Political Headlines December 19, 2012: President Barack Obama at Press Conference Urges GOP to ‘Take The Deal’ & Avoid Fiscal Cliff

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Urges GOP to ‘Take The Deal’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-19-12

Alex Wong/Getty Images

With just 12 days until tax increases and steep spending cuts kick in, President Obama on Wednesday urged Republicans to “peel off the partisan war paint” and compromise on a deal to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff.”

Speaking at a White House news conference, Obama told House Republicans to “take the deal” and said it was puzzling that they have not accepted what he described as a “fair” offer.

“They will be able to claim that they have worked with me over the last two years to reduce the deficit more than any other deficit reduction package, that we will have stabilized it for 10 years. That is a significant achievement for them. They should be proud of it. But they keep on finding ways to say no, as opposed to finding ways to say yes,” he said….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 18, 2012: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney on Possible Fiscal Cliff Deal Between President Barack Obama & Speaker John Boehner & Gun-Control Legislation

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 12/18/2012

Source: WH, 12-18-12

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:48 P.M. EST

MR. CARNEY:  Okay.  Welcome to the White House.  I have no announcements.  I am here to answer your questions.

Mr. Feller.

Q    Thanks, Jay.  A lot to cover on the fiscal cliff.  I just want to focus on the tax rates portion.  During the election, repeatedly, and then after the election in his first extended comments the President underscored again his central promise to the American people that tax rates have to go up on households making over $250,000.  In the East Room he said, I’m not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the deficit while people like me making over $200,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.  Now the White House proposal is in fact to let people making up to $400,000 go without a tax increase.  How do you justify that broken promise?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I certainly wouldn’t put it that way.  I would say that the President, demonstrating —

Q    You wouldn’t call it a broken promise?

MR. CARNEY:  — his desire — no, I would not.  I would say that the President, demonstrating his belief that a balanced, large deficit reduction package is a worthwhile goal, has shown evident willingness to meet the Republicans halfway.

If you think about where he started, his initial proposal from his plan that he put forward to the so-called super committee was to achieve a goal of $1.6 trillion in revenue.  He has now come down to $1.2 trillion, as you know.  The Republicans started at $800 trillion and have moved up to $1 trillion.  The President has come halfway.  He hopes that the Republicans will do the same.  That is the essence of compromise, coming halfway.

On revenue, the President has come more than halfway in an effort to try to reach an agreement with the Republicans in the House and broadly in Congress because it’s the right thing to do. But he will not accept a deal that, in order to protect some of the wealthiest Americans from having their taxes go up, shifts the burden unduly onto seniors and the middle class.

So the fact that he’s willing to compromise and have rates go up on those making $400,000 and above, as opposed to $250,000 and above, demonstrates his good-faith effort here to reach a compromise and still have a package that is balanced and asks the wealthiest to pay more, enacts significant spending cuts, and puts us on a fiscally sustainable path.

I mean, the alternative here, if you think about it and the so-called plan B makes no sense.  There is an historic opportunity here to do something that has been set as a goal for a long time in Washington, which is reach a bipartisan compromise on significant deficit reduction on the order of $4 trillion when you take all the pieces of it and put them together.

We are very close to being able to achieve that, and the President has demonstrated an obvious willingness to compromise and to move more than halfway towards the Republicans.  To leave that offer on the table, including the trillion — the $1.22 trillion in spending cuts that the President has put forward because you don’t want to ask someone making $950,000 a year to pay more in taxes would be a shame and it would be bad policy.

So the President believes that the opportunity is there, the parameters of a deal are clear, the path to a compromise is clear, and he hopes that the Republicans will meet him on that path and do something that would be very good for the American people, for the middle class, and for our economy.

Q    Jay, there’s another alternative here, and we’re hearing some of the members of the President’s party say today, which is that for the entire campaign he talked about raising taxes on the top 2 percent.  He said that was the central theme and it was adjudicated in the election.  And you talked about it standing here yesterday, the top 2 percent.  If you go to $400,000, you’re not the top 2 percent, you’re not even the top 1 percent.  It’s less than that.  So isn’t the alternative for him to craft a deal in which he stands by his principle and sticks by his promise?

MR. CARNEY:  The President does have — did have a proposal that we have put forward that achieves that, and in an effort to meet the Republicans halfway he has put forward a proposal that still asks the wealthiest Americans, those, in this case, making over $400,000, to pay more in income taxes.  His overall proposal, by the way, includes other pieces, elements to it to achieve the revenue goal of $1.2 trillion, that includes asking the wealthiest to pay more through cap deductions and other reforms.

But the point I’m making I think is consistent with your question, which is, yes, he has demonstrated a willingness to move towards the Republicans in order to achieve a deal, but do so in a way that maintains his principles.  And the alternative, the fallback, so-called plan B that’s been put out there achieves nothing like what a bigger deal would do and it would — you would lose, by just cutting taxes — by just extending current law for those making under a million dollars, you would lose hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue relative to the decoupling the President has proposed.

And most of that money, or a significant portion of that money if not most, would go to millionaires, because everybody gets — when you extend tax cuts for those making under $250,000 or those making under $400,000, everybody who makes more than that benefits from those tax cuts, right?  If you only extend — if you extend the tax cuts for everybody making up to a million dollars, that means everybody making more than that gets a significant tax cut on their first million dollars in earning.  So millionaires, billionaires, everybody makes a lot of money out of this proposal.

So the proposal essentially is to give another big tax cut to the wealthiest Americans at a time when we cannot afford it.  And that, as you saw in my statement, would not pass the Senate. You saw Leader Pelosi say that Democrats would not vote for it.  It’s not a credible alternative.  If we’re not going to do a grand bargain, a bigger deal, the one that the President seeks, then there’s an option to deal with the tax portion of this that has already passed the Senate that the House ought to take up.  And he would certainly support that as he has said all along.

Q    Last one on this and I’ll let somebody else have a run at this.  You keep making it sound like the choice is between what the President proposed and plan B that Speaker did, but I keep going back to what he said before he was elected and he called the central promise, which was never $250,000 until I win, and then we’ll see what they offer and move the number up.  It was $250,000 —

MR. CARNEY:  But, Ben, I don’t — if you’re making the point that he has —

Q    My point is, can’t — is it the President’s view that he can’t get a big deal unless he goes up?

MR. CARNEY:  I think that’s clear that the Republicans — that this requires compromise, and that’s why we have moved and reduced our revenue target and moved from $250,000 to $400,000.

The point that the President had always made is that it is not his preferred option, but he knew that he would have to compromise in order to reach an agreement without sacrificing the principles that are clear, and that is that we have to have balance.  It has to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay more so that the burden isn’t unduly placed on seniors and students and families who have children with disabilities and others.  And that’s what his current proposal maintains are those principles.
And all told, as you know, the proposal still, with its one-to-one — within this proposal, one-to-one ration of revenues to spending cuts, achieves, combined with the $1.1 trillion that he signed into law in discretionary spending cuts last year, close to $4 trillion in deficit reduction.

And if I could go back to the first point here — Republicans say their goal is to reduce the deficit and to reduce spending.  There is an opportunity on the table here to achieve $1.2 trillion in additional spending cuts.  It seems like folly to walk away from that opportunity because you don’t want to ask somebody making $995,000 a year to pay a dime more in income taxes.  It seems like terrible folly.  And I don’t think the American people would support that.  Certainly the President doesn’t believe that.

Did you have something?

Q    I did.

MR. CARNEY:  It seemed like all your questions had been answered.

Q    They haven’t.

MR. CARNEY:  Okay.

Q    My first question is, are negotiations still active?

MR. CARNEY:  Lines of communication remain open.  The President continues to hope that a compromise can be reached, as I said at the top.  The parameters of a deal are clear.  When you look at the offers, proposals and the counterproposals, a path to an agreement is clear.  And he hopes that the Republicans will join him on that path and achieve this — take advantage of this opportunity and lock in a plan that would achieve significant deficit reduction, would protect the middle class, and would help our economy.  So the answer is lines of communication remain open and we hope that this opportunity is not wasted.

Q    You used that phrase a lot last week.

MR. CARNEY:  And it was always true.

Q    Right, but does that mean you’re talking and negotiations —

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have any specific conversations or meetings to read out to you.  But as was the case in the past, it is the case today that lines of communication remain open and there is an opportunity here.  And you’ve clearly seen the President put forward an offer that represents him moving halfway towards the Republicans on revenue and moving more than halfway to the Republicans on spending cuts as part of a balanced package that still adheres to his principles.  And that’s very important. And we hope that the Republicans understand that it would be a terrible waste to walk away from this opportunity.

Q    We’ve seen some, obviously, progress since yesterday’s briefing; I’d just like to ask the question again:  Has the shooting in Connecticut affected the tone at all, and has it affected the ability for both sides to negotiate?

MR. CARNEY:  These are excellent questions and there’s been some good reporting on this, but it’s obviously hard to know what the impact of an event like that is on the way that lawmakers and others in Washington approach other issues.  As the President said in Newtown, a tragedy as unfathomable, unimaginable as what happened in Newtown reminds us of what really matters.  And he certainly believes that it is his responsibility — and the responsibility of everyone here in Washington — to work together to try to do important things for the American people and the American economy.  And that’s on issues related to gun violence and it’s on issues related to the economy and to people’s livelihoods.

So to the extent that an event like that, as tragic as it is, brings us a little closer together both in the nation and in Washington, that would be a good thing.  But it’s hard to measure an impact like that.

Q    Jay, as an Illinois state legislator, the President supported quite restrictive gun measures, but as President he’s only signed into law legislation that allows guns in National Parks and on Amtrak trains as checked luggage.  Is he reassessing his more recent record on gun control?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the President’s positions have been beyond what you cited — I’m sure that was an oversight — but including his support for reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, his support —

Q    But actions versus words —

MR. CARNEY:  — his support for closing the so-called gun show loophole, which allows people to buy weapons without going through the background checks that are standard when you purchase from a retail —

Q    But I’m talking about what was actually done —

MR. CARNEY:  Let me — could I finish?

Q    — not just what he has said he supports.

MR. CARNEY:  Could I finish?  Could I finish, Brianna?  I appreciate it.  Thanks.

It’s clear that as a nation we haven’t done enough to address the scourge of gun violence in this country.  It’s a complex problem that requires more than one solution.  It calls for not only reexamining our gun laws and how well we enforce them, but also for engaging mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, educators, parents and communities to find those solutions.

And while, as I said, there’s no one answer to this problem, it is clear that we cannot once again retreat to our separate corners and to our stale talking points, because that inevitably leads to an impasse.  That’s why, as I think you saw reported, the President yesterday afternoon had discussions with members of his Cabinet, members of his senior staff and the Vice President to begin looking for ways — or at ways that the country can move forward and respond to the tragedy in Newtown.  And I think that if you look at the Cabinet members the President met with — Secretary Duncan, Attorney General Holder and Secretary Sebelius — they underscore — their participation underscores the comprehensive way in which the President views this problem.

So he will, as he said in Newtown on Sunday night, two nights ago, in coming weeks, engage with the American people; engage with lawmakers, with members of his administration, with mental health professionals, with law enforcement officials, with parents, communities, to try to find answers to this problem.  And that includes his support for legislation that, like the assault weapons ban, that addresses issues of access to guns.  It will include other issues that he thinks are part of the scourge of gun violence.

Q    But is he right now actively considering measures, be it gun laws or mental health measures — right now?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, he is actively supportive of, for example, Senator Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban.  He supports, and would support, legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called gun show loophole.  And there are other elements of gun law — gun legislation that he could support.  People have talked about high-capacity gun — ammunition clips, for example, and that is something certainly that he would be interested in looking at.  My point is that it goes beyond that.

He is heartened, I should mention, by what we have all heard from some members of Congress who have been long-time opponents of gun control measures, common-sense gun control measures like the assault weapons ban and the like.  He, in fact, not long before I came out here was on the phone with Senator Manchin discussing just this issue.

Q    So this sounds like very much a shift from yesterday.  I mean, there were really no specifics yesterday, and today you’re talking about his support for Senator Feinstein’s reinstatement.  You were —

MR. CARNEY:  Brianna, I think I said yesterday that he supported —

Q    Yesterday you were talking about his support for the ban, but you wouldn’t actually say whether he would support Senator Feinstein’s effort.  And today it sounds like you’re saying that he will.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, let me be clear that, again, we are less than 48 hours from the President’s participation in the vigil.

Q    But he supports her legislation initiatives?

MR. CARNEY:  And the President is moving forward, as he said he would, in having discussions here at the White House with members of his team, having discussions moments ago with Senator Manchin and others who have introduced important ideas about how we can move forward and whose decision to break from past positions and — in how they look at this is heartening, and perhaps harbors an opportunity to move forward in a constructive way.  But we are still early in a process.

And I just want to be clear that, in addition to his support for a renewal of the assault weapons ban, which has long been stated and if it does take form in legislation that Senator Feinstein introduces, then that would obviously be something that would win his support, but it goes beyond that.  His view is that we need to address this in a way that, as I said yesterday, acknowledges that no single piece of legislation, no single restriction on access to a certain type of weapon will solve this problem and that we need to address it more broadly.

Q    Sure, but why the change?  Because — I mean, he hadn’t even said “gun” in his public comments.  And then you have, for instance, Republicans like Steve LaTourette talking about a majority of Republicans — this is what he told us today — being open to discussing gun control.  Did the President feel like he was behind on this?

MR. CARNEY:  I think you’re trying to turn this into, like, a political theater thing.  That’s not how the President views it.  He went to Newtown in his role as President and met with family members of victims.  He met with first responders and with others in that community, and then he spoke to that community, and tried to convey the grief and the pain that the American people are feeling and share with those who are suffering so deeply in Connecticut.

And at that time he spoke about the fact that we cannot tolerate these kinds of tragedies and that we have to act, and it would be unforgivable not to try to take steps that address the problem, that address our fundamental responsibility to take care of our children in the first instance.  And he is, as he said and true to his word, moving forward on that process.  And the conversation he had — the meeting he had yesterday, the conversation I just mentioned with the Senator from West Virginia and other conversations he will have going forward will reflect the approach that he’s taking.

He does want to move.  As he said on Sunday night, he wants to move in the coming weeks, which is a fairly short period of time.  And while he supports, and strongly, renewal of the assault weapons ban, and strongly other measures, he wants to expand the conversation beyond those specific areas of legislation to look at other ways we can address this problem.

Let me move in the back.  Sam.

Q    Yes, Jay, a lot of top Democrats on the Hill, and I think President Obama, spent the campaign season saying, let’s not touch Social Security — it doesn’t add to the deficit; we can resolve this issue without going to that entitlement program. What is the President’s message to those lawmakers who promised constituents that Social Security would not be touched after the President now has put chain CPI on the table for Republicans?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, let’s be clear about one thing:  The President didn’t put it on the table.  This is something that Republicans want.  And it is —

Q    But the Republicans —

MR. CARNEY:  — part of his — if I could please answer Sam’s question, I’d appreciate it.  And the President did include it in his counterproposal, his counteroffer, as part of this process, as part of the negotiation process.  I would note that this is a technical change — would be if instated — to the way that economists calculate inflation, and it would affect every program that has — that uses the CPI in its calculations.  And so it’s not directed at one particular program; it would affect every program that uses CPI.  There are also — as part of the President’s proposals, he would make sure that the most vulnerable were exempted out from this change.

But let’s be clear, this is something that the Republicans have asked for, and as part of an effort to find common ground with the Republicans, the President has agreed to put this in his proposal — agreed to have this as part of a broad deficit reduction package that includes asking the wealthiest to pay more so that we can achieve the kind of revenue targets that are necessary for a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Q    Right, but there’s a lot — again, my question was there’s a lot of people who voted for these lawmakers on a promise that —

MR. CARNEY:  You heard the President say every time he talked about this —

Q    Can I finish my question?

MR. CARNEY:  Sure, yes.

Q    A lot of people — I’ll let you answer — a lot of people voted for these lawmakers for reelection not too long ago on a promise that Social Security wouldn’t be touched, and if it was touched, it would be done separately from these fiscal cliff negotiations.  What do those people — what are these people now supposed to believe about the promises that their lawmakers made, including the President?

MR. CARNEY:  Let me again make clear two things.  One, the President has always said as part of this process when we’re talking about the spending cuts side of this that it would require tough choices by both sides.  And that is certainly the case if you want to reach an agreement.

Secondly, this is a technical adjustment that supporters of it and economists — outside economists say is meant to make the government’s estimates of inflation more accurate.  Thirdly, as part of the President’s proposal, there is a clause that would protect vulnerable communities including the very elderly when it comes to Social Security recipients.

So there’s no question that it represents an effort to compromise, but it is also not — this is a technical adjustment that economists believe is about getting the proper measure of inflation, and it is one sought by Republicans.

