: "jaywalker previously wrote that he was going to vote for Obama despite his constant waving of the McCain flag running up to the election, but now claims that he is sick of Obama already."Well, beo, those are 'points', erroneous and ignorant, but at least you put something out there as opposed to your usual nothingness. I did not say I was sick of Obama, my inference was to being sick of the same ol' politics instead of the change BO campaigned on. I'm sorry you can't read and comprehend."The conservatives who backed the previous administration broke the economy. "That's just dumb, intellectually void, pick-your-derision. The economy is in shambles for exactly the reason I posted at 11:09. And anybody trying to place blame on either single party is a moron, pure and simple. This was a group effort, or lack thereof."and the stimulus package will hopefully provide a real jumpstart to the economy."And you wonder why conservatives ridicule people like yourself. A 'jumpstart'? Are you freakin' kiddin' me? At best- BEST- there won't be a single job created for 6 months, and since we're talking about the federal govt. here I certainly wouldn't hold my breath for that time table. And not to delve into too much of the minutae that is the corpulus bill, but how do you fantasize that 75 million for smoking cessation, 150 million for wildfire studies, 4 billion for ACORN, etc. etc. etc. is gonna 'jumpstart' the economy? So many people crying that the Republicans were irresponsible and caused record debt.......so your argument is they're 'anti-American' if they don't back adding another trillion and a half to it? The majority of which has nothing to do with helping the economy and everything to do with Dems sticking their tongues out and sayin' 'Nananananana! We won! Here's our pet projects.....shove it!' 'You guys doubled the debt....now it's OUR turn!'?????Any guesses as to what this will do to the dollar? We're printing money that has no value, none, it doesn't exist right now. It's paper. That's why there are those that propose tax cuts to 'stimulate' the economy. Less money out of paychecks means more to spend and you don't add on to our future debt burden. Noone's perfect when it comes to working with the economy. But Biden was backwards on his prediction. There's a 30% chance this thing'll work. You want a thirty percenter at the free throw line with the game on the line?

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

You beat me to it with anxiousidiot, Nancy boy.

beawolf 5 years, 10 months ago

Jaywalker,You seem to possess a knowledge about macro-economics that supersedes some of the most notable economic minds in the country. Please share with us your plans for economic recovery and growth and perhaps inform us of the credentials that have made you such an astute purveyor of economic wisdom. I may have missed some of your illuminating articles in the "American Economic Review", " The Journal of Economic Theory" or "The Oxford Review of Economic Policy". All of which seem to espouse a different viewpoint

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

"All of which seem to espouse a different viewpoint"To what? Do they all say the 'conservatives broke the economy'? Do they all say a stimulus package full of hundreds of billions of dollars earmarked for programs that cannot stimulate the economy is failproof?I'm not sayin' I'm an economic guru in any sense. Problem is that when it comes to the free market economy, noone is. If any of these economists are stating they're certain this corpulent bill is our savior I'm bettin' their last name is Madoff.And last I checked it wasn't my job to come up with a plan for vast 'economic recovery'. My job is to keep my company afloat and keep my men employed. And I can guarantee that job will never include borrowing truckloads of money with no collateral to spread around to things that have no hope of saving my company. My credentials are starting two businesses from scratch without a single dollar from a loan and keeping them afloat when the bottom has crashed from underneath both. I saw the current catastrophe coming three years ago and built my ark. How you doin'?

JHOK32 5 years, 10 months ago

Lets recap: W invaded a country that had nothing to do with 911 (but had everything to do with getting oil) pricetag: $1 Trillion dollars (not to mention 4000 kids' lives & hundreds with no arms & legs).....but don't let that bother Bush, he gets to retire to his $2 Million dollar house in Dallas (with all his limbs attached). Point 2: Bush doubled the national debt in 8 years. Point 3: Bush & his administration allows wall street to lend out Billions of dollars to homebuyers who couldn't afford the payments, result = the biggest economic catastrophy since the Great Depression. Point 4: Bush then gets on National TV & begs the taxpayers to bail out his greedy Republican buddy jerks. Point 5: After Bush gets his bailout bucks, he turns right around & gives $18 Billion dollars more to the same jerks that just bankrupted the entire country! Point 6: W Bush has been the biggest socialist President in the history of our country.....he admitted himself on TV that "he had to abandon his free market ideals in order to save our economy" (he meant "his" economy). Point 7: Obama now has the biggest financial mess since FDR to clean up. Point 8: I say lets let the middle class & lower class have a few bucks for a change. How about we buy everyone a new private $50 Million dollar Lear jet like Bush's buddies get to fly in?

Godot 5 years, 10 months ago

I pray that Obama and his supplicants come to the realization that George Bush's mistakes and misjudgments do not give Obama the right to make even more mistakes.It is not an excuse to say, "BushCo did blah,blah,blah," therefore Obama has not only the right, but the obligation to meet his blah,blah,blah, and raise him howl, howl, howl.Some day Obama will wake up and realize he is the President of the entire United States, not just the Leader of the Leftwing Democrats of the United States........I hope.

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

"(but had everything to do with getting oil)"Really? Where's the oil then? Seriously, when do we start importing it all?"Bush & his administration allows wall street to lend out Billions of dollars to homebuyers who couldn't afford the payments, "That's embarassing for you, JHOK. And sad. In the future you should stick to subjects you actually know something about. You won't sound like such a fool that way.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 10 months ago

I would suggest that President Clouseau bite something else.....

beawolf 5 years, 10 months ago

Jayhaker,Kudos for your accomplishments. I mean that sincerely. If you saw this coming 3 years ago, then you must understand that the economic policies of the last 8 years were a total failure. No one, including Obama, is saying that the current stimulus package is fail proof. Nor is it a sustainable economic endeavor. But you especially, should realize that jobs need to be created and consumers need confidence to start spending again. I'm not going to pretend I know the answers, and I was downright disheartened when the package first came out of the HoR, but I believe Obama is seeking the best council and not only deserves the chance, but is mandated to do something.I'm not disputing your right to your opinion, but it seems more like an angry tirade (perhaps justified) than a meaningful discussion. You need to justify your arguments, rather than make blanket statements (right or wrong) that have no substance.

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

beawolf,Appreciate the sentiment. But the reason I saw this coming (I'm involved in construction) was more about experience and common sense than a deep understanding of the economic policies of the past 8 years. I talked with friends within and outside the industry three years about my fears, and laid out for them exactly the 'domino effect' I described yesterday at 11:09. My predictions were primarily about the housing industy though, I can't say that I saw this complete devastation coming. I thought it would be far-reaching, but I didn't have this scope.I, too, support BO and hope he makes wise choices. I feel he fumbled this opportunity from the onset by handing it to Pelosi and Co. and now we have this ...thing. And while you may feel he is mandated to do something, it's my sincere belief that government should refrain at all costs from trying to control our economy. Bailing out Wall Street was iffy but probably necessary. That's the heart of our financial well-being. This 'bailout' seems nebulous and unfocused. I'm just not a fan. But besides my prediction that this thing has a one in three chance of succeeding rather than vice versa, I don't understand which of my arguments you find to be 'blanket statements', lack substance, or are unjustified.

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