Political Musings February 14, 2014: Obama and Congress have a Washington snow day

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Obama and Congress have a Washington snow day

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As snow blanketed the Washington DC area on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 Congress and the White House came almost to a standstill, cancelling most events, work, a traditional snow day. Over 10 inches of snow fell in the capitol region…

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Political Musings February 11, 2014: Showdown averted House passes clean debt ceiling raise bill

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Showdown averted House passes clean debt ceiling raise bill

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The House of Representatives voted 221-201 on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 11, 2014 to raise the debt ceiling limit until March 2015 averting another showdown, without adding any conditions to the bill, which was passed predominantly with Democratic votes. Speaker…READ MORE

Political Musings October 22, 2013: Obama, GOP approval ratings plummet in new polls, result of shutdown fallout

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama, GOP approval ratings plummet in new polls, result of shutdown fallout

By Bonnie K. Goodman

 

Three new polls released on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 indicate that President Barack Obama, the House Republicans and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH have not escaped the American public’s blame as a result of the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 18, 2013: President Obama delivers post-shutdown speech blaming GOP, laying out agenda

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Obama delivers post-shutdown speech blaming GOP, laying out agenda (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama speaking from the White House’s state dining room on Thursday morning, Oct. 17, 2013 delivered his first remarks after signing the bill reopening the government from a 16-day partial shutdown and raised the debt…

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Full Text Obama Presidency October 17, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Reopening of the Government after Shutdown, Lays Out Year-End Agenda

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Reopening of the Government

Source: WH, 10-17-13

President Obama Speaks on Reopening the Government

President Obama Speaks on Reopening the Government

State Dining Room

11:00 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please have a seat.

Well, last night, I signed legislation to reopen our government and pay America’s bills.  Because Democrats and responsible Republicans came together, the first government shutdown in 17 years is now over.  The first default in more than 200 years will not happen.  These twin threats to our economy have now been lifted.  And I want to thank those Democrats and Republicans for getting together and ultimately getting this job done.

Now, there’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown.  But let’s be clear:  There are no winners here.  These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.  We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.

We know that families have gone without paychecks or services they depend on.  We know that potential homebuyers have gotten fewer mortgages, and small business loans have been put on hold.  We know that consumers have cut back on spending, and that half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months.  We know that just the threat of default — of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time — increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.

And, of course, we know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That’s not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington.  At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back.  And for what?

There was no economic rationale for all of this.  Over the past four years, our economy has been growing, our businesses have been creating jobs, and our deficits have been cut in half. We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the American economy — but nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.

And you don’t have to take my word for it.  The agency that put America’s credit rating on watch the other day explicitly cited all of this, saying that our economy “remains more dynamic and resilient” than other advanced economies, and that the only thing putting us at risk is — and I’m quoting here — “repeated brinksmanship.”  That’s what the credit rating agency said.  That wasn’t a political statement; that was an analysis of what’s hurting our economy by people whose job it is to analyze these things.

That also happens to be the view of our diplomats who’ve been hearing from their counterparts internationally.  Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we’re strong.  But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks.  It’s encouraged our enemies.  It’s emboldened our competitors.  And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.

Now, the good news is we’ll bounce back from this.  We always do.  America is the bedrock of the global economy for a reason.  We are the indispensable nation that the rest of the world looks to as the safest and most reliable place to invest — something that’s made it easier for generations of Americans to invest in their own futures.  We have earned that responsibility over more than two centuries because of the dynamism of our economy and our entrepreneurs, the productivity of our workers, but also because we keep our word and we meet our obligations.  That’s what full faith and credit means — you can count on us.
And today, I want our people and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.

But to all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change.  Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people — and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust.  Our system of self-government doesn’t function without it.  And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that’s grow this economy; create good jobs; strengthen the middle class; educate our kids; lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul.  That’s why we’re here.  That should be our focus.

Now, that won’t be easy.  We all know that we have divided government right now.  There’s a lot of noise out there, and the pressure from the extremes affect how a lot of members of Congress see the day-to-day work that’s supposed to be done here. And let’s face it, the American people don’t see every issue the same way.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t make progress.  And when we disagree, we don’t have to suggest that the other side doesn’t love this country or believe in free enterprise, or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year.  If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on, and get some stuff done.

Let me be specific about three places where I believe we can make progress right now.  First, in the coming days and weeks, we should sit down and pursue a balanced approach to a responsible budget, a budget that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further.

At the beginning of this year, that’s what both Democrats and Republicans committed to doing.  The Senate passed a budget; House passed a budget; they were supposed to come together and negotiate.  And had one side not decided to pursue a strategy of brinksmanship, each side could have gotten together and figured out, how do we shape a budget that provides certainty to businesses and people who rely on government, provides certainty to investors in our economy, and we’d be growing faster right now.

Now, the good news is the legislation I signed yesterday now requires Congress to do exactly that — what it could have been doing all along.

And we shouldn’t approach this process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise — just cutting for the sake of cutting.  The issue is not growth versus fiscal responsibility — we need both.  We need a budget that deals with the issues that most Americans are focused on:  creating more good jobs that pay better wages.

And remember, the deficit is getting smaller, not bigger.  It’s going down faster than it has in the last 50 years. The challenges we have right now are not short-term deficits; it’s the long-term obligations that we have around things like Medicare and Social Security.  We want to make sure those are there for future generations.

So the key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research.  And these things historically have not been partisan.  And this shouldn’t be as difficult as it’s been in past years because we already spend less than we did a few years ago.  Our deficits are half of what they were a few years ago.  The debt problems we have now are long term, and we can address them without shortchanging our kids, or shortchanging our grandkids, or weakening the security that current generations have earned from their hard work.

So that’s number one.  Number two, we should finish fixing the job of — let me say that again.  Number two, we should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system.

There’s already a broad coalition across America that’s behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform — from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement.  In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would make the biggest commitment to border security in our history; would modernize our legal immigration system; make sure everyone plays by the same rules, makes sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities.  That bill has already passed the Senate. And economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 percent larger two decades from now.  That’s $1.4 trillion in new economic growth.

The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do.  And it’s sitting there waiting for the House to pass it.  Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear them.  Let’s start the negotiations.  But let’s not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years.  This can and should get done by the end of this year.

Number three, we should pass a farm bill, one that American farmers and ranchers can depend on; one that protects vulnerable children and adults in times of need; one that gives rural communities opportunities to grow and the long-term certainty that they deserve.

Again, the Senate has already passed a solid bipartisan bill.  It’s got support from Democrats and Republicans.  It’s sitting in the House waiting for passage.  If House Republicans have ideas that they think would improve the farm bill, let’s see them.  Let’s negotiate.  What are we waiting for?  Let’s get this done.

So, passing a budget; immigration reform; farm bill.  Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now.  And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what’s good for the American people. And that’s just the big stuff.  There are all kinds of other things that we could be doing that don’t get as much attention.

I understand we will not suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed.  Democrats and Republicans are far apart on a lot of issues.  And I recognize there are folks on the other side who think that my policies are misguided — that’s putting it mildly.  That’s okay.  That’s democracy.  That’s how it works.  We can debate those differences vigorously, passionately, in good faith, through the normal democratic process.

And sometimes, we’ll be just too far apart to forge an agreement.  But that should not hold back our efforts in areas where we do agree.  We shouldn’t fail to act on areas that we do agree or could agree just because we don’t think it’s good politics; just because the extremes in our party don’t like the word “compromise.”

I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done.  And there’s no good reason why we can’t govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.  In fact, one of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important.  It matters.  I think the American people during this shutdown had a chance to get some idea of all the things, large and small, that government does that make a difference in people’s lives.

We hear all the time about how government is the problem.  Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways.  Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement, it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries.  It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe.  It helps folks rebuild after a storm.  It conserves our natural resources.  It finances startups.  It helps to sell our products overseas.  It provides security to our diplomats abroad.