So, again, we’re not going to get everything we want.  We knew that the President’s proposal that he put forward to the super committee that we put forward in the beginning of these negotiations would not pass unchanged.  But I think your question demonstrates the absolute fact that the President has shown enormous good faith in trying to reach a compromise here.  And it would be shocking if Republicans passed up this opportunity for what they say they seek, which is significant deficit reduction, significant spending cuts, simply to protect those just shy of being millionaires from having to pay a dime extra in income taxes.

Chuck.

Q    Do you acknowledge the Speaker’s criticism of the counterproposal yesterday that it really isn’t one to one —

MR. CARNEY:  I do not.

Q    — because the saved interest payment is not a spending cut?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I find that an interesting charge because every budget proposal that’s been made since we’ve been here includes interest payments as spending cuts when they’re reduced. The Bowles-Simpson proposal included it.

Q    Well, nobody disputes that it’s part of deficit reduction, but this idea of one to one on tax hikes to a spending cut —

MR. CARNEY:  Again, when they — in the Budget Control Act and their assertions that they wanted one to one, it was only achievable — only achievable — because they counted saved interest as spending cut.  So a practice that they participated in regularly up until this moment to abandon now, to say that it doesn’t represent one-to-one spending cuts for revenue, is just  — doesn’t pass the plausibility test.

The fact is that spending on interest payments is one of the big problems that we face when it comes to our budget deficits, and reducing those payments is a significant achievement when it comes to reducing spending.  So including those reductions as part of the overall reductions in spending is in keeping with past practice by both Republicans and Democrats, including the Speaker of the House, including House Republican leadership, past practice as represented in the Simpson-Bowles proposal and other proposals that have been out there.

So I do reject that charge that somehow that this is a novelty that doesn’t represent actual savings, because that has always been the practice, including by the Republicans who are now complaining about it.

Q    So at 10 o’clock this morning, 9 o’clock this morning, the markets open; they all see the different proposals the President has given on the CPI and Social Security, Boehner’s given on tax rates over a million dollars.  And the public up on Wall Street and the business community sees — oh, look, they’re about to come to a deal.  Boehner puts out his plan B, and you guys decide to publicly go after it.  Why?  Why antagonize the situation?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, what the Speaker —

Q    I’m just curious.  You guys — on one hand, you don’t want to negotiate through the press; this clearly is a decision to negotiate through the press.

MR. CARNEY:  No.  The Speaker also made clear that he has not abandoned hope for a bigger deal, and that we see as a good thing.  And we certainly have not either.  And I think our objections to plan B is simply to point that it is such a far cry from what’s possible here — and not only that, it wouldn’t pass the Senate, it wouldn’t get any Democratic votes in the House, might not pass the House.

Q    But you seem to be intent on sending that message when that’s a way of antagonizing the situation, isn’t it?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’m certainly not trying to antagonize the —

Q    Are you trying to disrupt talks?  Make it harder?

MR. CARNEY:  Absolutely not.  Absolutely not.  I think that we would — we, as I said at the beginning — and let me make clear, that I’m — the President hopes that Speaker Boehner and others remain open to what is a clear path to achieve a bipartisan compromise here.  And in the details that have come out about the President’s proposal, I think it is clear that he has demonstrated good faith and a willingness to meet Speaker Boehner and the Republicans halfway in an effort to achieve what would be a very significant agreement that would be of benefit both to the middle class and to the economy.

Q    — move further.  It was pretty clear from talking to some Democrats that that wasn’t your final offer.

MR. CARNEY:  Look, I think that a path to a legitimate, balanced compromise is clear.  But the room for movement here is not large, because the President’s principles are what they are and the President has already moved exactly halfway on revenue and more than halfway on spending cuts.  So that is by definition what compromise is about — I’ll meet you halfway.  The President is here.  Republicans are here.  The President has come halfway, maybe a little bit more.  Republicans have come about this far.  So we’re close.

The President has demonstrated his reasonableness.  And his principles here are ones that are broadly supported by the American public.  So he hopes that we can get this deal.

My point about plan B is that it’s not a great alternative. It’s not a great fallback.

Q    Your plan B?  Do you think your plan is a good alternative?

MR. CARNEY:  We would prefer a bigger —

Q    — good alternative, your plan B, the $250,000 —

MR. CARNEY:  One, it’s already passed the Senate.  So if we —

Q    Why are you so sure the other one doesn’t pass the Senate?  Has Harry Reid assured you he just won’t put it on the floor?

MR. CARNEY:  I think Senator Reid has said that it wouldn’t pass the Senate.  The point is —

Q    Would he put the —

MR. CARNEY:  Again, you should speak with Senator Reid about Senate procedure and upcoming actions.  But the point is neither of these options is preferable to a balanced, broad deficit reduction package, which would be healthy, good for the economy, good for the American people, would protect the middle class as we move forward.

The President has said now for months that at the very least the House ought to follow the Senate’s action and pass tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people.  That bill is there.  It could be passed tomorrow.  We have always sought more than that. We have always sought the opportunity to achieve significant deficit reduction, because it’s good for the economy if it’s done well and right, and in a way that’s fair and balanced.

Let me move around.  Yes, Leslie.

Q    Jay, can you comment at all on the Pentagon? Investigators have concluded that a senior defense official has  leaked restricted information to the makers of the bin Laden film.  Peter King’s office is out and says they’re quite troubled by it.

MR. CARNEY:  I have seen those reports, but I can only refer you to the Pentagon.  I don’t have anything on it from here.

Q    But the fact that it went beyond and into a criminal investigation seems to suggest that it’s a little bit worse than you had led us to believe.  I think King’s office said that it’s an indication that our security was placed at risk by people who wanted to help Hollywood make a movie.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, first of all, I think that that’s not — your memory of the discussions that we had from here had to do with charges by that Congressman and others about White House — what the White House’s role in informing people who are doing stories on or other things on the bin Laden raid was.  Again, on this particular matter, I would refer you to the Pentagon.  I just don’t have anything for you on it.

Ed.

Q    If Speaker Boehner’s idea of just taxing people making a million dollars or more is so bad and unbalanced, why did the President propose that in September of 2011 — he had the millionaire’s tax, when he came out in the Rose Garden?

MR. CARNEY:  First of all, that’s an entirely different proposal.  The President has always supported expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts for those making more than $250,000.  That is a position he has held since the time he took office.

There have been other proposals including the so-called Buffett Rule that would address the problem of millionaires and billionaires not paying, for example — and this goes to other — this goes beyond issues of income tax, because one of the reasons why the Buffett Rule, for example, was something the President supports — supported and supports — is because we have the issue of carried interests, which enables billionaires to pay a lower tax rate if they’re hedge fund managers or private equity investors, to pay at a much lower rate than probably you and I pay.

Q    The New York Times at the time said, “his idea” — the President’s idea — “of a millionaire’s minimum tax would be prominent in the broad plan for long-term deficit reduction that he will outline at the White House.”  So the President thought that a millionaire’s tax was —

MR. CARNEY:  You’re really confusing policies here.  The fact that you support a minimum tax for millionaires tax rate does not alter the fact that you also support returning tax rates for those making under a million dollars to what they were prior to the Bush-era tax cuts.  I think that has been established many times.

Q    Senator Schumer brought that up for a vote in 2010 —

MR. CARNEY:  It was actually a different — you really need to check your —

Q    There’s a lot of different versions of it —

MR. CARNEY:  Well, no, but —

Q    It was a million-dollar threshold is the point.

MR. CARNEY:  On the tax rates.  Again, you’re confusing a lot of different tax proposals.  And our position then is what it is now, which is that we support expiration of the tax cuts for the top 2 percent.  In his proposal for a bigger package with the Republicans, he has agreed to move that threshold from $250,000 to $400,000.

What we do know, instead of talking about things that got votes two years ago in the Senate, is that two months ago the Senate passed a bill that extends tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people — tax cuts that everyone in Washington, Republicans and Democrats alike say they support, and that the House, if it fails to do anything else, has the opportunity to pass that legislation to ensure that most Americans out there don’t have their taxes go up next year.  The only thing preventing them from that when you look at the proposals here is their insistence thus far on the idea that people making $995,000 should not have their income tax rates go up.

Q    Quick question on another subject.  There’s this 27-year-old former Marine who, as you know, is in a Mexican prison. His family is urging the administration to do something about it. We don’t know all the facts of the case and what he did, what he didn’t do, but his family is asking the White House to look into it.  Is there anything going on to ascertain the facts to see whether he’s innocent or not?  Because again we don’t know what really happened.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’ll have to take the question because I don’t know the facts myself on that, so I’ll have to take the question.

Jake.

Q    The President’s close friend and advisor, David Axelrod, on Sunday evening, after watching the President’s speech was watching a football game, and an ad came on for a violent video game, and he tweeted, shouldn’t we quit — he tweeted an expression of support for banning certain kinds of weapons or regulating certain kinds of weapons, but then he said shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game.  And this touches on the cultural aspect that you seem to be alluding to also being part of the solution.  And I’m wondering if the President has any views on it, because we haven’t really heard him talk that much about these cultural issues in his time as President.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I was asked about this — well, I have seen reports on it, and I don’t have any proposals to tell you that the President thinks or we think should be moved on.  I think that there are cultural issues — and every expert on this issue would, I think, agree with that — that there are cultural issues that contribute to the broader problem with gun violence.

One of the reasons why the President wants to expand the net beyond considerations of gun laws is because he recognizes that and agrees with it that we need to look broadly at all of the potential contributors to the scourge of gun violence in this country.

So on that particular area of inquiry, I don’t have a specific proposal to tell you about, or even that there will be one.  But it’s certainly — he wants to have these conversations with people who have worked on this issue and people who are affected by it to explore all the possibilities, to move forward with a broad approach that addresses gun violence, that includes sensible legislation to deal with things like assault weapons and gun show loopholes, magazine capacity, potentially, as well as other issues — mental health issues, education issues, and perhaps cultural issues.

Q    Speaking of mental health issues, the National Alliance for Mental Illness — or of Mental Illness reports that during the recession states trimming their budgets cut almost $2 billion from mental health services.  This seems to be an area where the President could take immediate action, working with Congress to help fill the gap of the — for those states.  Has the President — is he aware of this statistic?

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not sure if he’s aware of this statistic.  The issue of mental health is something that both the President and others in this administration who have broadly addressed health care issues, including Secretary Sibelius, believes is very important.  And that is why the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, contains within it assurances that those who will gain coverage that they have not had in the past will gain medical health services, including a set of services that will be available without copays or deductibles.  Because mental health issues are health issues, and the President believes that firmly.

Again, in terms of potential areas that could be addressed through action at the federal level or at the state level, he wants to hear about proposals that might help address this problem.  It is, as he said, an issue that the mental health aspect of this is an important aspect.

Q    According to the book by Daniel Klaidman, from Newsweek, the Daily Beast, about the Obama administration, in the first year of the Obama administration, Attorney General Holder was going to take action regulating guns, and the President’s Chief of Staff told him to shut up — he actually added a couple of words in there — about guns.  The issue being the fact that there were a number of Democrats in vulnerable districts where gun rights were popular that would — politically it was not wise.  Does the President know about this?  Does the President regret that that took place?  Has Attorney General Holder been told since Aurora or Fort Hood or Sikh Temple or Newtown or any of the other many, many shootings that have taken place while Mr. Obama has been President, has Mr. Holder been told to resume what he was planning on doing before the White House Chief of Staff told him to stop?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, that’s an anecdote that I’m not familiar with.

Q    It was reported —

MR. CARNEY:  — I know the author.  I confess from the podium that I didn’t read his book.  But the —

Q    Does that mean it didn’t happen?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t know, so I certainly haven’t had a discussion with the President about it.  I can tell you that the President believes, as he, I think, made very clear on Sunday night, and as I reiterated both yesterday and today, that we have not done enough as a country to address this problem and we need to do more, and that what happened in Newtown hopefully will catalyze the process of doing more.  And he will use the power of his office to move that along.  And that has begun already with the conversations he’s had here internally with — a conversation that he had today with one senator, I’m sure he’ll have with other lawmakers.

And as I think we’ve heard from a number of people both in Washington and elsewhere, the enormity of what happened on Friday I think has caused everyone — or many people to reassess where we are when it comes to the ways that we address this problem, and hopefully that that reassessment will lead to action.

Q    But, Jay, why are these conversations not taking place on a national level?  Why are —

MR. CARNEY:  Jake, can I just remind you that the shooting happened four days ago.

Q    This one did, Jay.  But there have been a lot that have taken place over the last four years.  It’s not as though gun violence became a problem on Friday.

MR. CARNEY:  I completely agree with that.  And I can only  —

Q    But it’s as though you’re completely oblivious to the fact that there have been shootings for years.

MR. CARNEY:  That’s not true.  I mean, the President — it is a fact that we have taken action — and the Department of Justice can fill you in on this — to enhance background checks. And background checks — when we talk about the fundamental issue of making sure that those who should not have weapons do not acquire them or cannot acquire them, enhancing our background check system is an important step that addresses specifically the problem.

So it is the case that we have taken action in this President’s first term.  And he made clear on Sunday evening that he believes we need to take more action.  And he looks forward to working with Congress and working with communities beyond Washington to help bring that about.

Peter.

Q    Jay, the President said and you’ve repeated that the nation has not done enough.  It sounds like what — previous Presidents used the formulation “mistakes were made,” sort of a passive construction.  Is he saying that he thinks that he has not done enough as President, personally?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think he made clear on Sunday that we as a nation, and he as a member and leader of this nation need to do more; that we cannot tolerate these kinds of tragic incidents. And he committed himself in the coming weeks to taking steps that use the power of his office to help try to bring about changes that will address this problem, recognizing the complexity of the problem and the obstacles to potential solutions to the problem.

He also said — and it’s important to remember that he said this — if whatever action we take saves one child’s life, we should take it, because what would we say to ourselves if we haven’t.  And then I think that recognizes, again, that this is a problem that cannot be solved by a single action or necessarily even a series of actions, but it should be and can be addressed.
Q    Big part of the question is, does he regret — it’s one thing to regret that Congress hasn’t done what he thinks they ought to do.  But does he regret that he hasn’t done something that he wishes now, in light of Friday, that he had done prior to that?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t heard him say it in terms other than the way he said it on Sunday night.  And I think you heard from him in a very passionate way what his reaction is to Newtown, and his reaction to Newtown as part of a series of events and incidents like it that have occurred since he’s been President, and that on too many occasions he has been in the situation that he was in in Newtown of consoling family members who have lost innocent loved ones in events like this.  So I think he spoke very passionately about his views on this and the fact that we need to take action.

Q    And one quick question.  If this compromise were to go forward that the President’s proposed, the $400,000 be the cutoff — would that be it?  Or would the President still, at some point at a later date as part of some future negotiations and future legislative initiative, try again at $250,000?  Is this the end of it from his perspective, or just one —

MR. CARNEY:  Well, he seeks, as part of this process, to make permanent tax cuts for those making below the threshold.  It is also in his proposal to fast-track processes for both corporate and individual tax reform.  But the revenue achieved through a potential compromise here, at least the one that he put forward, would be locked in, and then the reform would be essentially revenue-neutral.

How that plays out in terms of tax rates would obviously be up to those who negotiate it and worked on the tax reform in that fast track process, both on the Hill and working with administration officials.

Q    So he’s not closing off the possibility of raising rates at some later date —

MR. CARNEY:  Well, again, he’s not — his proposal here is to achieve the revenue that would be gained from extending tax cuts permanently for those making under $400,000, allowing rates to rise to their Clinton-era levels for those making above $400,000.  There are a series of other pieces of his revenue proposal that deal with some reform measures, like capping deductions and other issues, and then there would be a separate or additional tax reform process that is something that both sides have sought in a so-called two-stage deal.

But the revenue achieved — the $1.2 trillion in revenue part of this proposal would be achieved at the outset.  Then the reform process could go forward.

Major, and then Roger.

Q    You may accuse me of being unduly mathematical.  I’m  not trying to be unduly mathematical.

MR. CARNEY:  I want to be wowed by your numbers.

Q    No, no, it has nothing to do with numbers, but I asked you yesterday if there was any task force work.  Obviously, there was a meeting yesterday on this subject post-Newtown.  So if it’s possible to convey to the nation after that meeting and in the intervening days since, proportionally, does the President view this as mostly a gun-control issue, or a 50-50 gun control, mental health, personal responsibility?  And can you give the nation a sense that whatever he proposes, whenever he proposes it, will be inclusive of all of those things?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think that’s a good question and I appreciate it.  The President believes that there are multiple elements that need to be addressed that are part of the problem of gun violence.  And as any expert on this subject I think would tell you gun laws would not alone solve this problem and he recognizes that.  He would, however, support and has supported some gun control legislation like the assault weapons ban, like closure of the gun show loophole.

What the proportion is, is hard to say, but I think you break it down to issues of law enforcement, issues of — and then law enforcement can mean not just gun legislation, but other issues of law enforcement, obviously, like background checks and the like.  Then there’s mental health and broader health care issues.  There’s education issues.  I think those are three pockets; whether that’s 33, 33, 33 is hard to say.

But it is simply a fact that legislation that addresses access to certain types of weapons or magazines or how we perform background checks, while they have merit and the President supports the ones that I’ve mentioned, would not alone address this problem.  What I can’t tell you — to go to the second part of your question — is what the rollout of the President’s ideas, what form that will take, whether it will be things of — pieces of legislation that exist that he supports and has made that clear, I have also, or other things that might come up that he supports.

I think at some point you’ll hear from him more broadly on this issue, but I don’t have a timeframe for you on that.  So this is a process that has just begun and includes the meeting he had yesterday.  But beyond that, I just don’t have more for you.

Q    All right, more mathematics.  Based on briefings here and reaction from the Hill, there are some differences, but the revenue differences, which heretofore have been a significant impediment, are down to $1.2 trillion versus $1 trillion.  And there are a lot of other issues, I acknowledge that.  My question to you is, does this bill, and does the President believe there is an intrinsic, larger value to resolving this during this week as the country mourns a larger national tragedy in providing some evidence that all the rhetoric about the future of the children and everything else has actual meaning as related to our fiscal future?

MR. CARNEY:  I hesitate to make grand pronouncements about the connection that some of you have made between what happened in Connecticut and other work that is taking place here.  I do think that the President —

Q    But you know and I know —

MR. CARNEY:  No, I understand —

Q    — here that it reverberates.

MR. CARNEY:  It certainly does.  And I think that at its core, tragedies like that at their core bring us as Americans together in our grief, and in our resolve, and in our neighborliness.  They remind us of all that we share as opposed to the differences that we have.

And out of the ashes of a tragedy like that, as the President I think spoke to in Newtown, we should take heart from that — from the spirit of the community there, the spirit of communities that have been affected elsewhere.  When first responders rush into a situation like that to try to save lives, nobody is thinking about political differences.  So I think that any reminder of what binds us together is helpful and useful as we try to do the country’s business here.  I think the President —

Q    Would you acknowledge it has catalyzed the process?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I just don’t know because I can’t speak to everyone’s motivations.  I think that —

Q    Does the President think it’s catalyzed the process?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, he has been committed to this process for a long time.  He has been committed to seeking a broad deficit-reduction deal, one that protects the middle class, one that achieves balance and is good for our economy.

It is certainly — I think the events in Connecticut are a reminder to him, as he spoke about in Newtown, of what’s most important in our lives, what our greatest responsibilities are.  And if to the extent that that is a motivation to do more and do better for all of us, I think, then that’s worth recognizing.

Roger, I think I said I’d call on you.

Q    In the Biden meeting yesterday on guns, did the President give the Vice President a specific due date for this report or recommendations?

MR. CARNEY:  No.  And I don’t have a further readout of the meeting that included not just the Vice President, but the secretaries — Cabinet Secretaries that I mentioned and some senior staff here at the White House.  It’s the beginning of a process where they’re looking for — we will look for ways to address this problem in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown.

Q    And one other quick follow-up on chained CPI.  You said the most vulnerable would be exempted out.  What do you mean by that?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don’t have the technical details for you.  But this is something that can be and has been done before in an effort to make sure that — one example, the oldest of Social Security recipients would be potentially protected from the impact of a change like this.  But I don’t have more details for you on that.

Q    Jay, to be determined, in other words?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, there are processes that this has been done in the past and can be done.

Q    I guess what threw me was when you said “exempted out.”  It means they would be taken off —

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I appreciate the question, because it gives me the opportunity to refine my language — because I think what I meant to say is that there would be protections for most vulnerable populations and perhaps “exempted out” is not the proper way to describe it.

Q    Jay, does the President have concerns about the dramatic increase, the upsurge in weapons sales just obviously based on the specter of the prospect of new gun control laws?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t asked him about that.  I think that’s a phenomenon we’ve seen in the past.  But I haven’t got a response from him for you.

Q    Would he like to see retailers — as one, at least one already has — voluntarily stop selling the type of weapon that was used in Newtown?

MR. CARNEY:  I haven’t had that discussion with him either.  I know that he supports some legislation that we’ve already talked about and is certainly interested in hearing about other ideas and other possible proposals, mindful of the fact that gun control legislation alone will not sufficiently address this problem.

Thanks very much.

END
1:42 P.M. EST

Political Headlines December 17, 2012: President Barack Obama, White House Make New Offer to Speaker John Boehner in Talks To Avoid Fiscal Cliff — Deal Close

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

White House Makes New Offer in Talks To Avoid Fiscal Cliff

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-17-12

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

They are getting closer.

The White House presented a new offer to Speaker of the House John Boehner Monday that makes some important concessions in the talks to work out a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a mixture of tax rate hikes and spending cuts that go into effect in January if a deficit reduction agreement is not reached. This White House package comes in response to the offer Boehner made to allow tax rates rise on those making $1 million.

The new offer from the White House includes fewer tax increases and more limits on the entitlement spending — including limits on cost of living adjustments for Social Security recipients — than the President’s previous offers.

Speaker of the House John Boehner will present this latest White House offer to House Republicans Tuesday morning. Here are some of the key concessions….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 17, 2012: President Barack Obama & Speaker John Boehner Meet Again, Seek End to Fiscal Cliff Stalemate

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama and Boehner Meet Again, Seek End to Fiscal Cliff Stalemate

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-17-12

File photo. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met again at the White House Monday to continue their discussion about avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.

The meeting lasted approximately 45 minutes, the White House said. Upon returning to the Capitol, Boehner kept quiet as he made his way through a small scrum of reporters, ignoring all questions….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 16, 2012: In Fiscal Cliff Talks, Speaker John Boehner Gives on Some Higher Rates in Exchange for Entitlement Cuts

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

In Fiscal Cliff Talks, Boehner Gives on Some Higher Rates in Exchange for Entitlement Cuts

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-16-12

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Imags

Sources familiar with negotiations say that in a phone call on Friday afternoon House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, offered President Obama a deal including letting tax rates expire for those who make over $1 million a year, contingent upon significant entitlement spending cuts and reforms.

One specific example would be savings achieved by slowing the growth of Social Security.

Essentially Boehner offered $1 trillion in revenue over ten years, and somewhere between $1 trillion and $1.2 trillion in spending cuts….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 13, 2012: Speaker John Boehner & President Barack Obama Meet at White House; No ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Yet

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner, Obama Meet at White House; No ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Yet

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-14-12

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

House Speaker John Boehner was invited to the White House Thursday afternoon for another meeting with President Obama on ways to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff.”

The 50-minute face-to-face meeting was described as a frank and candid exchange of views.  There has been no indication that any decision or agreement has been reached….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 13, 2012: President Barack Obama & Speaker John Boehner Impasse on ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Threatens Holiday, Sandy Relief

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama, Boehner Impasse on ‘Cliff’ Threatens Holiday, Sandy Relief

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-13-12

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner just can’t seem to break through an impasse in their “fiscal cliff” talks, increasing pessimism about a deal by Christmas and now threatening to sidetrack billions in federal aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

After weeks of public posturing and private negotiations, both sides remain firmly dug in with their opposing positions on tax hikes and spending cuts for deficit reduction….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 10, 2012: President Barack Obama Speech on the Fiscal Cliff, Economy and Middle-Class Tax Cuts at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant, Redford, Michigan

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Talks About “the Idea that Built America”

Source: WH, 12-10-12

President Obama Tours the Detroit Diesel Facility, Dec. 10, 2012.President Barack Obama watches as workers explain the process of assembling connecting rods and pistons during a tour of the Detroit Diesel Facility in Redford, Mich., Dec. 10, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama was in Detroit today to talk about the economy — how companies are reinvesting in American workers and why it’s so important to extend tax cuts for middle class families.

“I believe America only succeeds and thrives when we’ve got a strong and growing middle class,” he said to the crowd at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant. “I believe we’re at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead; that they can get a job that pays the bills; that they’ve got health care that they can count on; that they can retire with dignity and respect, maybe take a vacation once in a while — nothing fancy, just being able to pack up the kids and go someplace and enjoy time with people that you love; make sure that your kids can go to a good school; make sure they can aspire to whatever they want to be. That idea is what built America.”

Remarks by the President at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant, Redford, MI

President Obama Speaks on the Economy and Middle-Class Tax Cuts

President Obama Speaks on the Economy and Middle-Class Tax Cuts

Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant
Redford, Michigan

2:29 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Redford!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Michigan.  (Applause.)  How is everybody doing today? (Applause.)

Now, let me just start off by saying we have something in common — both our teams lost yesterday.  (Laughter.)  I mean, I would like to come here and talk a little smack about the Bears, but we didn’t quite get it done.  But it is wonderful to be back. It is good to see everybody in the great state of Michigan.  (Applause.)

A few people I want to acknowledge — first of all, the Mayor of Detroit here — Dave Bing is in the house.  (Applause.) We’ve got the Redford Supervisor — Tracey Schultz Kobylarz.  (Applause.)  We’ve got some outstanding members of Congress who are here — please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Martin for hosting us.  I want to thank Jeff and Gibby for giving me a great tour of the factory.  (Applause.) I’ve got to say I love coming to factories.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you.  (Applause.)

So in addition to seeing the best workers in the world — (applause) — you’ve also got all this cool equipment.  (Laughter.)  I wanted to try out some of the equipment, but Secret Service wouldn’t let me.  (Laughter.)  They said, you’re going to drop something on your head, hurt yourself.  (Laughter.) They were worried I’d mess something up.  And Jeff and Gibby may not admit it, but I think they were pretty happy the Secret Service wouldn’t let me touch the equipment.  (Laughter.)

Now, it’s been a little over a month since the election came to an end.  (Applause.)  So it’s now safe for you to turn your televisions back on.  (Laughter.)  All those scary political ads are off the air.  You can answer your phone again — nobody is calling you in the middle of dinner asking for your support.  But, look, I have to admit there’s one part of the campaign that I miss, and that is it is a great excuse for me to get out of Washington and come to towns like this and talk to the people who work so hard every day and are looking out for their families and are in their communities, and just having a conversation about what kind of country do we want to be; what kind of country do we want to leave behind for our kids.  Because ultimately, that’s what this is about.

And I believe — and I’ve been saying this not just for the last six months or the last year, but ever since I got into public office — I believe America only succeeds and thrives when we’ve got a strong and growing middle class.  (Applause.)  That’s what I believe.  I believe we’re at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead; that they can get a job that pays the bills; that they’ve got health care that they can count on; that they can retire with dignity and respect, maybe take a vacation once in a while — nothing fancy, just being able to pack up the kids and go someplace and enjoy time with people that you love; make sure that your kids can go to a good school; make sure they can aspire to whatever they want to be.

That idea is what built America.  That’s the idea that built Michigan.  That’s the idea that’s at the heart of the economic plan I’ve been talking about all year long on the campaign trail. I want to give more Americans the chance to earn the skills that businesses are looking for right now, and give our kids the kind of education they need to succeed in the 21st century.  I want to make sure America leads the world in research and technology and clean energy.  I want to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools.  (Applause.)  That’s how we grow an economy.

I want us to bring down our deficits, but I want to do it in a balanced, responsible way.  And I want to reward — I want a tax code that rewards businesses and manufacturers like Detroit Diesel right here, creating jobs right here in Redford, right here in Michigan, right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  That’s where we need to go.  That’s the country we need to build.  And when it comes to bringing manufacturing back to America — that’s why I’m here today.

Since 1938, Detroit Diesel has been turning out some of the best engines in the world.  (Applause.)  Over all those years, generations of Redford workers have walked through these doors.  Not just to punch a clock.  Not just to pick up a paycheck.  Not just to build an engine.  But to build a middle-class life for their families; to earn a shot at the American Dream.

For seven and a half decades, through good times and bad,  through revolutions in technology that sent a lot of good jobs — manufacturing jobs — overseas, men and women like you, your parents, maybe even your grandparents, have done your part to build up America’s manufacturing strength.  That’s something you can all be proud of.  And now you’re writing a new proud chapter to that history.  Eight years ago, you started building axles here alongside the engines.  That meant more work.  That meant more jobs.  (Applause.)  So you started seeing products — more products stamped with those three proud words:  Made in America.
Today, Daimler is announcing a new $120 million investment into this plant, creating 115 good, new union jobs building transmissions and turbochargers right here in Redford — (applause) — 115 good new jobs right here in this plant, making things happen.  That is great for the plant.  It’s great for this community.  But it’s also good for American manufacturing.  Soon, you guys will be building all the key parts that go into powering a heavy-duty truck, all at the same facility.  Nobody else in America is doing that.  Nobody else in North America is doing that.

And by putting everything together in one place, under one roof, Daimler engineers can design each part so it works better with the others.  That means greater fuel efficiency for your trucks.  It means greater savings for your customers.  That’s a big deal.  And it’s just the latest example of Daimler’s leadership on this issue.

Last year, I was proud to have your support when we announced the first-ever national fuel-efficiency standards for commercial trucks, which is going to help save consumers money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  That’s good news.  (Applause.)

But here’s the other reason why what you guys are doing, what Daimler is doing, is so important.  For a long time, companies, they weren’t always making those kinds of investments here in the United States.  They weren’t always investing in American workers.  They certainly weren’t willing to make them in the U.S. auto industry.

Remember, it was just a few years ago that our auto industry was on the verge of collapse.  GM, Chrysler were all on the brink of failure.  And if they failed, the suppliers and distributors that get their business from those companies, they would have died off, too.  Even Ford could have gone down — production halted.  Factories shuttered.  Once proud companies chopped up and sold off for scraps.  And all of you — the men and women who built these companies with your own hands  — would have been hung out to dry.  And everybody in this community that depends on you — restaurant owners, storekeepers, bartenders — (laughter and applause) — their livelihoods would have been at stake, too.

So I wasn’t about to let that happen.  I placed my bet on American workers.  We bet on American ingenuity.  I’d make that same bet any day of the week.  (Applause.)  Three and a half years later, that bet is paying off.  This industry has added over a quarter of a million new jobs.  Assembly lines are humming again.  The American auto industry is back.

And companies like Daimler know you’re still a smart bet.  They could have made their investment somewhere else, but they didn’t.  And if you ask them whether it was a tough call, they’ll tell you it wasn’t even close.  So the word is going out all around the world:  If you want to find the best workers in the world, if you want to find the best factories in the world, if you want to build the best cars or trucks or any other product in the world, you should invest in the United States of America.  This is the place to be.  (Applause.)

See, you’re starting to see the competitive balance is tipping a little bit.  Over the past few years, it’s become more expensive to do business in countries like China.  Our workers have become even more productive.  Our energy costs are starting to go down here in the United States.  And we still have the largest market.  So when you factor in everything, it makes sense to invest here, in America.

And that’s one of the reasons why American manufacturing is growing at the fastest pace since the 1990s.  And thanks in part to that boost in manufacturing, four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, our economy is growing again. Our businesses have created more than 5.5 million new jobs over the past 33 months.  So we’re making progress.  (Applause.)  We’re moving in the right direction.  We’re going forward.

So what we need to do is simple.  We need to keep going.  We need to keep going forward.  We should do everything we can to keep creating good middle-class jobs that help folks rebuild security for their families.  (Applause.)  And we should do everything we can to encourage companies like Daimler to keep investing in American workers.

And by the way, what we shouldn’t do — I just got to say this — what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions.  (Applause.)  We shouldn’t be doing that.  (Applause.)  These so-called “right to work” laws, they don’t have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics.  (Applause.) What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money.  (Applause.)

You only have to look to Michigan — where workers were instrumental in reviving the auto industry — to see how unions have helped build not just a stronger middle class but a stronger America.  (Applause.)  So folks from our state’s capital, all the way to the nation’s capital, they should be focused on the same thing.  They should be working to make sure companies like this manufacturer is able to make more great products.  That’s what they should be focused on.  (Applause.)  We don’t want a race to the bottom.  We want a race to the top.  (Applause.)

America is not going to compete based on low-skill, low-wage, no workers’ rights.  That’s not our competitive advantage. There’s always going to be some other country that can treat its workers even worse.  Right?

AUDIENCE:  Right!

THE PRESIDENT:  What’s going to make us succeed is we got the best workers — well trained, reliable, productive, low turnover, healthy.  That’s what makes us strong.  And it also is what allows our workers then to buy the products that we make because they got enough money in their pockets.  (Applause.)

So we’ve got to get past this whole situation where we manufacture crises because of politics.  That actually leads to less certainty, more conflict, and we can’t all focus on coming together to grow.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s right!