So let’s work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse.  That’s not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government.  You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position.  Go out there and win an election.  Push to change it. But don’t break it.  Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building.  That’s not being faithful to what this country is about.

And that brings me to one last point.  I’ve got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you.  Thanks for your service.  Welcome back.  What you do is important.  It matters.

You defend our country overseas.  You deliver benefits to our troops who’ve earned them when they come home.  You guard our borders.  You protect our civil rights.  You help businesses grow and gain footholds in overseas markets.  You protect the air we breathe and the water our children drink.  And you push the boundaries of science and space, and you guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glories of this country. Thank you.  What you do is important.  And don’t let anybody else tell you different.  Especially the young people who come to this city to serve — believe that it matters.  Well, you know what, you’re right.  It does.

And those of us who have the privilege to serve this country have an obligation to do our job as best we can.  We come from different parties, but we are Americans first.  And that’s why disagreement cannot mean dysfunction.  It can’t degenerate into hatred.  The American people’s hopes and dreams are what matters, not ours.  Our obligations are to them.  Our regard for them compels us all, Democrats and Republicans, to cooperate, and compromise, and act in the best interests of our nation –- one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Thanks very much.

END
11:20 A.M. EDT

Political Musings October 17, 2013: Shutdown over: Obama signs, House, Senate pass budget and debt ceiling bill

HISTORY MUSINGS

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

Shutdown over: Obama signs, House, Senate pass budget and debt ceiling bill (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The 16-day partial government shutdown is over after both the Senate and House of Representatives passed a short term spending bill and raised the debt ceiling limit late Wednesday evening, Oct. 16, 2013, President Barack Obama promptly signed the…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency October 16, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on a Deal to End the Government Shutdown

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President of the United States

Source: WH, 10-16-13

President Obama Delivers a Statement

President Obama Delivers a Statement

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

8:28 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  Tonight, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together around an agreement that will reopen our government and remove the threat of default from our economy.

The Senate has now voted to approve this agreement, and Democrats and Republicans in the House still have an important vote to take, but I want to thank the leaders of both parties for getting us to this point.  Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately.  We’ll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people.

I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow.  And I’ve got some thoughts about how we can move forward in the remainder of the year and stay focused on the job at hand, because there is a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that has been lost over the last few weeks.  And we can begin to do that by addressing the real issues that they care about.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:  I am willing to work with anybody, I am eager to work with anybody — Democrat or Republican, House or Senate members — on any idea that will grow our economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle class, and get our fiscal house in order for the long term.  I’ve never believed that Democrats have a monopoly on good ideas.  And despite the differences over the issue of shutting down our government, I’m convinced that Democrats and Republicans can work together to make progress for America.

In fact, there are things that we know will help strengthen our economy that we could get done before this year is out.  We still need to pass a law to fix our broken immigration system.  We still need to pass a farm bill.  And with the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country.

And we could get all these things done even this year if everybody comes together in a spirit of how are we going to move this country forward and put the last three weeks behind us.  That’s what I believe the American people are looking for — not a focus on politics, not a focus on elections, but a focus on the concrete steps that can improve their lives.  That’s going to be my focus.  I’m looking forward to Congress doing the same.

But, once again, I want to thank the leadership for coming together and getting this done.  Hopefully, next time, it won’t be in the 11th hour.  One of the things that I said throughout this process is we’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis.  And my hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can’t work on the issues at hand, why we can’t disagree between the parties while still being agreeable, and make sure that we’re not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.

So hopefully that’s a lesson that will be internalized, not just by me but also by Democrats and Republicans, not only the leaders but also the rank and file.

Thanks very much, everybody.

Q    Mr. President, isn’t this going to happen all over again in a few months?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  (Laughter.)

END
8:31 P.M. EDT

Political Musings October 16, 2013: Senate again responsible for deals ending shutdown and raising the debt ceiling

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Senate again responsible for deals ending shutdown and raising the debt ceiling

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Senate is again responsible for passing bills to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling before the deadline, after the House GOP on Tuesday evening, Oct. 15, 2013 failed another attempt to secure a plan ending the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 16, 2013: House GOP fails again to agree on deal to end shutdown, raise debt ceiling

HISTORY MUSINGS

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

House GOP fails again to agree on deal to end shutdown, raise debt ceiling

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Republican leadership in the House of Representatives tried again on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 to create short-term bills to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling limit, to avert any further crisis, which failed to lead even…READ MORE

Political Musings October 14, 2013: Senate at impasse over shutdown and debt deals with US sitting on the brink

HISTORY MUSINGS

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HISTORY & POLITICAL HEADLINES

Senate at impasse over shutdown and debt deals with US sitting on the brink

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Nearly two days after commencing negotiations, and two weeks after the start of the government shutdown at the end of Sunday, October 13, 2013, the Senate Democrats and Republicans are at an impasse in agreeing on a deal that would…READ MORE

Political Musings October 14, 2013: Senate at impasse over shutdown and debt deals with US sitting on the brink

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Senate at impasse over shutdown and debt deals with US sitting on the brink

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Nearly two days after commencing negotiations, and two weeks after the start of the government shutdown at the end of Sunday, October 13, 2013, the Senate Democrats and Republicans are at an impasse in agreeing on a deal that would…READ MORE

Political Musings October 13, 2013: Obama, GOP focus on ending government shutdown, debt deal in weekly addresses

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama, GOP focus on ending government shutdown, debt deal in weekly addresses (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

For the second week in a row both President Barack Obama and the Republican Party devoted their weekly addresses released on Saturday morning, Oct. 12, 2013 to the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis. The addresses were delivered over…READ MORE

Political Musings October 11, 2013: President Obama refuses GOP proposed debt ceiling deal after White House meeting

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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Political Musings July 31, 2013: President Barack Obama meets with House and Senate Democrats at Capitol on fall battles with GOP

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Obama meets with House and Senate Democrats at Capitol on fall battles with GOP

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States President Barack Obama headed to Capitol Hill today, July 31, 2013 to meet with House of Representatives and Senate Democrats to discuss his legislative agenda for the fall session. Obama has renewed his focus on the economy in…READ MORE

Political Headlines January 23, 2013: House passes Republican plan to extend debt limit to May 19 with a vote of 285-144

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

House passes Republican plan to extend debt limit to May 19

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (C) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (L) arrive at a news conference on the ''fiscal cliff'' on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 21, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (C) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (L) arrive at a news conference on the ”fiscal cliff” on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed an extension of borrowing authority under the federal debt limit to May 19, putting the Republican plan on a fast track to enactment after top Senate Democrats endorsed it.

The 285-144 vote in the House fell largely along party lines, with many Democrats objecting to the short-term nature of the extension….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 23, 2013: House Passes ‘No Budget No Pay’ Act & Extends Debt Limit by Three Months with 285-144 Vote

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

House Passes ‘No Budget No Pay,’ Extends Debt Limit by Three Months

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-23-13

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve a three-month extension of the debt limit in a bill that concurrently pressures lawmakers to adopt a budget or have their congressional pay withheld.

The vote passed by a count of 285-144. Thirty-three Republicans opposed the measure, while 86 Democrats voted to approve it, sending the legislation to the Senate where it is also expected to pass, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The bill, known as the No Budget No Pay Act of 2013, directs both chambers of Congress to adopt a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014 by April 15, 2013. If either body fails to pass a budget, members of that body would have their paychecks put into an escrow account starting on April 16 until that body adopts a budget. Any pay that is withheld would eventually be released at the end of the current Congress even if a budget doesn’t ever pass….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 22, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech Leaves GOP Stark Choices on Debt Limit

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Speech Leaves G.O.P. Stark Choices

Source: NYT, 1-22-13

Speaker John A. Boehner, center, and other House Republicans on Tuesday at a news conference urging a set budget.

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

Speaker John A. Boehner, center, and other House Republicans on Tuesday at a news conference urging a set budget.

As President Obama’s second term begins, Republican leaders appear ready to accede at least in the short term on some matters, like increasing the debt limit….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 14, 2013: Speaker John Boehner, House GOP Ready for Fight with President Barack Obama, Democrats Over Debt Ceiling Limit

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner, GOP Ready for Fight with Obama, Dems Over Debt Limit

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-14-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker John Boehner openly challenged President Obama to another battle over the country’s mounting deficit Monday, answering Obama’s declaration that “America cannot afford another debate” over the debt limit by saying that Americans “do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time.”

“The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved,” Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in a statement Monday afternoon. “Without meaningful action, the debt will continue to act as an anchor on our economy, costing American jobs and endangering our children’s future.”…READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines January 14, 2013: Speaker John Boehner’s Response to President Barack Obama’s Press Conference

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Speaker Boehner Response to President Obama’s Press Conference

Source: Speaker Boehner Press Office, 1-14-13

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following the statement in response to President Obama’s comments today regarding the debt limit.

“The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time. The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved. Without meaningful action, the debt will continue to act as an anchor on our economy, costing American jobs and endangering our children’s future. The House will do its job and pass responsible legislation that controls spending, meets our nation’s obligations and keeps the government running, and we will insist that the Democratic majority in Washington do the same.”

Full Text Obama Presidency January 14, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Final News Press Conference of His First Term

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Holds the Final Press Conference of His First Term

Source: WH, 1-14-13

President Obama Holds News Conference in the East Room, Jan. 14, 2013

President Barack Obama responds to a question during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 14, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama today invited the White House Press Corps to the East Room for one last news conference as his first term comes to an end. Before taking questions from the assembled journalists, the President took a moment to reflect on the past four years, and look ahead to his agenda for the next term, which includes new jobs, new opportunity, and new security for the middle class:

One component to growing our economy and broadening opportunity for the middle class is shrinking our deficits in a balanced and responsible way. And for nearly two years now, I’ve been fighting for such a plan — one that would reduce our deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade, which would stabilize our debt and our deficit in a sustainable way for the next decade. That would be enough not only to stop the growth of our debt relative to the size of our economy, but it would make it manageable so it doesn’t crowd out the investments we need to make in people and education and job training and science and medical research — all the things that help us grow.

The President also addressed the dangers our country will face if Congressional Republicans go forward with their threat to let America default on our spending obligations:

If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits will be delayed. We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear material wouldn’t get their paychecks. Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is, in fact, a safe bet. Markets could go haywire. Interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money — every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire. It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession, and ironically, would probably increase our deficit.

So to even entertain the idea of this happening — of the United States of America not paying its bills — is irresponsible. It’s absurd. As the Speaker said two years ago, it would be — and I’m quoting Speaker Boehner now — “a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy.”

So we’ve got to pay our bills. And Republicans in Congress have two choices here: They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills; or they can act irresponsibly, and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.

In addition to questions on the so-called debt ceiling, the President also talked about preventing gun violence and the need for bipartisan compromise to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way. You can watch the entire press conference here.

News Conference by the President

East Room

11:39 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Please have a seat, everybody.  Good morning.  I thought it might make sense to take some questions this week, as my first term comes to an end.

It’s been a busy and productive four years.  And I expect the same for the next four years.  I intend to carry out the agenda that I campaigned on — an agenda for new jobs, new opportunity, and new security for the middle class.

Right now, our economy is growing, and our businesses are creating new jobs, so we are poised for a good year if we make smart decisions and sound investments — and as long as Washington politics don’t get in the way of America’s progress.

As I said on the campaign, one component to growing our economy and broadening opportunity for the middle class is shrinking our deficits in a balanced and responsible way.  And for nearly two years now, I’ve been fighting for such a plan — one that would reduce our deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade, which would stabilize our debt and our deficit in a sustainable way for the next decade.  That would be enough not only to stop the growth of our debt relative to the size of our economy, but it would make it manageable so it doesn’t crowd out the investments we need to make in people and education and job training and science and medical research — all the things that help us grow.

Now, step by step, we’ve made progress towards that goal.  Over the past two years, I’ve signed into law about $1.4 trillion in spending cuts.  Two weeks ago, I signed into law more than $600 billion in new revenue by making sure the wealthiest Americans begin to pay their fair share.  When you add the money that we’ll save in interest payments on the debt, all together that adds up to a total of about $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the past two years — not counting the $400 billion already saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So we’ve made progress.  We are moving towards our ultimate goal of getting to a $4 trillion reduction.  And there will be more deficit reduction when Congress decides what to do about the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that have been pushed off until next month.

The fact is, though, we can’t finish the job of deficit reduction through spending cuts alone.  The cuts we’ve already made to priorities other than Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense mean that we spend on everything from education to public safety less as a share of our economy than it has — than has been true for a generation.  And that’s not a recipe for growth.

So we’ve got to do more both to stabilize our finances over the medium and long term, but also spur more growth in the short term.  I’ve said I’m open to making modest adjustments to programs like Medicare to protect them for future generations.  I’ve also said that we need more revenue through tax reform by closing loopholes in our tax code for the wealthiest Americans.  If we combine a balanced package of savings from spending on health care and revenues from closing loopholes, we can solve the deficit issue without sacrificing our investments in things like education that are going to help us grow.

It turns out the American people agree with me.  They listened to an entire year’s debate over this issue, and they made a clear decision about the approach they prefer.  They don’t think it’s fair, for example, to ask a senior to pay more for his or her health care, or a scientist to shut down lifesaving research so that a multimillionaire investor can pay less in tax rates than a secretary.  They don’t think it’s smart to protect endless corporate loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans rather than rebuild our roads and our schools, invest in our workers’ skills, or help manufacturers bring jobs back to America.  So they want us to get our books in order in a balanced way, where everybody pulls their weight, everyone does their part.

That’s what I want as well.  That’s what I’ve proposed.  And we can get it done, but we’re going to have to make sure that people are looking at this in a responsible way rather than just through the lens of politics.

Now, the other congressionally imposed deadline coming up is the so-called debt ceiling — something most Americans hadn’t even heard of before two years ago.  I want to be clear about this.  The debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending.  Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending.  It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to.  These are bills that have already been racked up and we need to pay them.

So while I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficits, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up.

If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits will be delayed.  We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners.  Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialists who track down loose nuclear material wouldn’t get their paychecks.  Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is, in fact, a safe bet.  Markets could go haywire.  Interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money — every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire.  It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy.  It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession, and ironically, would probably increase our deficit.

So to even entertain the idea of this happening — of the United States of America not paying its bills — is irresponsible.  It’s absurd.  As the Speaker said two years ago, it would be — and I’m quoting Speaker Boehner now — “a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy.”

So we’ve got to pay our bills.  And Republicans in Congress have two choices here:  They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills; or they can act irresponsibly, and put America through another economic crisis.  But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.  The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used.  The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip.

And they better choose quickly, because time is running short.  The last time Republicans in Congress even flirted with this idea, our AAA credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history; our businesses created the fewest jobs of any month in nearly the past three years; and, ironically, the whole fiasco actually added to the deficit.

So it shouldn’t be surprising, given all this talk, that the American people think Washington is hurting, rather than helping, the country at the moment.  They see their representatives consumed with partisan brinksmanship over paying our bills, while they overwhelmingly want us to focus on growing the economy and creating more jobs.