THE PRESIDENT:  And the same thing — we’re seeing the same thing in Washington.  I’m sure you’ve all heard the talk recently about some big deadlines we’re facing in a few weeks when it comes to decisions on jobs and investment and taxes.  And that debate is going to have a big impact on all of you.  Some of you may know this:  If Congress doesn’t act soon, meaning in the next few weeks, starting on January 1st, everybody is going to see their income taxes go up.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s true.  You all don’t like that.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Typical, middle-class family of four will see an income tax hike of around $2,200.  How many of you can afford to pay another $2,200 in taxes?  Not you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t think so.  You can’t afford to lose that money.  That’s a hit you can’t afford to take.  And, by the way, that’s not a good hit for businesses, either — because if Congress lets middle-class taxes go up, economists will tell you that means people will spend nearly $200 billion less than they otherwise would spend.  Consumer spending is going to go down.  That means you’ve got less customers.  Businesses get fewer profits.  They hire fewer workers.  You go in a downward spiral. Wrong idea.

Here is the good news:  We can solve this problem.  All Congress needs to do is pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income — everybody.  (Applause.)  That means 98 percent of Americans — and probably 100 percent of you — (laughter) — 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up a single dime.  Even the wealthiest Americans would still get a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income.  But when they start making a million, or $10 million, or $20 million you can afford to pay a little bit more.  (Applause.)  You’re not too strapped.

So Congress can do that right now.  Everybody says they agree with it.  Let’s get it done.  (Applause.)

So that’s the bare minimum.  That’s the bare minimum we should be doing in order to the grow the economy.  But we can do more.  We can do more than just extend middle-class tax cuts.  I’ve said I will work with Republicans on a plan for economic growth, job creation, and reducing our deficits.  And that has some compromise between Democrats and Republicans.  I understand people have a lot of different views.  I’m willing to compromise a little bit.

But if we’re serious about reducing our deficit, we’ve also got to be serious about investing in the things that help us grow and make the middle class strong, like education, and research and development, and making sure kids can go to college, and rebuilding our roads and our infrastructure.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to do that.

So when you put it all together, what you need is a package that keeps taxes where they are for middle-class families; we make some tough spending cuts on things that we don’t need; and then we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a slightly higher tax rate.  And that’s a principle I won’t compromise on, because I’m not going to have a situation where the wealthiest among us, including folks like me, get to keep all our tax breaks, and then we’re asking students to pay higher student loans.  Or suddenly, a school doesn’t have schoolbooks because the school district couldn’t afford it.  Or some family that has a disabled kid isn’t getting the help that they need through Medicaid.

We’re not going to do that.  We’re not going to make that tradeoff.  That’s not going to help us to grow.  Our economic success has never come from the top down; it comes from the middle out.  It comes from the bottom up.  (Applause.)  It comes from folks like you working hard, and if you’re working hard and you’re successful, then you become customers and everybody does well.

Our success as a country in this new century will be defined by how well we educate our kids, how well we train our workers, how well we invent, how well we innovate, how well we build things like cars and engines — all the things that helped create the greatest middle class the world has ever known.  That’s how you bring new jobs back to Detroit.  That’s how you bring good jobs back to America.  That’s what I’m focused on.  That’s what I will stay relentlessly focused on going forward.  (Applause.)

Because when we focus on these things –- when we stay true to ourselves and our history, there’s nothing we can’t do.  (Applause.)  And if you don’t believe me, you need to come down to this plant and see all these outstanding workers.

In fact, as I was coming over here, I was hearing about a guy named Willie.  (Applause.)  Where’s Willie?  There’s Willie right here.  There’s Willie.  (Applause.)  Now, in case you haven’t heard of him, they actually call him “Pretty Willie.”  (Laughter.)  Now, I got to say you got to be pretty tough to have a nickname like “Pretty Willie.”  (Laughter.)  He’s tough.

On Wednesday, Willie will celebrate 60 years working at Detroit Diesel — 60 years.  (Applause.)  Willie started back on December 12, 1952.  I was not born yet.  (Laughter.)  Wasn’t even close to being born.  He made $1.40 an hour.  The only time he spent away from this plant was when he was serving our country in the Korean War.  (Applause.)  So three generations of Willie’s family have passed through Detroit Diesel.  One of his daughters works here with him right now — is that right?  There she is.  (Applause.)

In all his years, Willie has been late to work only once.  It was back in 1977.  (Laughter.)  It’s been so long he can’t remember why he was late — (laughter and applause) — but we’re willing to give him a pass.

So Willie believes in hard work.  You don’t keep a job for 60 years if you don’t work hard.  Sooner or later, someone is going to fire you if you don’t work hard.  He takes pride in being part of something bigger than himself.  He’s committed to family; he’s committed to community; he’s committed to country. That’s how Willie lives his life.  That’s how all of you live your lives.

And that makes me hopeful about the future, because you’re out there fighting every day for a better future for your family and your country.  And when you do that, that means you’re creating value all across this economy.  You’re inspiring people. You’re being a good example for your kids.  That’s what makes America great.  That’s what we have to stay focused on.

And as long as I’ve got the privilege of serving as your President, I’m going to keep fighting for you.  I’m going to keep fighting for your kids.  I’m going to keep fighting for an America where anybody, no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, you can make it if you try here in America.  (Applause.)

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

END
2:51 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency December 6, 2012: President Barack Obama Speech on the Fiscal Cliff Crisis & Preventing an Income Tax Increase on the Middle Class

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Preventing an Income Tax Increase on the Middle Class

Source: WH, 12-6-12

Private Residence
Northern Virginia

2:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I want to, first of all, just thank Tiffany and Richard, Jimmie and Velma for opening up their beautiful home to us.  The reason that we’re here is because Tiffany is one of the people who responded to My2K.

As many of you know, we asked folks all across the country to talk a little bit about what would it mean if their income taxes went up in 2013, and Tiffany, who is a high school teacher, responded.  Her husband, Richard, works at a Toyota dealership.  They actually live with Tiffany’s parents, both of whom are still working.  And so what Tiffany pointed out was that an increase of $2,000 or so for her and her husband in this household would actually mean $4,000 that was lost.  And a couple of thousand dollars means a couple months’ rent for this family.

And the story they tell about working hard, my understanding is they’re interested in starting a business as well as the work that they currently do.  They’ve got dreams and ambitions.  They’ve got a beautiful 6-year-old son, Noah, who’s back with great-grandma.  And they’re keeping it together, they’re working hard, they’re meeting their responsibilities.

For them to be burdened unnecessarily because Democrats and Republicans aren’t coming together to solve this problem gives you a sense of the costs involved in very personal terms.  Obviously, it would also have an impact on our economy, because if this family has a couple of thousand dollars less to spend, that translates into $200 billion of less consumer spending next year.  And that’s bad for businesses large and small.  It’s bad for our economy.  It means less folks are being hired, and we can be back in a downward spiral instead of the kind of virtuous cycle that we want to see.

So the message that I got from Tiffany and the message that I think we all want to send to members of Congress is this is a solvable problem.  The Senate has already passed a bill that would make sure that middle-class taxes do not go up next year by a single dime.  Ninety-eight percent of Americans whose incomes are $250,000 a year or less would not see any increases.  Ninety-seven percent of small businesses would not see any increases in their income taxes.  And even folks who make more than $250,000 would still have a tax break for their incomes up to $250,000.  So 100 percent of Americans actually would be keeping a portion of their tax cuts, and 98 percent of them would not be seeing any increase in their income tax.

That’s the right thing to do for our economy.  It’s the right thing to do for families like Tiffany’s and Richard’s.  And it’s very important that we get this done now, that we don’t wait.  We’re in the midst of the Christmas season; I think the American people are counting on this getting solved.  The closer it gets to the brink, the more stressed they’re going to be.  Businesses are making decisions right now about investment and hiring, and if they don’t have confidence that we can get this thing done, then they’re going to start pulling back and we could have a rocky time in our economy over the next several months, or even next year.

So I’m encouraged to see that there’s been some discussion on the part of Republicans acknowledging the need for additional revenue.  As I’ve indicated, the only way to get the kind of revenue for a balanced deficit reduction plan is to make sure that we’re also modestly increasing rates for people who can afford it — folks like me.  For folks who are in the top 2 percent, we can afford to have a modest rate increase.  That allows us to not only reduce our deficit in a balanced, responsible way, it also allows us to make investments in education, in making college affordable, in putting folks back to work, and investing in basic research that’s important for our economy.

And I think we all recognize that there are some smart cuts we’ve got to make in government.  We’re going to have to strengthen our entitlement programs so that they’re there for future generations.  Everybody is going to have to share in some sacrifice, but it starts with folks who are in the best position to sacrifice, who are in the best position to do a little bit more to step up.  And that’s what my plan does.

So just to be clear, I’m not going to sign any package that somehow prevents the top rate from going up for folks at the top 2 percent.  But I do remain optimistic that we can get something done that is good for families like this one’s and that is good for the American economy.

All right.  Thank you very much, everybody.

END
2:45 P.M. EST

Political Headlines December 3, 2012: Speaker John Boehner Counters Barack Obama Deficit-Cutting Deal With ‘Credible Plan’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner Counters Obama Deficit-Cutting Deal With ‘Credible Plan’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-11-12

Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call

[ CLICK TO SEE A COPY OF BOEHNER’S LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT ]

House Speaker John Boehner on Monday sent President Obama a counter-proposal on how to cut the deficit that he called a “credible plan” to break the stalemate in negotiations to keep the country from going off the “fiscal cliff.”

In the plan, Republicans offer a total of $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. That would give lawmakers enough savings to off-set $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts set to take effect Jan. 2, 2013, but senior Republican aides said it does not explicitly include an offer to address the standoff over whether the president or Congress should have power over debt limit increases. The GOP deal offers $800 billion in new revenue through tax reform, but Boehner insist that tax rates should not go up on the top 2 percent of taxpayers….READ MORE

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer issued the following statement Monday afternoon, saying the GOP proposal does not “meet the test of balance.”

The Republican letter released today does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve. Independent analysts who have looked at plans like this one have concluded that middle class taxes will have to go up to pay for lower rates for millionaires and billionaires.  While the President is willing to compromise to get a significant, balanced deal and believes that compromise is readily available to Congress, he is not willing to compromise on the principles of fairness and balance that include asking the wealthiest to pay higher rates.  President Obama believes – and the American people agree – that the economy works best when it is grown from the middle out, not from the top down.  Until the Republicans in Congress are willing to get serious about asking the wealthiest to pay slightly higher tax rates, we won’t be able to achieve a significant, balanced approach to reduce our deficit our nation needs.

Full Text Obama Presidency December 3, 2012: President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter — Fiscal Cliff Twitter Interview Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter

Source: WH, 12-3-12

President Obama participates in a live Twitter #My2k chat, Dec. 3, 2012. President Barack Obama participates in a Twitter #My2k live question and answer session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

[ READ THE FULL TWITTER Q&A HERE ]

[View the story “President Obama Answers #My2k Questions on Twitter” on Storify]

If Congress doesn’t act, a typical middle-class family will see their taxes go up by about $2,000. Last week, President Obama began calling on Americans to make their voices heard and share what $2,000 means to families across the country.

And today, the President connected directly with the Americans who are speaking out about these tax cuts. During a live Twitter Q&A from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama explained why Congress must act and encouraged people around the country to continue to add their voices to the debate.

Those from whom we heard today are just a few of the people speaking out. Since last week, we’ve heard from over 300,000 people on this issue (with more than 200,000 #My2k tweets and over 100,000 stories submitted on whitehouse.gov). Make sure your voice is heard. Tell us what $2,000 means to you on WhiteHouse.gov/my2k and on Twitter with #My2k.

We know this kind of action has real power. A year ago, during another big fight to protect middle class families, tens of thousands of working Americans called and tweeted and emailed to make their voices heard. The same thing happened earlier this year when college students across the country stood up and demanded that Congress keep rates low on student loans. When the American people speak out they help get things done in Washington — and the President is once again asking the American people to add their voices to this effort.

Political Headlines December 3, 2012: President Barack Obama on Twitter Discusses Fiscal Cliff & Confronts Skeptics of Tax Hike for Rich

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama on Twitter Confronts Skeptics of Tax Hike for Rich

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-3-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

[ READ THE FULL TWITTER Q&A HERE ]

With talks to resolve the “fiscal cliff” at an impasse, President Obama on Monday used Twitter to respond directly to skeptics of his plan to hike income tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at the end of the year.

Obama asserted — through a series of 144-character Tweets sent from his Apple MacBook inside the White House — that “high end tax cuts do least for economic growth” and sharply curtailing government spending hurts the middle class….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 3, 2012: John Boehner, Timothy Geithner Report Little Progress on ‘Fiscal Cliff’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

John Boehner, Timothy Geithner Report Little Progress on ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-2-12

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images

Negotiations between Congress and the White House over the “fiscal cliff” may be continuing in private this weekend, but on television airwaves the top Republican on Capitol Hill reported talks are still at an impasse.

“I would say we’re nowhere. Period,” House Speaker John Boehner said in an interview aired on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. But the White House has responded with virtually nothing. They’ve actually asked for more revenue than they’ve been asking for the whole entire time.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 30, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fiscal Cliff Deal & Middle Class Tax Extension in Visit to Rodon Group Toy Manufacturing Facility in Hatfield, Pennsylvania

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: The Sooner We Get This Done, the Sooner Our Economy Gets a Boost

Source: WH, 11-30-12

President Barack Obama examines a K'NEX rollercoasterPresident Barack Obama examines a K’NEX rollercoaster with Michael Araten, President and CEO of K’NEX and Rodon Group, right, during a tour of the company in Hatfield, Pa., Nov. 30, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Today, President Obama spoke at a toy factory in Hatfield, Pennsylvania about extending tax cuts for middle-class families.

The Rodon Group, a third-generation family owned business, manufactures Tinkertoy and K’NEX building sets. The company depends on the many Americans who buy gifts for family and friends during the holiday season.

But, if Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1, President Obama said.

 A typical middle-class family of four would see their income taxes go up by about $2,200. That’s for a typical family — it would be more for some folks. That’s money a lot of families just can’t afford to lose. That’s less money to buy gas, less money to buy groceries. In some cases, it means tougher choices between paying the rent and saving for college. It means less money to buy more K’NEX.

“And when folks are buying fewer clothes, or cars, or toys, that’s not good for our businesses; it’s not good for our economy; it’s not good for employment,” President Obama explained.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the K’NEX Production FacilityPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks at the K’NEX Production Facility in Hatfield, Pa., Nov. 30, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But there is another option.

Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. That means 98 percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime in 2013. Those who make more than $250,000 would still keep their tax cut on the first $250,000 of income.

President Obama said he has a pen ready to sign that law as soon as it’s ready, but he can’t do that without help from both from Congress and the American people.

I need you to remind members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — to not get bogged down in a bunch of partisan bickering, but let’s go ahead and focus on the people who sent us to Washington and make sure that we’re doing the right thing by them.

So I want you to call, I want you to send an email, post on their Facebook wall. If you tweet, then use a hashtag we’re calling “My2K.” … Because it’s about your “2K” in your pocket.

“Let’s give families all across America the kind of security and certainty that they deserve during the holiday season,” he said. “Let’s keep our economy on the right track. Let’s stand up for the American belief that each of us have our own dreams and aspirations, but we’re also in this together, and we can work together in a responsible way; that we’re one people, and we’re one nation. That’s what this country is all about”

Remarks by the President in Visit to Rodon Group Manufacturing Facility

Hatfield, Pennsylvania

12:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good morning!

THE PRESIDENT: Everybody, please, please have a seat. Have a seat. Relax for a second. (Laughter.)

It is good to see all of you. Hello, Hatfield! (Applause.) It is good to be back in Pennsylvania. And it is good to be right here at K’NEX. (Applause.) I want to thank Michael Araten, Robert Glickman, and the inventor of K’NEX, Joel Glickman, for hosting me today and giving me a great tour. (Applause.) Where did they go? Where did they go? I want to — (applause) — stand up. Stand up so everybody can see you guys. There they are. (Applause.) There you go.

And I just noticed, we’ve got a couple of outstanding members of Congress here. We’ve got Chaka Fattah — (applause)
— and Allyson Schwartz. (Applause.)

Now, I just finished getting a tour of the K’NEX workshop. I have to say, it makes me wish that Joel had invented this stuff a little sooner, when I was a kid. (Laughter.) Back then, you couldn’t really build a rollercoaster out of your Erector Set. (Laughter.)

And I also got a chance to meet some of the folks who have been working around the clock to keep up with the Christmas rush, and that’s a good thing. These guys are Santa’s extra elves here. They manufacture almost 3,000 K’NEX pieces every minute. And every box that ends up on store shelves in 30 countries is stamped “Made in America.” And that’s something to be proud of. That’s something to be proud of. (Applause.)

By the way, I hope the camera folks had a chance to take a look at some of the K’NEX, including that flag made out of K’NEX. And Joe Biden was in Costco; he wanted to buy some of this stuff. (Laughter.) But I told him he had too much work to do. I wasn’t going to have him building rollercoasters all day long. (Laughter.)

Now, of course, Santa delivers everywhere. I’ve been keeping my own naughty-and-nice list for Washington. So you should keep your eye on who gets some K’NEX this year. (Laughter.) There are going to be some members of Congress who get them, and some who don’t. (Laughter and applause.)

So, look, this is a wonderful time of year. It’s been a few weeks since a long election finally came to an end. And obviously, I couldn’t be more honored to be back in the White House. But I’m already missing the time that I spent on the campaign visiting towns like this and talking to folks like you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. That’s why I miss you. (Applause.)

And one of the benefits of traveling and getting out of the White House is it gives you a chance to have a conversation with the American people about what kind of country do we want to be
–- and what kind of country do we want to leave to our kids.

I believe America only thrives when we have a strong and growing middle class. And I believe we’re at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That’s what I believe. And I know that’s what the founders of this company believe as well. We were talking about these guys’ dad, who I understand just passed away at the age of 101. So these guys have good genes in addition to inventive minds. And the story of generations starting businesses, hiring folks, making sure that if you work hard, you can get ahead, that’s what America is all about. And that’s at the heart of the plan that I’ve been talking about all year.

I want to reward manufacturers like this one and small businesses that create jobs here in the United States, not overseas. (Applause.) And by the way this is a company — one of the few companies in the toy industry that have aggressively moved jobs back here. (Applause.) That’s a great story to tell because we’ve got the best workers in the world and the most productive workers in the world, and so we need champions for American industry creating jobs here in the United States.

I want to give more Americans the chance to earn the skills that businesses are looking for right now, and I want to give our children the kind of education they’ll need in the 21st century. I want America to lead the world in research and technology and clean energy. I want to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools. And I want to do all this while bringing down our deficits in a balanced and responsible way. (Applause.)

Now, on this last point, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk in Washington and in the media about the deadlines that we’re facing on jobs and taxes and investments. This is not some run-of-the-mill debate. This isn’t about which political party can come out on top in negotiations. We’ve got important decisions to make that are going to have a real impact on businesses and families all across the country.

Our ultimate goal, our long-term goal is to get our long-term deficit under control in a way that is balanced and is fair. That would be good for businesses, for our economy, for future generations. And I believe both parties can — and will — work together in the coming weeks to get that done. We know how that gets done. We’re going to have to raise a little more revenue. We’ve got to cut out spending we don’t need, building on the trillion dollars of spending cuts we’ve already made. And if we combine those two things, we can create a path where America is paying its bills while still being able to make investments in the things we need to grow like education and infrastructure. So we know how to do that.

But in Washington, nothing is easy, so there is going to be some prolonged negotiations. And all of us are going to have to get out of our comfort zones to make that happen. I’m willing to do that, and I’m hopeful that enough members of Congress in both parties are willing to do that as well. We can solve these problems. But where the clock is really ticking right now is on middle-class taxes. At the end of the year, middle-class taxes that are currently in place are set to expire — middle-class tax cuts that are currently in place are set to expire.

There are two things that can happen. If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1st. Every family, everybody here, you’ll see your taxes go up on January 1st. I mean, I’m assuming that doesn’t sound too good to you.

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: That’s sort of like the lump of coal you get for Christmas. That’s a Scrooge Christmas. A typical middle-class family of four would see their income taxes go up by about $2,200. That’s for a typical family — it would be more for some folks. That’s money a lot of families just can’t afford to lose. That’s less money to buy gas, less money to buy groceries. In some cases, it means tougher choices between paying the rent and saving for college. It means less money to buy more K’NEX.

AUDIENCE: Booo — (laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Just the other day, economists said that if income taxes go up on the middle class, people will spend nearly $200 billion less in stores and online. And when folks are buying fewer clothes, or cars, or toys, that’s not good for our businesses; it’s not good for our economy; it’s not good for employment.

So that’s one path: Congress does nothing, we don’t deal with this looming tax hike on middle-class families, and starting in January, everybody gets hit with this big tax hike and businesses suddenly see fewer customers, less demand. The economy, which we’ve been fighting for four years to get out of this incredible economic crisis that we have, it starts stalling again. So that’s one path.

The good news is there’s a second option. Right now, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income — everybody. So that means 98 percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime — because 98 percent of Americans make $250,000 a year or less; 97 percent of small businesses make $250,000 a year or less. So if you say income taxes don’t go up for any income above $250,000, the vast majority of Americans, they don’t see a tax hike.

But here’s the thing. Even the top 2 percent, even folks who make more than $250,000, they’d still keep their tax cut on the first $250,000 of income. So it would still be better off for them, too, for us to go ahead and get that done. Families would have a sense of security going into the new year. Companies like this one would know what to expect in terms of planning for next year and the year after. That means people’s jobs would be secure.

The sooner Congress gets this done, the sooner our economy will get a boost. And it would then give us in Washington more time to work together on that long-range plan to bring down deficits in a balanced way: Tax reform, working on entitlements, and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we can keep investing in things like education and research that make us strong.

So those are the choices that we have. And understand this was a central question in the election — maybe the central question in the election. You remember. We talked about this a lot. (Laughter.) It wasn’t like this should come as a surprise to anybody. We had debates about it. There were a lot of TV commercials about it. And at the end of the day, a clear majority of Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents — they agreed with a balanced approach to deficit reduction and making sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up. Folks agreed to that.

Now, the good news is we’re starting to see a few Republicans coming around to it, too — I’m talking about Republicans in Congress. So the reason I’m here is because I want the American people to urge Congress soon, in the next week, the next two weeks, to begin the work we have by doing what we all agree on. Both parties agree that we should extend the middle-class tax cuts. We’ve got some disagreements about the high-end tax cuts, right? Republicans don’t want to raise taxes on folks like me; I think I can pay a little bit more to make sure that kids can go to college and we can build roads and invest in NIH so that we’re finding cures for Alzheimer’s. And that’s a disagreement that we’re going to have and we’ve got to sort out.

But we already all agree, we say, on making sure middle-class taxes don’t go up, so let’s get that done. Let’s go ahead and take the fear out for the vast majority of American families so they don’t have to worry about $2,000 coming out of their pockets starting next year.

The Senate has already passed a bill to keep income taxes from going up on middle-class families. That’s already passed the Senate. Your member of Congress like Allyson and Chaka, other Democrats in the House, they’re ready to go. They’re ready to vote on that same thing. And if we can just get a few House Republicans on board, we can pass the bill in the House. It will land on my desk, and I am ready — I’ve got a bunch of pens ready to sign this bill. (Laughter.) I’m ready to sign it. (Applause.) There are no shortage of pens in the White House. (Laughter.) And I carry one around for an emergency just in case, just waiting for the chance to use it to sign this bill to make sure people’s taxes don’t go up.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you!

THE PRESIDENT: Well, don’t thank me yet, because I haven’t signed it. (Laughter.) I need some help from Congress.

So the key is, though, that the American people have to be involved. It’s not going to be enough for me to just do this on my own. So I’m hopeful that both sides are going to come together and do the right thing, but we all know you can’t take anything for granted when it comes to Washington. Let’s face it. And that’s why I’m going to be asking for all of you to make your voices heard over the next few days and the next couple of weeks.

I need you to remind members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — to not get bogged down in a bunch of partisan bickering, but let’s go ahead and focus on the people who sent us to Washington and make sure that we’re doing the right thing by them.

So I want you to call, I want you to send an email, post on their Facebook wall. If you tweet, then use a hashtag we’re calling “My2K.” Not Y2K, “My2K,” all right? Because it’s about your “2K” in your pocket. (Laughter.) We’re trying to burn that into people’s minds here. (Applause.)

So in the meantime I’m doing my part. I’m meeting with every constituency group out there. We’re talking to CEOs. We’re talking to labor groups. We’re talking to civic groups. I’m talking to media outlets, just explaining to the American people this is not that complicated. Let’s make sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up. Let’s get that done in the next couple of weeks.

Let’s also work together on a fair and balanced, responsible plan so that we are paying our bills — we’re not spending on things we don’t need, but we are still spending on the things that make us grow. That’s the kind of fair, balanced, responsible plan that I talked about during the campaign, and that’s what the majority of Americans believe in.

So I’m hopeful, but I’m going to need folks like you, the people here in Hatfield and here in Pennsylvania and all across the country, to get this done. And a lot is riding on this debate. This is too important to our economy, it’s too important for our families to not get it done. And it’s not acceptable to me, and I don’t think it’s acceptable to you, for just a handful of Republicans in Congress to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they don’t want tax rates on upper-income folks to go up. All right? That doesn’t make sense. (Applause.)

If your voices are heard, then we can help businesses like this one. We’re going to sell a whole bunch of K’NEX. (Laughter and applause.) Let’s give families all across America the kind of security and certainty that they deserve during the holiday season. Let’s keep our economy on the right track. Let’s stand up for the American belief that each of us have our own dreams and aspirations, but we’re also in this together, and we can work together in a responsible way; that we’re one people, and we’re one nation.

That’s what this country is about. That’s what all of you deserve. That’s what I’m fighting for every single day, and I will keep fighting for as long as I have the privilege of being your President.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless the America. (Applause.)

END
12:19 P.M. EST

Political Headlines November 29, 2012: Speaker John Boehner on Fiscal Cliff: ‘White House Has to Get Serious’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Boehner on Fiscal Cliff: ‘White House Has to Get Serious’

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-29-12

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans and Democrats may be privately working to avoid the fiscal cliff, but in public they’re digging into opposing positions on the all-important issue of tax rates for the wealthiest two percent of Americans. And leaders from both parties say they want a “serious proposal” from the other side.

“No substantive progress has been made on the fiscal cliff negotiations,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters after a short phone conversation with President Obama Wednesday night and a meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Thursday morning….READ MORE

Political Headlines November 29, 2012: President Barack Obama & John Boehner Share ‘Curt’ Phone Call on Fiscal Cliff

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama, Boehner Share ‘Curt’ Phone Call

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-29-12

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner had what Politico called a “curt” conversation on Wednesday, the White House confirms.

Aides to the speaker also confirm the call, adding only, “Watch Boehner this morning” at a scheduled news conference on Capitol Hill.  Both sides refuse to say when during the day the call occurred….READ MORE

Political Headlines November 28, 2012: President Barack Obama Launches #My2K Fiscal Cliff Campaign

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Launches #My2K Fiscal Cliff Campaign

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-28-12

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Kicking off his public relations campaign to build support for his plan to avert the looming “fiscal cliff,” President Obama on Wednesday said he is doing his part and urged Americans to pressure lawmakers to do theirs.

“Middle class families, folks who are working hard to get into the middle class, they’re watching what we do right now. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens,” the president told a crowd of middle class Americans at the White House Wednesday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Extending Tax Cuts for the Middle Class

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Wants Americans to Speak Out on Passing the Middle Class Tax Cuts

Source: WH, 11-28-12

President Barack Obama discusses the need for Congress to extend the middle class tax cuts (November 28, 2012)President Barack Obama delivers remarks regarding the need for Congress to extend the middle class tax cuts, in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, Nov. 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Surrounded by Americans who had written into the White House in support of his plan, President Obama today renewed his call to prevent a tax increase on the middle class.

“If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year,” the President said. “A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That’s $2,200 out of people’s pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now.”

To help find an agreement President Obama pledged to keep up the pressure — meeting with lawmakers, labor leaders, and business executives. And he called on the American people to speak up and add their own voices to the debate.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens,” he said.

You can share your story by visiting WH.gov/My2K, or help keep the conversation going online on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #My2K. Or, read what others are saying about what $2,000 means to them.

“I can only do it with the help of the American people,” President Obama said. “Do what it takes to communicate a sense of urgency. We don’t have a lot of time here. We’ve got a few weeks to get this thing done.”

Watch the President’s full remarks here

Remarks by the President on Extending Tax Cuts for the Middle Class

Source: WH, 11-28-12

South Court Auditorium

12:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.
Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat. Thank you very much. Everybody, please have a seat — except you guys. Don’t sit down. (Laughter.)

Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

THE PRESIDENT: There’s been a lot of talk here in Washington about the deadlines we’re facing on taxes and deficits — these deadlines are going to be coming up very soon, in the coming weeks. But today is important because I want to make sure everybody understands this debate is not just about numbers. It’s a set of major decisions that are going to affect millions of families all across this country in very significant ways. And their voices — the voices of the American people — have to be part of this debate. And so I asked some friends of mine here to join me, some folks from here in the area.

Our ultimate goal is an agreement that gets our long-term deficit under control in a way that is fair and balanced. That kind of agreement would be good for our businesses; it would be good for our economy; it would be good for our children’s future. And I believe that both parties can agree on a framework that does that in the coming weeks. In fact, my hope is to get this done before Christmas.

But the place where we already have, in theory at least, complete agreement right now is on middle-class taxes. And as I’ve said before, we’ve got two choices. If Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their taxes automatically go up at the beginning of next year. Starting January 1st, every family in America will see their taxes go up.

A typical middle-class family of four would see its income taxes go up by $2,200. That’s $2,200 out of people’s pockets. That means less money for buying groceries, less money for filling prescriptions, less money for buying diapers. (Laughter.) It means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition. And middle-class families just can’t afford that right now.

By the way, businesses can’t afford it either. Yesterday, I sat down with some small business owners who stressed this point. Economists predict that if taxes go up on the middle class next year, consumers will spend nearly $200 billion less on things like cars and clothes and furniture — and that obviously means fewer customers. That cuts into business profits. That makes businesses less likely to invest and hire, which means fewer jobs. And that can drag our entire economy down.

Now, the good news is there’s a better option. Right now, as we speak, Congress can pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. Everybody’s. And that means that 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime. Ninety-eight percent of Americans, 97 percent of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up by a single dime.

Even the wealthiest Americans would still get a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income. So it’s not like folks who make more than $250,000 aren’t getting a tax break, too. They’re getting a tax break on the first $250,000 just like everybody else.

Families and small businesses would, therefore, be able to enjoy some peace of mind heading into Christmas and heading into the New Year. And it would give us more time then next year to work together on a comprehensive plan to bring down our deficits, to streamline our tax system, to do it in a balanced way — including asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, so that we can still invest in things like education and training, and science and research.

Now, I know some of this may sound familiar to you because we talked a lot about this during the campaign. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. This was a major debate in the presidential campaign and in congressional campaigns all across the country. And a clear majority of Americans — not just Democrats, but also a lot of Republicans and a lot of independents — agreed we should have a balanced approach to deficit reduction that doesn’t hurt the economy and doesn’t hurt middle-class families. And I’m glad to see — if you’ve been reading the papers lately — that more and more Republicans in Congress seem to be agreeing with this idea that we should have a balanced approach.

So if both parties agree we should not raise taxes on middle-class families, let’s begin our work with where we agree. The Senate has already passed a bill that keeps income taxes from going up on middle-class families. Democrats in the House are ready to vote for that same bill today. And if we can get a few House Republicans to agree as well, I’ll sign this bill as soon as Congress sends it my way. I’ve got to repeat, I’ve got a pen. I’m ready to sign it. (Applause.)

So my point here today is to say let’s approach this problem with the middle class in mind — the folks who are behind me and the millions of people all across the country who they represent. The American people are watching what we do — middle-class families, folks who are working hard to get into the middle class — they’re watching what we do right now. And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, when the American people speak loudly enough, lo and behold, Congress listens.

Some of you may remember that a year ago, during our last big fight to protect middle-class families, tens of thousands of working Americans called and tweeted and emailed their representatives, asking them to do the right thing. And sure enough, it worked. The same thing happened earlier this year when college students across the country stood up and demanded that Congress keep rates low on their student loans. Congress got the message loud and clear and they made sure that interest rates on student loans did not go up.

So the lesson is that when enough people get involved, we have a pretty good track record of actually making Congress work. And that’s important, because this is our biggest challenge yet — and it’s one that we can only meet together.

So in the interest of making sure that everybody makes their voices heard, last week we asked people to tell us what would a $2,000 tax hike mean to them. Some families told us it would make it more difficult for them to send their kids to college. Others said it would make it tougher for them to cover the cost of prescription drugs. Some said it would make it tough for them to make their mortgage.

Lyn Lyon, who’s here, from Newport News — where’s Lyn? There she is. She just wants to see some cooperation in Washington. She wrote, “Let’s show the rest of the world that we’re adults and, living in a democracy, we can solve our problems by working together.”

So that’s what this debate is all about. And that’s why it’s so important that as many Americans as possible send a message that we need to keep moving forward. So today, I’m asking Congress to listen to the people who sent us here to serve. I’m asking Americans all across the country to make your voice heard. Tell members of Congress what a $2,000 tax hike would mean to you. Call your members of Congress, write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls. You can tweet it using the hashtag “My2K.” Not “Y2K.” (Laughter.) “My2K.” We figured that would make it a little easier to remember.