So let’s finish this debate.  Let’s give our businesses and the world the certainty that our economy and our reputation are still second to none.  We pay our bills.  We handle our business. And then we can move on — because America has a lot to do.  We’ve got to create more jobs.  We’ve got to boost the wages of those who have work.  We’ve got to reach for energy independence. We’ve got to reform our immigration system.  We’ve got to give our children the best education possible, and we’ve got to do everything we can to protect them from the horrors of gun violence.

And let me say I’m grateful to Vice President Biden for his work on this issue of gun violence and for his proposals, which I’m going to be reviewing today and I will address in the next few days and I intend to vigorously pursue.

So, with that, I’m going to take some questions.  And I’m going to start with Julie Pace of AP.  And I want to congratulate Julie for this new, important job.

Q    Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    I wanted to ask about gun violence.  Today marks the one-year — or one-month anniversary of the shooting in Newtown, which seemed to generate some momentum for reinstating the assault weapons ban.  But there’s been fresh opposition to that ban from the NRA.  And even Harry Reid has said that he questions whether it could pass Congress.  Given that, how hard will you push for an assault weapons ban?  And if one cannot pass Congress, what other measures would need to be included in a broad package in order to curb gun violence successfully?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I said, the Vice President and a number of members of my Cabinet went through a very thorough process over the last month, meeting with a lot of stakeholders in this including the NRA, listened to proposals from all quarters, and they’ve presented me now with a list of sensible, common-sense steps that can be taken to make sure that the kinds of violence we saw at Newtown doesn’t happen again.

I’m going to be meeting with the Vice President today.  I expect to have a fuller presentation later in the week to give people some specifics about what I think we need to do.

My starting point is not to worry about the politics; my starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works; what should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we’re reducing the incidents of gun violence.  And I think we can do that in a sensible way that comports with the Second Amendment.

And then members of Congress I think are going to have to have a debate and examine their own conscience — because if, in fact — and I believe this is true — everybody across party lines was as deeply moved and saddened as I was by what happened in Newtown, then we’re going to have to vote based on what we think is best.  We’re going to have to come up with answers that set politics aside.  And that’s what I expect Congress to do.

But what you can count is, is that the things that I’ve said in the past — the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of folks who shouldn’t have them, an assault weapons ban that is meaningful — that those are things I continue to believe make sense.

Will all of them get through this Congress?  I don’t know.  But what’s uppermost in my mind is making sure that I’m honest with the American people and with members of Congress about what I think will work, what I think is something that will make a difference.  And to repeat what I’ve said earlier — if there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step.

Q    Can a package be discussed to allow an assault weapons ban?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ll present the details later in the week.

Chuck Todd, NBC.

Q    Thank you, sir.  As you know, the Senate Democrats, Harry Reid sent you a letter begging you, essentially, to take — consider some sort of executive action on this debt ceiling issue.  I know you’ve said you’re not negotiating on it.  Your administration has ruled out the various ideas that have been out there — the 14th Amendment.  But just this morning, one of the House Democratic leaders, Jim Clyburn, asked you to use the 14th Amendment and even said, sometimes that’s what it takes.  He brought up the Emancipation Proclamation as saying it took executive action when Congress wouldn’t act, and he compared the debt ceiling to that.  So are you considering a plan B, and if not, why not?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Chuck, the issue here is whether or not America pays its bills.  We are not a deadbeat nation.  And so there’s a very simple solution to this:  Congress authorizes us to pay our bills.

Now, if the House and the Senate want to give me the authority so that they don’t have to take these tough votes, if they want to put the responsibility on me to raise the debt ceiling, I’m happy to take it.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader in the Senate, had a proposal like that last year, and I’m happy to accept it.  But if they want to keep this responsibility, then they need to go ahead and get it done.

And there are no magic tricks here.  There are no loopholes. There are no easy outs.  This is a matter of Congress authorizes spending.  They order me to spend.  They tell me, you need to fund our Defense Department at such and such a level; you need to send out Social Security checks; you need to make sure that you are paying to care for our veterans.  They lay all this out for me because they have the spending power.  And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills.

Separately, they also have to authorize the raising of the debt ceiling in order to make sure that those bills are paid.  And so, what Congress can’t do is tell me to spend X, and then say, but we’re not going to give you the authority to go ahead and pay the bills.

And I just want to repeat — because I think sometimes the American people, understandably, aren’t following all the debates here in Washington — raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more.  All it does is say that America will pay its bills.  And we are not a dead-beat nation.  And the consequences of us not paying our bills, as I outlined in my opening statement, would be disastrous.

So I understand the impulse to try to get around this in a simple way.  But there’s one way to get around this.  There’s one way to deal with it.  And that is for Congress to authorize me to pay for those items of spending that they have already authorized.

And the notion that Republicans in the House, or maybe some Republicans in the Senate, would suggest that “in order for us to get our way on our spending priorities, that we would risk the full faith and credit of the United States” — that I think is not what the Founders intended.  That’s not how I think most Americans think our democracy should work.  They’ve got a point of view; Democrats in Congress have a point of view.  They need to sit down and work out a compromise.

Q    You just outlined an entire rationale for why this can’t happen.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    And if — then if — and you’re not negotiating on the debt ceiling.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    So you’re not negotiating and they say you have to negotiate, and you’re not considering another plan B, then do you just wait it out and we do go — we do see all these things happen?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well look, Chuck, there are — there’s a pretty straightforward way of doing this and that is to set the debt ceiling aside, we pay our bills, and then we have a vigorous debate about how we’re going to do further deficit reduction in a balanced way.

Keep in mind that what we’ve heard from some Republicans in both the House and the Senate is that they will only increase the debt ceiling by the amount of spending cuts that they’re able to push through and — in order to replace the automatic spending cuts of the sequester — that’s $1.2 trillion.  Say it takes another trillion or trillion-two to get us through one more year, they’d have to identify $2.5 trillion in cuts just to get the debt ceiling extended to next year — $2.5 trillion.

They can’t even — Congress has not been able to identify $1.2 trillion in cuts that they’re happy with.  Because these same Republicans say they don’t want to cut defense; they’ve claimed that they don’t want to gut Medicare or harm the vulnerable.  But the truth of the matter is that you can’t meet their own criteria without drastically cutting Medicare, or having an impact on Medicaid, or affecting our defense spending. So the math just doesn’t add up.

Now, here’s what would work.  What would work would be for us to say we’ve already done close to $2 trillion in deficit reduction, and if you add the interest that we won’t be paying because of less spending and increased revenue, it adds up to about $2.5 trillion.  The consensus is we need about $4 trillion to stabilize our debt and our deficit, which means we need about $1.5 trillion more.  The package that I offered to Speaker Boehner before we — before the New Year would achieve that.  We were actually fairly close in terms of arriving at that number.

So if the goal is to make sure that we are being responsible about our debt and our deficit, if that’s the conversation we’re having, I’m happy to have that conversation.  And by closing some additional loopholes through tax reform — which Speaker Boehner has acknowledged can raise money in a sensible way — and by doing some additional cuts, including making sure that we are reducing our health care spending, which is the main driver of our deficits, we can arrive at a package that gets this thing done.

I’m happy to have that conversation.  What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people — the threat that “unless we get our way, unless you gut Medicare or Medicaid, or otherwise slash things that the American people don’t believe should be slashed, that we’re going to threaten to wreck the entire economy.”  That is not how historically this has been done.  That’s not how we’re going to do it this time.

Q    No plan B?  You’re not searching for any other —

THE PRESIDENT:  Chuck, what I’m saying to you is that there is no simpler solution, no ready, credible solution, other than Congress either give me the authority to raise the debt ceiling, or exercise the responsibility that they have kept for themselves and raise the debt ceiling.  Because this is about paying your bills.

Everybody here understands this.  I mean, this is not a complicated concept.  You don’t go out to dinner and then eat all you want, and then leave without paying the check.  And if you do, you’re breaking the law.  And Congress should think about it the same way that the American people do.  You don’t — now, if Congress wants to have a debate about maybe we shouldn’t go out to dinner next time, maybe we should go to a more modest restaurant, that’s fine.  That’s a debate that we should have.  But you don’t say, in order for me to control my appetites, I’m going to not pay the people who already provided me services, people who already lent me the money.  That’s not showing any discipline.  All that’s doing is not meeting your obligations.  You can’t do that.

And that’s not a credible way to run this government.  We’ve got to stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis, when there’s this clear path ahead of us that simply requires some discipline, some responsibility and some compromise.  That’s where we need to go.  That’s how this needs to work.

Major Garrett.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  As you well know, sir, finding votes for the debt ceiling can sometimes be complicated.
You, yourself, as a member of the Senate, voted against a debt ceiling increase.  And in previous aspects of American history — President Reagan in 1985, President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1990, President Clinton in 1997 — all signed deficit reduction deals that were contingent upon or in the context of raising the debt ceiling.  You, yourself, four times have done that.  Three times, those were related to deficit reduction or budget maneuvers.

What Chuck and I and I think many people are curious about is this new, adamant desire on your part not to negotiate, when that seems to conflict with the entire history in the modern era of American Presidents and the debt ceiling, and your own history on the debt ceiling.  And doesn’t that suggest that we are going to go into a default situation because no one is talking to each other about how to resolve this?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, no, Major, I think if you look at the history, getting votes for the debt ceiling is always difficult, and budgets in this town are always difficult.  I went through this just last year.  But what’s different is we never saw a situation as we saw last year in which certain groups in Congress took such an absolutist position that we came within a few days of defaulting.  And the fact of the matter is, is that we have never seen the debt ceiling used in this fashion, where the notion was, you know what, we might default unless we get 100 percent of what we want.  That hasn’t happened.

Now, as I indicated before, I’m happy to have a conversation about how we reduce our deficits further in a sensible way.  Although one thing I want to point out is that the American people are also concerned about how we grow our economy, how we put people back to work, how we make sure that we finance our workers getting properly trained and our schools are giving our kids the education we deserve.  There’s a whole growth agenda which will reduce our deficits that’s important as well.

But what you’ve never seen is the notion that has been presented, so far at least, by the Republicans that deficit reduction — we’ll only count spending cuts; that we will raise the deficit — or the debt ceiling dollar for dollar on spending cuts.  There are a whole set of rules that have been established that are impossible to meet without doing severe damage to the economy.

And so what we’re not going to do is put ourselves in a position where in order to pay for spending that we’ve already incurred, that our two options are we’re either going to profoundly hurt the economy and hurt middle-class families and hurt seniors and hurt kids who are trying to go to college, or, alternatively, we’re going to blow up the economy.  We’re not going to do that.

Q    (Inaudible) — open to a one-to-three-month extension to the debt ceiling — whatever Congress sends you, you’re okay with it?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, not whatever Congress sends me.  They’re going to have to send me something that’s sensible.  And we shouldn’t be doing this —

Q    — (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  — and we shouldn’t be doing this on a one to three-month timeframe.  Why would we do that?  This is the United States of America, Major.  What, we can’t manage our affairs in such a way that we pay our bills and we provide some certainty in terms of how we pay our bills?

Look, I don’t think anybody would consider my position unreasonable here.  I have —

Q    But why does it presuppose the need to negotiate and talk about this on a daily basis?  Because if default is the biggest threat to the economy, why not talk about it —

THE PRESIDENT:  Major, I am happy to have a conversation about how we reduce our deficits.  I’m not going to have a monthly or every-three-months conversation about whether or not we pay our bills.  Because that in and of itself does severe damage.  Even the threat of default hurts our economy.  It’s hurting our economy as we speak.  We shouldn’t be having that debate.

If we want to have a conversation about how to reduce our deficit, let’s have that.  We’ve been having that for the last two years.  We just had an entire campaign about it.  And by the way, the American people agreed with me that we should reduce our deficits in a balanced way that also takes into account the need for us to grow this economy and put people back to work.

And despite that conversation, and despite the election results, the position that’s been taken on the part of some House Republicans is that, “no, we’ve got to do it our way, and if we don’t, we simply won’t pay America’s bills.”  Well, that can’t be a position that is sustainable over time.  It’s not one that’s good for the economy now.  It’s certainly not going to be the kind of precedent that I want to establish not just for my presidency, but for future Presidents, even if it was on the other side.

Democrats don’t like voting for the debt ceiling when a Republican is President, and yet you — but you never saw a situation in which Democrats suggested somehow that we would go ahead and default if we didn’t get 100 percent of our way.  That’s just not how it’s supposed to work.

Jon Karl.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  On the issue of guns, given how difficult it will be — some would say impossible — to get any gun control measure passed through this Congress, what are you willing or able to do, using the powers of your presidency, to act without Congress?  And I’d also like to know, what do you make of these long lines we’re seeing at gun shows and gun stores all around the country?  I mean, even in Connecticut, applications for guns are up since the shooting in Newtown.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, my understanding is the Vice President is going to provide a range of steps that we can take to reduce gun violence.  Some of them will require legislation.  Some of them I can accomplish through executive action.  And so I’ll be reviewing those today.  And as I said, I’ll speak in more detail to what we’re going to go ahead and propose later in the week.

But I’m confident that there are some steps that we can take that don’t require legislation and that are within my authority as President.  And where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence then I want to go ahead and take it.

Q    Any idea of what kind of steps?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think, for example, how we are gathering data, for example, on guns that fall into the hands of criminals, and how we track that more effectively — there may be some steps that we can take administratively as opposed through legislation.

As far as people lining up and purchasing more guns, I think that we’ve seen for some time now that those who oppose any common-sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government is about to take all your guns away.  And there’s probably an economic element to that.  It obviously is good for business.

But I think that those of us who look at this problem have repeatedly said that responsible gun owners, people who have a gun for protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship, they don’t have anything to worry about.  The issue here is not whether or not we believe in the Second Amendment.  The issue is, are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can’t walk into a school and gun down a bunch of children in a shockingly rapid fashion.  And surely, we can do something about that.

But part of the challenge that we confront is, is that even the slightest hint of some sensible, responsible legislation in this area fans this notion that somehow, here it comes and everybody’s guns are going to be taken away.  It’s unfortunate, but that’s the case.  And if you look at over the first four years of my administration, we’ve tried to tighten up and enforce some of the laws that were already on the books.  But it would be pretty hard to argue that somehow gun owners have had their rights infringed.

Q    So you think this is an irrational fear that’s driving all these people to go and stock up —

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me?

Q    Do you think this is an irrational fear —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I said, I think it’s a fear that’s fanned by those who are worried about the possibility of any legislation getting out there.

Julianna Goldman.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I just want to come back to the debt ceiling, because in the summer of 2011, you said that you wouldn’t negotiate on the debt ceiling, and you did.  Last year, you said that you wouldn’t extend any of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and you did.  So as you say now that you’re not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling this year, why should House Republicans take that seriously and think that if we get to the one-minute-to-midnight scenario, that you’re not going to back down?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, Julianna, let’s take the example of this year and the fiscal cliff.  I didn’t say that I would not have any conversations at all about extending the Bush tax cuts.  What I said was we weren’t going to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthy — and we didn’t.  Now, you can argue that during the campaign I said — I set the criteria for wealthy at $250,000 and we ended up being at $400,000.  But the fact of the matter is millionaires, billionaires are paying significantly more in taxes, just as I said.  So from the start, my concern was making sure that we had a tax code that was fair and that protected the middle class, and my biggest priority was making sure that middle-class taxes did not go up.