And I want to assure the American people I’m doing my part
— I’m sitting down with CEOs; I’m sitting down with labor leaders; I’m talking to leaders in Congress. I am ready and able and willing and excited to go ahead and get this issue resolved in a bipartisan fashion so that American families, American businesses have some certainty going into next year. And we can do it in a balanced and fair way, but our first job is to make sure that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up. And since we all theoretically agree on that, we should go ahead and get that done. (Applause.) If we get that done, a lot of the other stuff is going to be a lot easier.

So in light of just sort of spreading this message, I’m going to be visiting Pennsylvania on Friday to talk with folks at a small business there that are trying to make sure that they’re filling their Christmas orders. And I’ll go anywhere and I’ll do whatever it takes to get this done. It’s too important for Washington to screw this up. Now is the time for us to work on what we all agree to, which is let’s keep middle-class taxes low. That’s what our economy needs. That’s what the American people deserve.

And if we get this part of it right, then a lot of the other issues surrounding deficit reduction in a fair and balanced and responsible way are going to be a whole lot easier. And if we get this wrong, the economy is going to go south. It’s going to be much more difficult for us to balance our budgets and deal with our deficits because if the economy is not strong, that means more money is going out in things like unemployment insurance, and less money is coming in, in terms of tax receipts. And it just actually makes our deficit worse.

So we really need to get this right. I can only do it with the help of the American people. So, tweet — what was that again — “My2K” — tweet using the hashtag “My2K,” or email, post it on a member of Congress’s Facebook wall. Do what it takes to communicate a sense of urgency. We don’t have a lot of time here. We’ve got a few weeks to get this thing done. We could get it done tomorrow. Now, optimistically, I don’t think we’re going to get it done tomorrow — (laughter) — but I tell you, if everybody here goes out of their way to make their voices heard, and spread the word to your friends and your family, your coworkers, your neighbors, then I am confident we will get it done. And we will put America on the right track not just for next year but for many years to come. All right?

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) Appreciate it.
END
12:12 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Headlines November 17, 2012: GOP Weekly Address: Sen. Kelly Ayotte Calls for Bipartisan Cooperation on Fiscal Cliff

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Address: Sen. Ayotte Calls for Bipartisan Cooperation on Fiscal Cliff

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-17-12

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

With the threat of the fiscal cliff quickly approaching, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have voiced ideas about how to avoid the Jan. 1 deadline, when automatic tax hikes for all Americans and deep government spending cuts are set to take effect. In this week’s Republican address, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte criticizes Washington for “ducking the tough decisions,” but says the critical fiscal cliff represents a new opportunity for both parties to change the country’s “irresponsible spending path.”

“And one thing is clear: the American people expect Republicans and Democrats to work together to solve the difficult challenges we face,” Ayotte says, referring to the “spirited debate” over the federal budget that played out over the last year by members of both parties.

“For too long, partisan bickering has paralyzed Washington — preventing members of both parties from reaching across the aisle to find common ground,” she says in the address. “That must stop. Power sharing is an opportunity — not an obstacle.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 17, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on ‘Constructive’ Fiscal Talks Underway — Working Together to Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama’s Weekly Address: ‘Constructive’ Fiscal Talks Underway

Source: WH, 11-17-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

In his weekly address, President Obama gives his assessment of the first fiscal cliff summit with congressional leaders, whom he hosted Friday at the White House.

“It was a constructive meeting.  And everyone agreed that while we may have our differences, we need to come together, find solutions and take action as soon as possible,” he says….READ MORE

Weekly Address: Working Together to Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts

Source: WH, 11-17-12

In this week’s address, President Obama urges Congress to act now on one thing that everyone agrees on — ensuring that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of small businesses at the end of the year. On Friday, the President had a constructive meeting with Congressional leaders on finding ways to reduce our deficit in a way that strengthens our economy and protects our middle class, and he looks forward to working together to get this done.

Transcript  |  Download mp4  |  Download mp3

Weekly Address: Working Together to Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts

Hi, everybody.

Four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, our economy is growing again and creating jobs.  But we have much more to do. Our task now is to build on that progress.  Because this nation only succeeds when we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class.

That’s what drives me. That’s what I campaigned on for the past year.  That’s what will guide me in our work over the next four years. And I’m willing to work with anyone of any party to move this country forward.

Because soon, we face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs and taxes; on investments and deficits. Both parties voted to set this deadline. And I believe both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way.

When it comes to taxes, for example, there are two pathways available.

One says, if Congress fails to act by the end of the year, then everybody’s taxes automatically go up – including the 98% of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year. Our economy can’t afford that right now. You can’t afford that right now.  And nobody wants that to happen.

The other path is for Congress to pass a law right away to prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of anyone’s income. That means all Americans – including the wealthiest Americans – get a tax cut.  And 98 percent of Americans, and 97 percent of all small business owners, won’t see their income taxes go up a single dime.

The Senate has already passed a bill like this. Democrats in the House are ready to pass one, too. All we need is for Republicans in the House to come on board.

We shouldn’t hold the middle class hostage while Congress debates tax cuts for the wealthy. Let’s begin our work by actually doing what we all agree on. Let’s keep taxes low for the middle class. And let’s get it done soon – so we can give families and businesses some good news going into the holiday season.

I know these challenges won’t be easy to solve. But we can do it if we work together.

That’s why on Friday I sat down with Congressional leaders to discuss how we can reduce our deficit in a way that strengthens our economy and protects our middle class. It was a constructive meeting. And everyone agreed that while we may have our differences, we need to come together, find solutions and take action as soon as possible.

Because if anything, that’s the message I heard loud and clear in the election.

Work as hard as you can to make our lives better. And do it together.

Don’t worry about the politics.  Just get the job done.

Everywhere I went in that campaign – from farms in Iowa to the Vegas strip; from Colorado’s Rockies to the Florida coast – I was inspired by the grit and resilience of the American people, by your hard work and sense of decency.  And it makes me want to work even harder for you. I saw it again this week in New York, where our fellow citizens are going through a really tough time, but are helping each other through it. And we’re going to be there to help them rebuild.

Every single day, the good people of this country work as hard as you can to meet your responsibilities. Those of us you sent to Washington are going to do the same.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

Full Text Obama Presidency November 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Press Conference in East Room, White House Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Transcript of President Obama’s Press Conference

Source: NYT, 11-14-12

President Obama’s Press Conference: In his first news conference since June, President Obama faced questions on David H. Petraeus, Libya and taxes.

The following is the complete transcript of President Obama’s press conference on Wednesday in Washington. (Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.)

Related

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat.

I hear you have some questions for me — (laughter) — but let — let me just make a few remarks at the top and then I’ll open it up.

First of all, I want to reiterate what I said on Friday. Right now our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis, so our top priority has to be jobs and growth. We’ve got to build on the progress that we’ve made because this nation succeeds when we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class. And that’s the idea at the core of the plan that I talked about on the campaign trail over the last year — rewarding manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs here, not overseas; providing more Americans the chance to earn (sic) the skills that businesses are looking for right now; keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology and clean energy; putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges and our schools; and reducing our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

Now, on this last item, we face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs, taxes and deficits by the end of the year. Both parties voted to set this deadline and I believe that both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way.

Yesterday I had a chance to meet with labor and civic leaders for their input. Today I’m meeting with CEOs of some of America’s largest companies. And I’ll meet with leaders of both parties of Congress before the week is out because there’s only one way to solve these challenges, and that is to do it together.

As I’ve said before, I’m open to compromise and I’m open to new ideas. And I’ve been encouraged over the past week to hear Republican after Republican agree for the need for more revenue from the wealthiest Americans as part of our arithmetic if we’re going to be serious about reducing the deficit because when it comes to taxes, there are two pathways available.

Option one, if Congress fails to act by the end of this year, everybody’s taxes will automatically go up, including the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year and the 97 percent of small businesses who earn less than $250,000 a year. That doesn’t make sense. Our economy can’t afford that right now. Certainly no middle-class family can afford that right now.

And nobody in either party says that they want it to happen. The other option is to pass a law right now that would prevent any tax hike whatsoever on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. And by the way, that means every American, including the wealthiest Americans, get a tax cut. It means that 98 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of all small businesses won’t see their taxes go up a single dime.

The Senate has already passed a law like this. Democrats in the House are ready to pass a law like this. And I hope Republicans in the House come on board too. We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. We should at least do what we agree on, and that’s to keep middle-class taxes lower. And I’ll bring everyone in to sign it right away so we can give folks some certainty before the holiday season.

I won’t pretend that figuring out everything else will be easy, but I’m confident we can do it and I know we have to. I know that that’s what the American people want us to do. That was a very clear message from the election last week. And that was the message of a letter that I received over the weekend. It came from a man in Tennessee who began by writing that he didn’t vote for me, which is OK.

But what he said was even though he didn’t give me his vote, he’s giving me his support to move this country forward. And he said the same to his Republican representatives in Washington. He said that he’ll back each of us, regardless of party, as long as we work together to make life better for all of us. And he made it clear that if we don’t make enough progress, he’ll be back in touch.

So my hope, he wrote, is that we can make progress in light of personal and party principles, special interest groups and years of business as usual. We’ve got to work together and put our differences aside. I couldn’t say it better myself. That’s precisely what I intend to do. And with that, let me open it up for your questions.

And I’m going to start off with Ben Feller of AP.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Can you assure the American people that there have been no breaches of national security or classified information in the scandal involving Generals Petraeus and Allen? And do you think that you, as commander in chief, and the American people should have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I have no evidence at this point, from what I’ve seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security. Obviously, there’s an ongoing investigation. I don’t want to comment on the specifics of the investigation. The FBI has its own protocols in terms of how they proceed. And you know, I’m going to let Director Mueller and others examine those protocols and make some statements to the public generally.

I do want to emphasize what I’ve said before. General Petraeus had an extraordinary career.

He served this country with great distinction in Iraq, in Afghanistan and as head of the CIA.

By his own assessment, he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as the director of CIA with respect to this personal matter that he is now dealing with with his family and with his wife. And it’s on that basis that he tendered his resignation, and it’s on that basis that I accepted it. But I want to emphasize that, from my perspective at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done. And my main hope right now is — is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.

Q: What about voters? Do they deserve to know?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, again, I think you’re going to have to talk to the FBI in terms of what their general protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation. And one of the challenges here is — is that we’re not supposed to meddle in, you know, criminal investigations. And that’s been our practice. And you know, I think that there are certain procedures that both the FBI follow or DOJ follow when they’re involved in these investigations. That’s traditionally been how we view things, in part because people are innocent until proven guilty. And we want to make sure that we don’t prejudge these kinds of situations. And so my expectation is — is that they followed protocols that they already established.

(Inaudible) — Jessica Yellin. Where’s Jessica? Right there.

Q: Mr. President, on the fiscal cliff — two years ago, sir, you said that you wouldn’t extend the Bush-era tax cuts, but at the end of the day, you did. So respectfully, sir, why should the American people and the Republicans believe that you won’t cave again this time?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, two years ago the economy was in a different situation. We were still very much in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And ultimately, we came together, not only toe extend the Bush tax cuts, but also a wide range of policies that were going to be good for the economy at the point — unemployment insurance extensions, payroll tax extension — all of which made a difference, and is a part of the reason why what we’ve seen now is 32 consecutive months of job growth, and over 5 1/2 million jobs created, and the unemployment rate coming down.

But what I said at the time is what I meant, which is this was a one-time proposition. And you know, what I have told leaders privately as well as publicly is that we cannot afford to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. What we can do is make sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up.

And so the most important step we can take right now, and, I think, the foundation for a deal that helps the economy, creates jobs, gives consumers certainty, which means gives businesses confidence that they’re going to have consumers during the holiday season, is if we right away say 98 percent of Americans are not going to see their taxes go up; 97 percent of small businesses are not going to see their taxes go up.

If we get that in place, we are actually removing half of the fiscal cliff. Half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step.

And what we can then do is shape a process whereby we look at tax reform, which I’m very eager to do. I think we can simplify our tax system. I think we can make it more efficient. We can eliminate loopholes and deductions that have a distorting effect on our economy.

I believe that we have to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our entitlements, because health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.

So there is a package to be shaped, and I’m confident that parties — folks of good will in both parties can make that happen. But what I’m not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can’t afford and, according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy.

Q: You’ve said that the wealthiest must pay more. Would closing loopholes instead of raising rates for them satisfy you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that there are loopholes that can be closed, and we should look at how we can make the process of deductions, the filing process easier, simpler.

But when it comes to the top 2 percent, what I’m not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it, which would cost close to a trillion dollars. And it’s very difficult to see how you make up that trillion dollars, if we’re serious about deficit reduction, just by closing loopholes in deductions. You know, the math tends not to work.

And I think it’s important to establish a basic principle that was debated extensively during the course of this campaign.

I mean, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. This was — if there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and Mr. Romney, it was, when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a balanced, responsible approach, and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more.

I think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me, not — by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.

So we’ve got a clear majority of the American people who recognize if we’re going to be serious about deficit reduction, we’ve got to do it in a balanced way.

The only question now is, are we going to hold the middle class hostage in order to go ahead and let that happen? Or can we all step back and say, here’s something we agree on. We don’t want middle- class taxes to go up. Let’s go ahead and lock that in. That will be good for the economy. It will be good for consumers. It will be good for businesses. It takes the edge off the fiscal cliff. And let’s also then commit ourselves to the broader package of deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes and it includes, potentially, tax reform, as well as I’m willing to look at additional work that we can do on the discretionary spending side.

So I want a — a big deal. I want a comprehensive deal. I want to see if we can, you know, at least for the foreseeable future provide certainty to businesses and the American people, so that we can focus on job growth, so that we’re also investing in the things that we need.

But right now what I want to make sure of is, is that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up, and there’s a very easy way to do that. We could get that done by next week.

OK. Lori Montenegro, Telemundo.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. On immigration reform, the criticism in the past has been that you did not put forth legislation with specific ideas and send it up to the Hill. This time around, you have said again that this will be one of the top priorities for a second term. Will you then send legislation to the Hill. And exactly what do you envision is broad immigration reform? Does that include a legalization program? And also, what lessons, if any, did Democrats learn from this last election and the Latino vote?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think what was incredibly encouraging was to see a significant increase in Latino turnout. This is the fastest-growing group in the country. And you know, historically what you’ve seen is Latino vote — vote at lower rates than the broader population. And that’s beginning to change. You’re starting to see a sense of empowerment and civic participation that I think is going to be powerful and good for the country.

And it is why I am very confident that we can get immigration reform done. You know, I — before the election, I had given a couple of interviews where I had predicted that the Latino vote was going to be strong and that that would cause some reflection on the part of Republicans about their position on immigration reform. I think we’re starting to see that already. I think that’s a positive sign.

This has not historically been a partisan issue. We’ve had President Bush, John McCain and others who have supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past. So we need to seize the moment.

And my expectation is is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration. And in fact, some conversations, I think, are already beginning to take place among senators and congressmen and my staff about what would this look like.

And when I say comprehensive immigration reform and — is very similar to the outlines of previous efforts at comprehensive immigration reform; I think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we’ve taken, because we have to secure our borders. I think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. And I do think that there should be a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work. It’s important for them to pay back taxes, it’s important for them to learn English, it’s important for them to potentially pay a fine, but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country, I think is very important.

Obviously, making sure that we put into law what — the first step that we’ve taken administratively dealing with the DREAM Act kids is very important as well. One thing that I’m — I’m very clear about is that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own, who have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to our flag, who want to serve in our military, who want to go to school and contribute to our society, that they shouldn’t be under the cloud of deportation, that we should give them every opportunity to earn their citizenship.

And so, you know, there are other components to it, obviously. The business community continues to be concerned about getting enough high-skill workers. And I am a believer that if you’ve got a Ph.D. in physics or computer science, who wants to stay here and start a business here, we shouldn’t make it harder for him to stay here. We should try to encourage him to contribute to this society.

I think that the agricultural sector obviously has very specific concerns about making sure that they’ve got a workforce that helps deliver food to our tables.

So there are going to be a bunch of components to it, but I think whatever process we have needs to make sure border security is strong, needs to deal with employers effectively, needs to provide a pathway for the undocumented here, needs to deal with the Dream Act kids. And I think that’s something that we can get done.

Chuck Todd. Where’s Chuck?

Q: Mr. President, I just want to follow up on a — both Ben’s question and Jessica’s question. On — having to do with Ben’s question, are you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: How about Lori’s question? Do you want to follow up on that one too? (Laughter.)

Q: I — you know, no, you — I feel like you answered that one completely. (Laughter.)

Are you withholding judgment on whether you should have known sooner that there was a potential — that there was an investigation into whether your CIA director — potentially there was a national security breach with your CIA director? Do you believe you should have known sooner, or are you withholding judgment until the investigation is complete on that front?