The difference between this year and 2011 is the fact that we’ve already made $1.2 trillion in cuts.  And at the time, I indicated that there were cuts that we could sensibly make that would not damage our economy, would not impede growth.  I said at the time I think we should pair it up with revenue in order to have an overall balanced package.  But my own budget reflected cuts in discretionary spending.  My own budget reflected the cuts that needed to be made, and we’ve made those cuts.

Now, the challenge going forward is that we’ve now made some big cuts, and if we’re going to do further deficit reduction, the only way to do it is in a balanced and responsible way.

The alternative is for us to go ahead and cut commitments that we’ve made on things like Medicare, or Social Security, or Medicaid, and for us to fundamentally change commitments that we’ve made to make sure that seniors don’t go into poverty, or that children who are disabled are properly cared for.  For us to change that contract we’ve made with the American people rather than look at options like closing loopholes for corporations that they don’t need, that points to a long-term trend in which we have fundamentally, I think, undermined what people expect out of this government — which is that parties sit down, they negotiate, they compromise, but they also reflect the will of the American people; that you don’t have one narrow faction that is able to simply dictate 100 percent of what they want all the time or otherwise threaten that we destroy the American economy.

Another way of putting it is we’ve got to break the habit of negotiating through crisis over and over again.  And now is as good of a time as any, at the start of my second term, because if we continue down this path, then there’s really no stopping the principle.  I mean, literally — even in divided government, even where we’ve got a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate, that a small group in the House of Representatives could simply say every two months, every three months, every six months, every year, we are going to more and more change the economy in ways that we prefer, despite strong objections of Americans all across the country, or otherwise we’re going to have America not pay its bills.  And that is no way for us to do business.

And by the way, I would make the same argument if it was a Republican President and a Republican Senate and you had a handful of Democrats who were suggesting that we are going to hijack the process and make sure that either we get our way 100 percent of the time, or otherwise we are going to default on America’s obligations.

Q    (Inaudible) — line in the sand negotiating, how is that (inaudible) to the economy?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, look, what I’ve said is that I’m happy to have a conversation about deficit reduction —

Q    So you technically are willing to negotiate?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, Julianna, look, this is pretty straightforward.  Either Congress pays its bills or it doesn’t.  Now, if — and they want to keep this responsibility; if John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think that they can come up with a plan that somehow meets their criteria that they’ve set for why they will — when they will raise the debt ceiling, they’re free to go ahead and try.  But the proposals that they’ve put forward in order to accomplish that — only by cutting spending — means cuts to things like Medicare and education that the American people profoundly reject.

Now, if they think that they can get that through Congress, then they’re free to try.  But I think that a better way of doing this is go ahead and say, we’re going to pay our bills.  The question now is how do we actually get our deficit in a manageable, sustainable way?  And that’s a conversation I’m happy to have.

All right.  Matt Spetalnick.

Q    Thank you, sir.  You’ve spoken extensively about the debt ceiling debate, but some Republicans have further said that they’re willing to allow a government shutdown to take place rather than put off deep spending cuts.  Are you prepared to allow the government to grind to a halt if you disagree with the spending cut proposals they put forth?  And who do you think the American people would blame if that came to pass?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, ultimately, Congress makes the decisions about whether or not we spend money and whether or not we keep this government open.  And if the Republicans in Congress have made a decision that they want to shut down the government in order to get their way then they have the votes at least in the House of Representatives, probably, to do that.

I think that would be a mistake.  I think it would be profoundly damaging to our economy.  I think it would actually add to our deficit because it will impede growth.  I think it’s shortsighted.  But they’re elected representatives, and folks put them into those positions and they’re going to have to make a decision about that.  And I don’t — I suspect that the American people would blame all of Washington for not being able to get its act together.

But the larger issue here has to do with what is it that we’re trying to accomplish.  Are we trying to reduce the deficit? Because if we’re trying to reduce the deficit, then we can shape a bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit.  I mean, is that really our objective?  Our concern is that we’re spending more than we take in, and if that’s the case, then there’s a way of balancing that out so that we take in more money in increasing revenue and we reduce spending.  And there’s a recipe for getting that done.

And in the conversations that I had with Speaker Boehner before the end of the year, we came pretty close — a few hundred billion dollars separating us when stretched over a 10-year period, that’s not a lot.

But it seems as if what’s motivating and propelling at this point some of the House Republicans is more than simply deficit reduction.  They have a particular vision about what government should and should not do.  So they are suspicious about government’s commitments, for example, to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older. They have suspicions about Social Security.  They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat, or whether we should be spending money on medical research.  So they’ve got a particular view of what government should do and should be.

And that view was rejected by the American people when it was debated during the presidential campaign.  I think every poll that’s out there indicates that the American people actually think our commitment to Medicare or to education is really important, and that’s something that we should look at as a last resort in terms of reducing the deficit, and it makes a lot more sense for us to close, for example, corporate loopholes before we go to putting a bigger burden on students or seniors.

But if the House Republicans disagree with that and they want to shut down the government to see if they can get their way on it, that’s their prerogative.  That’s how the system is set up.  It will damage our economy.

The government is a big part of this economy, and it’s interesting that a lot of times you have people who recognize that when it comes to defense spending — some of the same folks who say we’ve got to cut spending, or complain that government jobs don’t do anything, when it comes to that defense contractor in their district, they think, wow, this is a pretty important part of the economy in my district and we shouldn’t stop spending on that.  Let’s just make sure we’re not spending on those other folks.

Q    — find agreement with Republicans on this and —

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, my hope is, is that common sense prevails.  That’s always my preference.  And I think that would the preference of the American people, and that’s what would be good for the economy.

So let me just repeat:  If the issue is deficit reduction, getting our deficits sustainable over time, getting our debt in a sustainable place, then Democrats and Republicans in Congress will have a partner with me.

We can achieve that, and we can achieve it fairly quickly.  I mean, we know what the numbers are.  We know what needs to be done.  We know what a balanced approach would take.  We’ve already done probably more than half of the deficit reduction we need to stabilize the debt and the deficit.  There’s probably been more pain and drama in getting there than we needed.  And so finishing the job shouldn’t be that difficult — if everybody comes to the conversation with an open mind, and if we recognize that there are some things, like not paying our bills, that should be out of bounds.

All right.  I’m going to take one last question.  Jackie Calmes.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

Q    I’d like to ask you, now that you’ve reached the end of your first term, starting your second, about a couple of criticisms — one that’s longstanding, another more recent.  The longstanding one seems to have become a truism of sorts that you’re — you and your staff are too insular, that you don’t socialize enough.  And the second, the more recent criticism is that your team taking shape isn’t diverse — isn’t as diverse as it could be, or even was, in terms of getting additional voices, gender, race, ethnic diversity.  So I’d like you to address both of those.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sure.  Let me take the second one first.  I’m very proud that in the first four years we had as diverse, if not more diverse, a White House and a Cabinet than any in history.  And I intend to continue that, because it turns out that when you look for the very best people, given the incredible diversity of this country, you’re going to end up with a diverse staff and a diverse team.  And that very diversity helps to create more effective policymaking and better decision-making for me, because it brings different perspectives to the table.

So if you think about my first four years, the person who probably had the most influence on my foreign policy was a woman. The people who were in charge of moving forward my most important domestic initiative, health care, were women.  The person in charge of our homeland security was a woman.  My two appointments to the Supreme Court were women, and 50 percent of my White House staff were women.  So I think people should expect that that record will be built upon during the next four years.

Now, what, I’ve made four appointments so far?  And one women — admittedly, a high-profile one — is leaving the — has already left the administration, and I have made a replacement. But I would just suggest that everybody kind of wait until they’ve seen all my appointments, who’s in the White House staff and who’s in my Cabinet before they rush to judgment.

Q    (Inaudible) — the big three.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, but I guess what I’m saying, Jackie, is that I think until you’ve seen what my overall team looks like, it’s premature to assume that somehow we’re going backwards.  We’re not going backwards, we’re going forward.