And then the follow-up to Jessica’s question: tax rates. Are you — is there no deal at the end of the year if tax rates for the top 2 percent aren’t the Clinton tax rates, period, no if, ands or buts? Any room in negotiating on that specific aspect of the fiscal cliff?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am — I am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. You know, we don’t have all the information yet. But I want to say that I have a lot of confidence generally in the FBI, and they’ve got a difficult job. And so I’m going to wait and see to see if there’s any other —

Q: (Off mic) — though that you should have known? Do you think in hindsight — (inaudible) — have known?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I mean, Chuck, what I’ll — what I’ll say is that if — it is also possible that had we been told, then you’d be sitting here asking a question about, why were you interfering in a criminal investigation? So, you know, I think it’s best right now for us to just see how this whole process unfolded.

With respect to the tax rates, I — I just want to emphasize: I am open to new ideas. If the Republican counterparts or some Democrats have a great idea for us to raise revenue, maintain progressivity, make sure the middle class isn’t getting hit, reduces our deficit, encourages growth, I’m not going to just slam the door in their face. I want to hear — I — I want to — I want to hear ideas from everybody.

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well — look, I believe this is solvable. I think that fair-minded people can come to an agreement that does not cause the economy to go back into recession, that protects middle- class families, that focuses on jobs and growth and reduces our deficit. I’m confident it can be done.

My budget, frankly, does it. I understand that — I don’t expect the Republicans simply to adopt my budget. That’s not realistic. So I recognize that we’re going to have to compromise. And as I said on election night, compromise is hard. And not everybody gets a hundred percent of what they want, and not everybody’s going to be perfectly happy.

But what I will not do is to have a process that is vague, that says we’re going to sort of, kind of raise revenue through dynamic scoring or closing loopholes that have not been identified.

And the reason I won’t do that is because I don’t want to find ourselves in a position six months from now or a year from now where, lo and behold, the only way to close the deficit is to sock it to middle-class families or to burden families that have disabled kids or, you know, have a parent in a nursing home, or suddenly we’ve got to cut more out of our basic research budget that is the key to growing the economy in the long term.

So that’s my concern. I’m less concerned about red lines per se. What I’m concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren’t paying more or aren’t paying as much they should; middle-class families, one way or another, are making up the difference. That’s the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long, and that’s exactly what I argued against during this campaign. And if there’s — one thing that I’m pretty confident about is the American people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. They want compromise. They wanted action. But they also want to make sure that middle-class folks aren’t bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and that’s going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations but, more importantly, during the next four years of my administration.

Nancy Cordes.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

Q: Mr. President, on election night you said that you were looking forward to speaking with Governor Romney, sitting down in the coming weeks to discuss ways that you could work together on this nation’s problems. Have you extended that invitation? Has he accepted? And in what ways do you think you can work together?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, we haven’t scheduled something yet. I think everybody forgets that the election was only a week ago. And I know I’ve forgotten. (Laughter.) I forgot on Wednesday. (Chuckles, laughter.) So you know — (chuckles) — I think everybody needs to catch their breath. I — I’m sure that Governor Romney is spending some time with his family. And my hope is, before the end of the year, though, that we have a chance to — to sit down and talk.

You know, there — there are certain aspects of Governor Romney’s record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful. And well, to give you one example, I do think he did a terrific job running the Olympics. And you know, that skill set of trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government. There are a lot of ideas that I don’t think are partisan ideas but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer-friendly? How can we make sure that, you know, we’re consolidating programs that are duplicative? You know, how can we eliminate additional waste?

He — he presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that I actually agree with. And so it’d be interesting to talk to him about something like that. There may be ideas that he has with respect to jobs and growth that can help middle-class families that I want to hear. So you know, I’m not — I’m not either prejudging what he’s interested in doing, nor am I suggesting I’ve got some specific assignment. But I — what I want to do is to — is to get ideas from him and see if — see if there are some ways that we can potentially work together.

Q: But when it comes to your relationships with Congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard over the past few years from members on both sides is that you haven’t done enough to reach out and build relationships. Are there concrete ways that you plan to approach your relationships with Congress in the second term?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Look, I think there’s no doubt that I can always do better. And so I will, you know, examine ways that I can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody, so long as its advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class and improving our economy.

You know, I’ve got a lot of good relationships with folks both in the House and the Senate. I have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. It hasn’t always manifested itself in the kind of agreements that I’d like to see between Democrats and Republicans, and so I think all of us have responsibilities to see if there are things that we can improve on. And I don’t exempt myself from needing to, you know, do some self-reflection and see if I can improve our working relationship.

There are probably going to be still some very sharp differences. And as I said during the campaign, there are going to be times where there are fights. And I think those are fights that need to be had. But what I think the American people don’t want to see is a focus on the next election instead of a focus on them. And I don’t have another election.

And you know, Michelle and I were talking last night about, you know, what an incredible honor and privilege it is to be put in this position. And there are people all across this country, millions of folks who’ve worked so hard to help us get elected. But there are also millions of people who may not have voted for us but are also counting on us.

And you know, we take that responsibility very seriously. I take that responsibility very seriously. And I hope and intend to be an even better president in the second term than I was in the first.

Jonathan Karl.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham both said today that they want to have Watergate-style hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and said that if you nominate Susan Rice to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination. As Senator Graham said, he simply doesn’t trust Ambassador Rice after what she said about Benghazi. I’d like your reaction to that. And would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I’m not going to comment at this point on various nominations that I’ll put forward to fill out my Cabinet for the second term. Those are things that are still being discussed.

But let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

And you know, we’re after an election now. I think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi, and I’m happy to cooperate in any ways that Congress wants. We have provided every bit of information that we have, and we will continue to provide information. And we’ve got a full-blown investigation, and all that information will be disgorged to Congress.

And I don’t think there’s any debate in this country that when you have four Americans killed, that’s a problem. And we’ve got to get to the bottom of it, and there needs to be accountability. We’ve got to bring those who carried it out to justice. They won’t get any debate from me on that.

But when they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me. And should I choose — if I think that she would be the best person to serve America in the capacity — the State Department, then I will nominate her. That’s not a determination that I’ve made yet.

Yeah. Ed Henry.

Q: I want to take Chuck’s lead and just ask a very small follow- up, which is whether you feel you have a mandate, not just on taxes, but on a range of issues, because of your decisive victory. But I want to stay on Benghazi, based on what John (sp) asked, because you said, if they want to come after me, come after me. I wanted to ask about the families of these four Americans who were killed. Sean Smith’s father, Ray, said he believes his so basically called 911 for help, and they didn’t get it. And I know you’ve said you grieve for these four Americans, that it’s being investigated. But the families have been waiting for more than two months. So I would like to — for you to address the families, if you can: On 9/11, as commander in chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, you know, I’ll address the families not through the press. I’ll address the families directly, as I already have. And we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. That’s what the investigation is for. But as I said repeatedly, if people don’t think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who I sent there, and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the United States, then you don’t know how our Defense Department thinks or our State Department thinks or our CIA thinks. Their number one priority is obviously to protect American lives. That’s what our job is.

Now —

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, what — I’ll put forward — I will put forward every bit of information that we have. I can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my National Security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they’re safe. And that’s the same order that I would give anytime that I see Americans are in danger, whether they’re civilian or military, because that’s our number one priority.

With respect to the issue of mandate, I’ve got one mandate. I’ve got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class. That’s my mandate. That’s what the American people said. They said, work really hard to help us.

Don’t worry about the politics of it. Don’t worry about the party interests. Don’t worry about the special interests. Just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead, because we’re working really hard out here and we’re still struggling, a lot of us. That’s my mandate.

I don’t presume that because I won an election, that everybody suddenly agrees with me on any — everything. I’m more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms. We are very cautious about that.

On the other hand, I didn’t get re-elected just to bask in re- election. I got elected to do work on behalf of American families and small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession but are hopeful about the future. And — and I am too.

The one thing that, you know, I said during the campaign that maybe sounds like a bunch of campaign rhetoric but now that the campaign’s over I’m going to repeat it, and hopefully you guys will really believe me — when you travel around the country, you are inspired by the grit and resilience and hard work and decency of the American people. And it just makes you want to work harder. You know, you meet families who are — you know, have overcome really tough odds and somehow are making it and sending their kids to college. And you — you meet young people who are doing incredible work in disadvantaged communities because they believe in, you know, the American ideal and it should be available for everybody. And yeah, you meet farmers who are helping each other’s — during times of drought, and you know, you meet businesses that kept their doors open during the recession even though the owner didn’t have to take a salary.

And you — when you talk to these folks, you say to yourself, man, they deserve a better government than they’ve been getting. They — they deserve all of us here in Washington to be thinking every single day, how can I make things a little better for them? Which isn’t to say that everything we do is going to be perfect or that there aren’t just going to be some big, tough challenges that we have to grapple with.

But I do know the federal government can make a difference. We — we’re seeing it right now on the Jersey coast and in New York. People are still going through a really tough time. The response hasn’t been perfect. But it’s been aggressive and strong and fast and robust. And a lot of people have been helped because of it. And that’s a pretty good metaphor for how I want the federal government to operate generally, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it does.

Christi Parsons. Hey.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President, and congratulations, by the way.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thanks.

Q: One quick follow-up —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Christi was there in — when I was running for state Senate, so —

Q: That’s right. I was.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — Christi and I go back a ways.

Q: I’ve never seen you lose.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Inaudible) — that’s —

Q: I wasn’t looking that one time.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: There you go. (Laughter.)

Q: One quick follow-up, and then I want to ask you about Iran. I just want to make sure I understood what you said. Can you envision any scenario in which we do go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year?

And on Iran, are you preparing a final diplomatic push here to resolve the nuclear program issue, and are we headed toward one-one- one talks?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, obviously we can all imagine a scenario where we go off the fiscal — fiscal cliff. If — if despite the election, if despite the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff and — and what that means for our economy, that there’s too much stubbornness in Congress that we can’t even agree on giving middle- class families a tax cut, then middle-class families are all going to end up having a big tax hike.

And that’s going to be a pretty rude shock for them and I suspect will have a big impact on the holiday shopping season, which in turn will have an impact on business planning and hiring, and we can go back into a recession. It would be a bad thing. It is not necessary.

So I want to repeat, step number one that we can take in the next couple of weeks: Provide certainty to middle-class families — 98 percent of families who make less than $250,000 a year, 97 percent of small businesses — that their taxes will not go up a single dime next year. Give them that certainty right now. We can get that done. We can then set up a structure whereby we are dealing with tax reform, closing deductions, closing loopholes, simplifying, dealing with entitlements. And I’m ready to — and — and willing to make big commitments to make sure that we’re locking in the kind of deficit reductions that stabilize our deficit, start bringing it down, start bringing down our debt. I’m confident we can do it.

It’s — and look, I’ve been living with this for a couple of years now. I know the math pretty well. And it — it — it’s — it really is arithmetic; it’s not calculus. There are some tough things that have to be done, but there’s a way of doing this that does not hurt middle-class families, that does not hurt our seniors, doesn’t hurt families with disabled kids, allows us to continue to invest in those things that make us grow like basic research and education, helping young people afford going to college.

As we’ve already heard from some Republican commentators, a modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their backs. They’ll still be wealthy. And it will not impinge on business investment. So — so we know how to do this. This is just a matter of — of whether or not we come together and go ahead and say, Democrats and Republicans, we’re both going to hold hands and do what’s right for the American people. And I hope that’s what happens.

With respect to Iran, I very much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the problem. I was very clear before the campaign, I was clear during the campaign and I’m now clear after the campaign — we’re not going to let Iran get a nuclear weapon. But I think there is still a window of time for us to resolve this diplomatically. We’ve imposed the toughest sanctions in history. It is having an impact on Iran’s economy.

There should be a way in which they can enjoy peaceful nuclear power while still meeting their international obligations and providing clear assurances to the international community that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon. And so yes, I will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between Iran and not just us but the international community, to see if we can get this thing resolved. I can’t promise that Iran will walk through the door that they need to walk though, but that would be very much the preferable option.

Q: And the — (inaudible) — conversation picked up?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I won’t talk about the details of negotiations, but I think it’s fair to say that we want to get this resolved and we’re not going to be constrained by diplomatic niceties or protocols. If Iran is serious about wanting to resolve this, they’ll be in a position to resolve it.

Q: At one point just prior to the election, there was talk that talks might be imminent —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That was — that was not true, and it’s not — it’s not true as — as of today, OK?

Just going to knock through a couple of others. Mark Landler? Where’s Mark? There he is, right in front of me.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you’re going up to New York City, where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, as you know, Mark (sp), we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.

Now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. That will have an impact. That will a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. We doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. And we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.

But we haven’t done as much as we need to. So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary, a discussion, the conversation across the country about, you know, what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.

I don’t know what — what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because, you know, this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue. I also think there’s — there are regional differences. There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices, and you know, understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that.

I won’t go for that.

If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.

So you know, you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this — moves this agenda forward.

Q: It sounds like you’re saying, though — (off mic) — probably still short of a consensus on some kind of — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — that I’m pretty certain of. And look, we’re — we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike. Let’s see if we can resolve that. That should be easy. This one’s hard. But it’s important because, you know, one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. We’d — we just put them off as — as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now, and I think what, based on the evidence, we’re seeing is — is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if — if — if we don’t do something about it.

All right. Last question, Mark Felsenthal. Where’s Mark?

Q: Thank you. Mr. President, the Assad regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. France has recognized the opposition coalition.What would it take for the United States to do the same, and is there any point at which the United States would consider arming the rebels?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I was one of the first leaders, I think, around the world to say Assad had to go in response to the incredible brutality that his government displayed in the face of what were initially peaceful protests.

Obviously the situation in Syria’s deteriorated since then. We have been extensively engaged with the international community as well as regional powers to help the opposition. You know, we’ve committed hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to help folks both inside of Syria and outside of Syria. We are constantly consulting with the opposition on how they can get organized so that they’re not splintered and divided in the face of the onslaught from the Assad regime.

We are in — in very close contact with countries like Turkey and Jordan that immediately border Syria and have an impact, and obviously Israel, which is having already grave concerns as we do about, for example, movements of chemical weapons that might occur in such a chaotic atmosphere and that could have an impact not just within Syria but on the region as a whole.

I’m encouraged to see that the Syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they’ve had in the past. We’re going to be talking to them. My envoys are going to be traveling to, you know, various meetings that are going to be taking place with the international community and the opposition.

We consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people. We’re not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile.

But we do think that it is a broad-based, representative group. One of the questions that we’re going to continue to press is making sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria.

We have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition. And you know, one of the things that we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures, is that we’re not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do Americans harm or do Israelis harm or otherwise engage in — in actions that are detrimental to our national security. So we — we’re constantly probing and working on that issue. The more engaged we are, the more we’ll be in a position to make sure that — that we are encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights and working cooperatively with us over the long term. All right?

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.

Q: (Off mic) — on the spending side — (off mic) — on the taxing side. On the — on the spending, the 1.2 trillion (dollar) figure — is that something that you could see having a short-term postponement? Or — because earlier today you said — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out. (Laughter.) So thank you very much, guys.

Political Headlines November 14, 2012: President Barack Obama: ‘No Evidence’ National Security Imperiled in David Petraeus Scandal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: ‘No Evidence’ National Security Imperiled in Petraeus Scandal

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-14-12

ABC News

President Obama on Wednesday said he has seen “no evidence” yet that U.S. national security was jeopardized in the unfolding scandal between disgraced former CIA director David Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

“I have no evidence at this point from what I’ve seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security,” Obama told reporters at his first news conference since winning re-election….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Press Conference in East Room, White House — Answers Questions on National Security, David Petraeus, Susan Rice, Tax Cuts & Fiscal Cliff — Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Transcript of President Obama’s Press Conference

Source: NYT, 11-14-12

President Obama’s Press Conference: In his first news conference since June, President Obama faced questions on David H. Petraeus, Libya and taxes.

The following is the complete transcript of President Obama’s press conference on Wednesday in Washington. (Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.)

Related

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat.

I hear you have some questions for me — (laughter) — but let — let me just make a few remarks at the top and then I’ll open it up.

First of all, I want to reiterate what I said on Friday. Right now our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis, so our top priority has to be jobs and growth. We’ve got to build on the progress that we’ve made because this nation succeeds when we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class. And that’s the idea at the core of the plan that I talked about on the campaign trail over the last year — rewarding manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs here, not overseas; providing more Americans the chance to earn (sic) the skills that businesses are looking for right now; keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology and clean energy; putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges and our schools; and reducing our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

Now, on this last item, we face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs, taxes and deficits by the end of the year. Both parties voted to set this deadline and I believe that both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way.

Yesterday I had a chance to meet with labor and civic leaders for their input. Today I’m meeting with CEOs of some of America’s largest companies. And I’ll meet with leaders of both parties of Congress before the week is out because there’s only one way to solve these challenges, and that is to do it together.