With respect to this “truism” about me not socializing enough and patting folks on the back and all that stuff, most people who know me know I’m a pretty friendly guy.  (Laughter.)  And I like a good party.  (Laughter.)  And the truth is that when I was in the Senate, I had great relationships over there, and up until the point that I became President this was not an accusation that you heard very frequently.

I think that really what’s gone on in terms of some of the paralysis here in Washington or difficulties in negotiations just have to do with some very stark differences in terms of policy, some very sharp differences in terms of where we stand on issues. And if you think about, let’s say, myself and Speaker Boehner, I like Speaker Boehner personally, and when we went out and played golf we had a great time.  But that didn’t get a deal done in 2011.  When I’m over here at the congressional picnic and folks are coming up and taking pictures with their family, I promise you, Michelle and I are very nice to them and we have a wonderful time.  (Laughter.)  But it doesn’t prevent them from going onto the floor of the House and blasting me for being a big-spending socialist.  (Laughter.)

And the reason that, in many cases, Congress votes the way they do, or talks the way they talk, or takes positions in negotiations that they take doesn’t have to do with me.  It has to do with the imperatives that they feel in terms of their own politics — right?  They’re worried about their district.  They’re worried about what’s going on back home.

I think there are a lot of Republicans at this point that feel that given how much energy has been devoted in some of the media that’s preferred by Republican constituencies to demonize me, that it doesn’t look real good socializing with me.  Charlie Crist down in Florida I think testifies to that.  And I think a lot of folks say, well, if we look like we’re being too cooperative or too chummy with the President that might cause us problems.  That might be an excuse for us to get a challenge from somebody in a primary.

So that tends to be the challenge.  I promise you, we invite folks from Congress over here all the time.  And when they choose to come, I enjoy their company.  Sometimes they don’t choose to come, and that has to do with the fact that I think they don’t consider the optics useful for them politically.  And, ultimately, the way we’re going to get stuff done — personal relationships are important, and obviously I can always do a better job, and the nice thing is, is that now that my girls are getting older, they don’t want to spend that much time with me anyway, so I’ll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with me or something, because I’m getting kind of lonely in this big house.  (Laughter.)  So maybe a whole bunch of members of the House Republican caucus want to come over and socialize more.

But my suspicion is getting the issues resolved that we just talked about, the big stuff — whether or not we get sensible laws passed to prevent gun violence, whether or not America is paying its bills, whether or not we get immigration reform done  — all that’s going to be determined largely by where the respective parties stand on policy, and maybe most importantly, the attitude of the American people.

If the American people feel strongly about these issues and they push hard, and they reward or don’t reward members of Congress with their votes, if they reject sort of uncompromising positions or sharp partisanship or always looking out for the next election, and they reward folks who are trying to find common ground, then I think you’ll see behavior in Congress change.  And that will be true whether I’m the life of the party or a stick in the mud.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
12:31 P.M. EST

Political Headlines January 13, 2013: White House Denies Call for Trillion-Dollar Coin to Avoid Debt Ceiling

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Denies Call for Trillion-Dollar Coin to Avoid Debt Ceiling

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-13-13

The Obama administration has killed any notion of minting trillion-dollar platinum coins to solve the nation’s debt ceiling woes.

In a written statement released Saturday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says there are only “two options” to deal with the looming need for the U.S. government to pay creditors for federal funding it has already spent. Minting the proposed currency to pay it off and avoid an impending battle with Capitol Hill is not one of them.

“Congress can pay its bills or it can fail to act and put the nation into default,” he writes….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines January 12, 2013: GOP Weekly Address: Sen. Deb Fischer on the Debt Ceiling Limit & the ‘Federal Government Spends Too Much’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Weekly Address: The ‘Federal Government Spends Too Much,’ Says Sen. Deb Fischer

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-12-13

Douglas Graham/Roll Call

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer says now that Congress is ready to focus on the nation’s deficit, it’s time for serious action on the issue of government spending. In this week’s Republican address, Fischer says she agrees with her constituents across Nebraska who are consistent in their message: “Washington must cut out-of-control spending.”

Americans are “frustrated with the lack of progress from their elected leaders,” who haven’t reined in spending, but rather have “added $4 billion each day to our gross national debt,” she says. A limited government, which Fischer supports, would focus on “fulfilling its core duties and responsibilities” to “identify the national priorities worthy of taxpayer funding.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines December 5, 2012: President Barack Obama Rejects ‘Doomsday’ Plan as John Boehner Urges Fresh Talks

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Rejects ‘Doomsday’ Plan as Boehner Urges Fresh Talks

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-5-12

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

With the economy hanging in the balance, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday tangled over who’s to blame for the “fiscal cliff” standoff and what to do if lawmakers can’t reach a broad deficit-reduction agreement in 27 days.

Obama, speaking at a meeting of 100 CEOs, warned Republicans that he would not accept a so-called “doomsday” deal that extends tax cuts for middle-income earners before the end of the year but nothing more….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 5, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Raising Debt Ceiling as Part of ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal at Business Roundtable

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks to the Business Roundtable

Source: WH, 12-5-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks and takes questions from business leadersPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks and takes questions from business leaders at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable at the BRT in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama spoke to members of the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of American businesses, and reiterated his plan to extend tax cuts for middle-class families.

Opening Remarks by the President to the Business Roundtable

Source: WH, 12-5-12

Business Roundtable
Washington, D.C.

10:57 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, good morning, everybody. It is great to see all of you. Many of you I’ve had a chance to see individually or in small groups over the last several months, but it’s good to be back at the Business Roundtable. Jim, thanks for your leadership.

Originally, my team had prepared some remarks. They always get nervous when I’m out there on my own — never know what I might say. Given the dialogue that we had the last time, I thought it was useful for me to abbreviate my remarks, speak off the cuff at the top, and then spend most of our time just having a conversation.

Let me begin by saying that all of you in this room are not just business leaders, not just CEOs of your companies, but you’re also economic leaders and thought leaders in this country. And I recognize that all of you have an enormous investment not only in your own companies but in the well-being of America.

There are a lot of patriots in this room, people who care deeply about not only your bottom lines but also the future of this country. You’ve shown that over the last four years. We’ve gone through as difficult an economic period as we’ve seen in most of our lifetimes, and we’ve emerged not yet where we need to be but we’ve certainly made progress. And the reason we’ve made progress in part has been because of the outstanding management and productivity gains and efficiencies and competitiveness that you’ve been able to achieve in each and every one of your companies.

And I’ve said this to some of the small groups, let me repeat it to the large group — I am passionately rooting for your success, because if the companies in this room are doing well, then small businesses and medium-sized businesses up and down the chain are doing well. If companies in this room are doing well, then folks get jobs, consumers get confidence, and we’re going to be able to compete around the world.

Now, the good news is that despite the extraordinary challenges that we’ve seen over the last four years, there is progress in some key sectors of our economy. We’ve seen housing finally begin to bounce back for the first time. And that obviously has an enormous ripple effect throughout the economy. Consumer confidence is as high as it’s been. Many of you, over the last two, three years, have experienced record profits or near record profits, and have a lot of money where you’re prepared to invest in plants and equipment and hire folks.

Obviously, globally, the economy is still soft. Europe is going to be in the doldrums for quite some time. Asia is not charging forward, and some of the emerging markets are not charging forward as quickly as they were maybe a few years ago.

But I think what all of you recognize and many of you have told me is that everybody is looking to America because they understand that if we’re able to put forward a long-term agenda for growth and prosperity that’s broad-based here in the United States, that confidence will not just increase here in the United States, it will increase globally, and we can get the kind of virtuous cycle that I think all of us have been waiting for and want to see.

What’s holding us back right now, ironically, is a lot of stuff that’s going on in this town. And I know that many of you have come down here to try to see is there a way that we can break through the logjam and go ahead and get things done. And I’m here to tell you that nobody wants to get this done more than me. I know that you’ve gotten a lot of briefings, but let me just try to describe where the situation is right now with respect to our fiscal situation, both what the opportunities are but what also the challenges are.

I campaigned over the last year on the idea that we need to make sure that this economy is growing and that we’re providing ladders of opportunity for folks — (electricity goes out, feed drops) — I can speak pretty loud. Can people hear me in the back?

During the entire campaign, I talked about the importance of short-term measures to boost growth but also a long-term plan to make sure that we’ve got our fiscal house in order, and I called for a balanced and responsible plan. My budget reflects a balanced, responsible plan, and I’ve shown myself willing to make some tough decisions when it comes to government spending — because, despite, I think, my reputation or the reputation of Democrats, I don’t think every government program works exactly the way it should. I think there are efficiencies that can be gained; there are some programs that used to work and just don’t work now the way they were intended. And as a consequence, working with Democrats and Republicans last year, we were able to cut over a trillion dollars of spending — the largest cut, by the way, in discretionary spending in history. So we’re prepared to make some tough decisions when it comes to spending cuts.

But if you look at what’s needed in order for us to stabilize our budget, stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio, our debt-to-GDP ratio, then every credible economist will tell you that you can’t just do it on spending cuts. We can’t cut our way to prosperity, that there’s got to be a balanced approach in which we also are bringing in new revenues — partly because our revenue levels are as low as they’ve been in most of our lifetimes.

And what I’ve proposed, what I put forward in the campaign and what I think a majority of the American people agreed with — in fact, there’s some folks who didn’t vote for me that focus groups and polls show nevertheless they agreed with my concept when it comes to deficit reduction — is that an approach that says we’re going to raise additional revenue particularly from those who have done best in the economy over the last decade, combined with some smart cuts and with entitlement reform that can strengthen our social safety net over the long term but do so in a responsible way — that’s the way to go forward. And that’s what we’ve put forward.

Now, the question I think on the minds of a lot of you is how do you get there — because I know that, speaking to many of you privately, you agree with this approach. I’ve been struck by the number of CEOs who said, we’re willing to pay slightly higher taxes if it means that we’ve got the kind of certainty and stability over the long term that allows us to invest and hire with confidence. So most of the folks in this room I think are onboard for a balanced plan.

The problem that we had up until fairly recently — and this was extensively debated during the campaign — was the belief that either, A, we could balance our budgets entirely on spending cuts, or a variation that has emerged is, is that we can do so while still lowering rates simply by closing loopholes and deductions. And you’ve heard from my team, but let me just repeat, we don’t have any objection to tax reform, tax simplification, closing loopholes, closing deductions. But there is a bottom-line amount of revenue that is required in order for us to get a real, meaningful deficit reduction plan that hits the numbers that are required for us to stabilize our debt and deficits. And all the math that we’ve done — and we analyzed this stuff pretty carefully — shows that it is not possible for us to raise the amount of revenue that’s required for a balanced package if all you are relying on is closing deductions and loopholes.

Let me amend that. It is possible to do, theoretically; it is not possible or wise to do as a practical matter. And the reason is, is that in order for us to raise the amount of revenue that’s needed just by closing deductions and loopholes for high earners, we’d have to, for example, eliminate or severely cap the charitable deduction. And folks in this room, you guys are not only CEOs — I can’t imagine there’s a person here who doesn’t sit on a number of non-for-profit boards, university boards, hospital boards. In your respective communities, you are supporting an entire infrastructure that is the glue that holds our communities together. So the notion that somehow we’re going to just eliminate charitable deductions is unlikely.

What that means is, is that any formula that says we can’t increase tax rates probably only yields about $300-$400 billion, realistically. And that’s well short of the amount of revenue that’s needed for a balanced package.

So what we’ve said instead is let’s allow higher rates to go up for the top 2 percent — that includes all of you, yes, but not in any way that’s going to affect your spending, your lifestyles, or the economy in any significant way; let’s make sure that 98 percent of Americans don’t see a single dime in tax increases next year, 97 percent of small businesses don’t see a single dime in tax increases next year — and by doing that alone we raise almost a trillion dollars without any adverse effects on the economy.

Let’s combine that, then, with some additional spending cuts and some long-term entitlement reform that can get us to a number close to $4 trillion, which stabilizes our debt and our deficits relative to GDP for at least a decade, perhaps more.

That’s our plan. That’s what we’ve presented. The holdup right now is that Speaker Boehner took a position I think the day after the campaign that said we’re willing to bring in revenue but we’re not willing to increase rates. And I just explained to you why we don’t think that works. We’re not trying to — we’re not insisting on rates just out of spite or out of any kind of partisan bickering, but rather because we need to raise a certain amount of revenue.

Now, we’ve seen some movement over the last several days among some Republicans. I think there’s a recognition that maybe they can accept some rate increases as long as it’s combined with serious entitlement reform and additional spending cuts. And if we can get the leadership on the Republican side to take that framework, to acknowledge that reality, then the numbers actually aren’t that far apart. Another way of putting this is we can probably solve this in about a week; it’s not that tough. But we need that conceptual breakthrough that says we need to do a balanced plan; that’s what’s best for the economy; that’s what the American people voted for; that’s how we’re going to get it done.

Let me make one last point and then I’ll start taking questions. There had been reports — and these are not necessarily confirmed, and maybe some of you have more insight than I do on this — that perhaps the Republicans go ahead and let the middle-class tax cuts get extended, the upper-income tax cuts go up, otherwise we don’t get a deal, and next year we come back and the thinking is Republicans will have more leverage because there will be another vote on the debt ceiling and we will try to extract more concessions with a stronger hand on the debt ceiling.

I have to just tell you that is a bad strategy for America. It is a bad strategy for our businesses. And it is not a game that I will play.

Most of you were involved in discussions and watched the catastrophe that happened in August of 2011. Everybody here is concerned about uncertainty; there’s no uncertainty like the prospect that the United States of America, the largest economy that holds the world’s reserve currency potentially defaults on its debts; that we give up the basic notion that the United States stands behind its obligations.

And we can’t afford to go there again. And this isn’t just my opinion; it’s the opinion of most of the folks in this room. So when I hear some on the other side suggesting that to resolve the possibility of a perpetual or a quarterly debt ceiling crisis that there is a price to pay — well, the price is paid by the American people and your businesses and the economic environment worldwide. And we should not accept going through that.

John Engler, who is, I think — he and I philosophically don’t agree on much — (laughter) — no, I’m just being honest about John, and he’s a great politician but he — he originally comes from the other party — but John is exactly right when he says the only thing that the debt ceiling is good for as a weapon is just to destroy your credit rating.

So I want to send a very clear message to people here: We are not going to play that game next year. If Congress in any way suggests that they’re going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again as part of a budget negotiation — which, by the way, we had never done in our history until we did it last year — I will not play that game. Because we’ve got to break that habit before it starts.

So, with that, let me just say we’ve got one path where we resolve this fairly quickly — we’ve got some tough spending cuts, we reform our entitlements, we have modest revenue increases; you get business certainty; you do what you do best, innovate, invest, hire workers, make profits, do well by your shareholders and grow America — and we then have open running room next year to deal with a whole host of other issues like information and tax reform and immigration reform that will further make America, Inc. competitive. That’s one option.

The other option is to engage in a self-inflicted series of wounds that will potentially push us back into recession and set back this country, after all the work that we’ve done over the last four years digging ourselves out of a hole.

I know the choice I’d like to make. And I think the BRT can be helpful in making sure that everybody here in Washington makes the right choice.

So with that, let me take some questions. (Applause.)

END
11:14 A.M. EST

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