As I’ve said before, I’m open to compromise and I’m open to new ideas. And I’ve been encouraged over the past week to hear Republican after Republican agree for the need for more revenue from the wealthiest Americans as part of our arithmetic if we’re going to be serious about reducing the deficit because when it comes to taxes, there are two pathways available.

Option one, if Congress fails to act by the end of this year, everybody’s taxes will automatically go up, including the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year and the 97 percent of small businesses who earn less than $250,000 a year. That doesn’t make sense. Our economy can’t afford that right now. Certainly no middle-class family can afford that right now.

And nobody in either party says that they want it to happen. The other option is to pass a law right now that would prevent any tax hike whatsoever on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. And by the way, that means every American, including the wealthiest Americans, get a tax cut. It means that 98 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of all small businesses won’t see their taxes go up a single dime.

The Senate has already passed a law like this. Democrats in the House are ready to pass a law like this. And I hope Republicans in the House come on board too. We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. We should at least do what we agree on, and that’s to keep middle-class taxes lower. And I’ll bring everyone in to sign it right away so we can give folks some certainty before the holiday season.

I won’t pretend that figuring out everything else will be easy, but I’m confident we can do it and I know we have to. I know that that’s what the American people want us to do. That was a very clear message from the election last week. And that was the message of a letter that I received over the weekend. It came from a man in Tennessee who began by writing that he didn’t vote for me, which is OK.

But what he said was even though he didn’t give me his vote, he’s giving me his support to move this country forward. And he said the same to his Republican representatives in Washington. He said that he’ll back each of us, regardless of party, as long as we work together to make life better for all of us. And he made it clear that if we don’t make enough progress, he’ll be back in touch.

So my hope, he wrote, is that we can make progress in light of personal and party principles, special interest groups and years of business as usual. We’ve got to work together and put our differences aside. I couldn’t say it better myself. That’s precisely what I intend to do. And with that, let me open it up for your questions.

And I’m going to start off with Ben Feller of AP.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Can you assure the American people that there have been no breaches of national security or classified information in the scandal involving Generals Petraeus and Allen? And do you think that you, as commander in chief, and the American people should have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I have no evidence at this point, from what I’ve seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security. Obviously, there’s an ongoing investigation. I don’t want to comment on the specifics of the investigation. The FBI has its own protocols in terms of how they proceed. And you know, I’m going to let Director Mueller and others examine those protocols and make some statements to the public generally.

I do want to emphasize what I’ve said before. General Petraeus had an extraordinary career.

He served this country with great distinction in Iraq, in Afghanistan and as head of the CIA.

By his own assessment, he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as the director of CIA with respect to this personal matter that he is now dealing with with his family and with his wife. And it’s on that basis that he tendered his resignation, and it’s on that basis that I accepted it. But I want to emphasize that, from my perspective at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done. And my main hope right now is — is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.

Q: What about voters? Do they deserve to know?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, again, I think you’re going to have to talk to the FBI in terms of what their general protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation. And one of the challenges here is — is that we’re not supposed to meddle in, you know, criminal investigations. And that’s been our practice. And you know, I think that there are certain procedures that both the FBI follow or DOJ follow when they’re involved in these investigations. That’s traditionally been how we view things, in part because people are innocent until proven guilty. And we want to make sure that we don’t prejudge these kinds of situations. And so my expectation is — is that they followed protocols that they already established.

(Inaudible) — Jessica Yellin. Where’s Jessica? Right there.

Q: Mr. President, on the fiscal cliff — two years ago, sir, you said that you wouldn’t extend the Bush-era tax cuts, but at the end of the day, you did. So respectfully, sir, why should the American people and the Republicans believe that you won’t cave again this time?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, two years ago the economy was in a different situation. We were still very much in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And ultimately, we came together, not only toe extend the Bush tax cuts, but also a wide range of policies that were going to be good for the economy at the point — unemployment insurance extensions, payroll tax extension — all of which made a difference, and is a part of the reason why what we’ve seen now is 32 consecutive months of job growth, and over 5 1/2 million jobs created, and the unemployment rate coming down.

But what I said at the time is what I meant, which is this was a one-time proposition. And you know, what I have told leaders privately as well as publicly is that we cannot afford to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. What we can do is make sure that middle-class taxes don’t go up.

And so the most important step we can take right now, and, I think, the foundation for a deal that helps the economy, creates jobs, gives consumers certainty, which means gives businesses confidence that they’re going to have consumers during the holiday season, is if we right away say 98 percent of Americans are not going to see their taxes go up; 97 percent of small businesses are not going to see their taxes go up.

If we get that in place, we are actually removing half of the fiscal cliff. Half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step.

And what we can then do is shape a process whereby we look at tax reform, which I’m very eager to do. I think we can simplify our tax system. I think we can make it more efficient. We can eliminate loopholes and deductions that have a distorting effect on our economy.

I believe that we have to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our entitlements, because health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.

So there is a package to be shaped, and I’m confident that parties — folks of good will in both parties can make that happen. But what I’m not going to do is to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent that we can’t afford and, according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy.

Q: You’ve said that the wealthiest must pay more. Would closing loopholes instead of raising rates for them satisfy you?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that there are loopholes that can be closed, and we should look at how we can make the process of deductions, the filing process easier, simpler.

But when it comes to the top 2 percent, what I’m not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it, which would cost close to a trillion dollars. And it’s very difficult to see how you make up that trillion dollars, if we’re serious about deficit reduction, just by closing loopholes in deductions. You know, the math tends not to work.

And I think it’s important to establish a basic principle that was debated extensively during the course of this campaign.

I mean, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. This was — if there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and Mr. Romney, it was, when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a balanced, responsible approach, and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more.

I think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me, not — by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.

So we’ve got a clear majority of the American people who recognize if we’re going to be serious about deficit reduction, we’ve got to do it in a balanced way.

The only question now is, are we going to hold the middle class hostage in order to go ahead and let that happen? Or can we all step back and say, here’s something we agree on. We don’t want middle- class taxes to go up. Let’s go ahead and lock that in. That will be good for the economy. It will be good for consumers. It will be good for businesses. It takes the edge off the fiscal cliff. And let’s also then commit ourselves to the broader package of deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes and it includes, potentially, tax reform, as well as I’m willing to look at additional work that we can do on the discretionary spending side.

So I want a — a big deal. I want a comprehensive deal. I want to see if we can, you know, at least for the foreseeable future provide certainty to businesses and the American people, so that we can focus on job growth, so that we’re also investing in the things that we need.

But right now what I want to make sure of is, is that taxes on middle-class families don’t go up, and there’s a very easy way to do that. We could get that done by next week.

OK. Lori Montenegro, Telemundo.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. On immigration reform, the criticism in the past has been that you did not put forth legislation with specific ideas and send it up to the Hill. This time around, you have said again that this will be one of the top priorities for a second term. Will you then send legislation to the Hill. And exactly what do you envision is broad immigration reform? Does that include a legalization program? And also, what lessons, if any, did Democrats learn from this last election and the Latino vote?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think what was incredibly encouraging was to see a significant increase in Latino turnout. This is the fastest-growing group in the country. And you know, historically what you’ve seen is Latino vote — vote at lower rates than the broader population. And that’s beginning to change. You’re starting to see a sense of empowerment and civic participation that I think is going to be powerful and good for the country.

And it is why I am very confident that we can get immigration reform done. You know, I — before the election, I had given a couple of interviews where I had predicted that the Latino vote was going to be strong and that that would cause some reflection on the part of Republicans about their position on immigration reform. I think we’re starting to see that already. I think that’s a positive sign.

This has not historically been a partisan issue. We’ve had President Bush, John McCain and others who have supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past. So we need to seize the moment.

And my expectation is is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration. And in fact, some conversations, I think, are already beginning to take place among senators and congressmen and my staff about what would this look like.

And when I say comprehensive immigration reform and — is very similar to the outlines of previous efforts at comprehensive immigration reform; I think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we’ve taken, because we have to secure our borders. I think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. And I do think that there should be a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here simply to work. It’s important for them to pay back taxes, it’s important for them to learn English, it’s important for them to potentially pay a fine, but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country, I think is very important.

Obviously, making sure that we put into law what — the first step that we’ve taken administratively dealing with the DREAM Act kids is very important as well. One thing that I’m — I’m very clear about is that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own, who have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to our flag, who want to serve in our military, who want to go to school and contribute to our society, that they shouldn’t be under the cloud of deportation, that we should give them every opportunity to earn their citizenship.

And so, you know, there are other components to it, obviously. The business community continues to be concerned about getting enough high-skill workers. And I am a believer that if you’ve got a Ph.D. in physics or computer science, who wants to stay here and start a business here, we shouldn’t make it harder for him to stay here. We should try to encourage him to contribute to this society.

I think that the agricultural sector obviously has very specific concerns about making sure that they’ve got a workforce that helps deliver food to our tables.

So there are going to be a bunch of components to it, but I think whatever process we have needs to make sure border security is strong, needs to deal with employers effectively, needs to provide a pathway for the undocumented here, needs to deal with the Dream Act kids. And I think that’s something that we can get done.

Chuck Todd. Where’s Chuck?

Q: Mr. President, I just want to follow up on a — both Ben’s question and Jessica’s question. On — having to do with Ben’s question, are you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: How about Lori’s question? Do you want to follow up on that one too? (Laughter.)

Q: I — you know, no, you — I feel like you answered that one completely. (Laughter.)

Are you withholding judgment on whether you should have known sooner that there was a potential — that there was an investigation into whether your CIA director — potentially there was a national security breach with your CIA director? Do you believe you should have known sooner, or are you withholding judgment until the investigation is complete on that front?

And then the follow-up to Jessica’s question: tax rates. Are you — is there no deal at the end of the year if tax rates for the top 2 percent aren’t the Clinton tax rates, period, no if, ands or buts? Any room in negotiating on that specific aspect of the fiscal cliff?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I am — I am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. You know, we don’t have all the information yet. But I want to say that I have a lot of confidence generally in the FBI, and they’ve got a difficult job. And so I’m going to wait and see to see if there’s any other —

Q: (Off mic) — though that you should have known? Do you think in hindsight — (inaudible) — have known?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I mean, Chuck, what I’ll — what I’ll say is that if — it is also possible that had we been told, then you’d be sitting here asking a question about, why were you interfering in a criminal investigation? So, you know, I think it’s best right now for us to just see how this whole process unfolded.

With respect to the tax rates, I — I just want to emphasize: I am open to new ideas. If the Republican counterparts or some Democrats have a great idea for us to raise revenue, maintain progressivity, make sure the middle class isn’t getting hit, reduces our deficit, encourages growth, I’m not going to just slam the door in their face. I want to hear — I — I want to — I want to hear ideas from everybody.

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well — look, I believe this is solvable. I think that fair-minded people can come to an agreement that does not cause the economy to go back into recession, that protects middle- class families, that focuses on jobs and growth and reduces our deficit. I’m confident it can be done.

My budget, frankly, does it. I understand that — I don’t expect the Republicans simply to adopt my budget. That’s not realistic. So I recognize that we’re going to have to compromise. And as I said on election night, compromise is hard. And not everybody gets a hundred percent of what they want, and not everybody’s going to be perfectly happy.

But what I will not do is to have a process that is vague, that says we’re going to sort of, kind of raise revenue through dynamic scoring or closing loopholes that have not been identified.

And the reason I won’t do that is because I don’t want to find ourselves in a position six months from now or a year from now where, lo and behold, the only way to close the deficit is to sock it to middle-class families or to burden families that have disabled kids or, you know, have a parent in a nursing home, or suddenly we’ve got to cut more out of our basic research budget that is the key to growing the economy in the long term.

So that’s my concern. I’m less concerned about red lines per se. What I’m concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren’t paying more or aren’t paying as much they should; middle-class families, one way or another, are making up the difference. That’s the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long, and that’s exactly what I argued against during this campaign. And if there’s — one thing that I’m pretty confident about is the American people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. They want compromise. They wanted action. But they also want to make sure that middle-class folks aren’t bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and that’s going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations but, more importantly, during the next four years of my administration.

Nancy Cordes.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

Q: Mr. President, on election night you said that you were looking forward to speaking with Governor Romney, sitting down in the coming weeks to discuss ways that you could work together on this nation’s problems. Have you extended that invitation? Has he accepted? And in what ways do you think you can work together?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, we haven’t scheduled something yet. I think everybody forgets that the election was only a week ago. And I know I’ve forgotten. (Laughter.) I forgot on Wednesday. (Chuckles, laughter.) So you know — (chuckles) — I think everybody needs to catch their breath. I — I’m sure that Governor Romney is spending some time with his family. And my hope is, before the end of the year, though, that we have a chance to — to sit down and talk.

You know, there — there are certain aspects of Governor Romney’s record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful. And well, to give you one example, I do think he did a terrific job running the Olympics. And you know, that skill set of trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government. There are a lot of ideas that I don’t think are partisan ideas but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer-friendly? How can we make sure that, you know, we’re consolidating programs that are duplicative? You know, how can we eliminate additional waste?

He — he presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that I actually agree with. And so it’d be interesting to talk to him about something like that. There may be ideas that he has with respect to jobs and growth that can help middle-class families that I want to hear. So you know, I’m not — I’m not either prejudging what he’s interested in doing, nor am I suggesting I’ve got some specific assignment. But I — what I want to do is to — is to get ideas from him and see if — see if there are some ways that we can potentially work together.

Q: But when it comes to your relationships with Congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard over the past few years from members on both sides is that you haven’t done enough to reach out and build relationships. Are there concrete ways that you plan to approach your relationships with Congress in the second term?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Look, I think there’s no doubt that I can always do better. And so I will, you know, examine ways that I can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody, so long as its advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class and improving our economy.

You know, I’ve got a lot of good relationships with folks both in the House and the Senate. I have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. It hasn’t always manifested itself in the kind of agreements that I’d like to see between Democrats and Republicans, and so I think all of us have responsibilities to see if there are things that we can improve on. And I don’t exempt myself from needing to, you know, do some self-reflection and see if I can improve our working relationship.

There are probably going to be still some very sharp differences. And as I said during the campaign, there are going to be times where there are fights. And I think those are fights that need to be had. But what I think the American people don’t want to see is a focus on the next election instead of a focus on them. And I don’t have another election.

And you know, Michelle and I were talking last night about, you know, what an incredible honor and privilege it is to be put in this position. And there are people all across this country, millions of folks who’ve worked so hard to help us get elected. But there are also millions of people who may not have voted for us but are also counting on us.

And you know, we take that responsibility very seriously. I take that responsibility very seriously. And I hope and intend to be an even better president in the second term than I was in the first.

Jonathan Karl.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham both said today that they want to have Watergate-style hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and said that if you nominate Susan Rice to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination. As Senator Graham said, he simply doesn’t trust Ambassador Rice after what she said about Benghazi. I’d like your reaction to that. And would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I’m not going to comment at this point on various nominations that I’ll put forward to fill out my Cabinet for the second term. Those are things that are still being discussed.

But let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

And you know, we’re after an election now. I think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi, and I’m happy to cooperate in any ways that Congress wants. We have provided every bit of information that we have, and we will continue to provide information. And we’ve got a full-blown investigation, and all that information will be disgorged to Congress.

And I don’t think there’s any debate in this country that when you have four Americans killed, that’s a problem. And we’ve got to get to the bottom of it, and there needs to be accountability. We’ve got to bring those who carried it out to justice. They won’t get any debate from me on that.

But when they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me. And should I choose — if I think that she would be the best person to serve America in the capacity — the State Department, then I will nominate her. That’s not a determination that I’ve made yet.

Yeah. Ed Henry.

Q: I want to take Chuck’s lead and just ask a very small follow- up, which is whether you feel you have a mandate, not just on taxes, but on a range of issues, because of your decisive victory. But I want to stay on Benghazi, based on what John (sp) asked, because you said, if they want to come after me, come after me. I wanted to ask about the families of these four Americans who were killed. Sean Smith’s father, Ray, said he believes his so basically called 911 for help, and they didn’t get it. And I know you’ve said you grieve for these four Americans, that it’s being investigated. But the families have been waiting for more than two months. So I would like to — for you to address the families, if you can: On 9/11, as commander in chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, you know, I’ll address the families not through the press. I’ll address the families directly, as I already have. And we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. That’s what the investigation is for. But as I said repeatedly, if people don’t think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who I sent there, and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the United States, then you don’t know how our Defense Department thinks or our State Department thinks or our CIA thinks. Their number one priority is obviously to protect American lives. That’s what our job is.

Now —

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Ed, what — I’ll put forward — I will put forward every bit of information that we have. I can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my National Security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they’re safe. And that’s the same order that I would give anytime that I see Americans are in danger, whether they’re civilian or military, because that’s our number one priority.

With respect to the issue of mandate, I’ve got one mandate. I’ve got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class. That’s my mandate. That’s what the American people said. They said, work really hard to help us.

Don’t worry about the politics of it. Don’t worry about the party interests. Don’t worry about the special interests. Just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead, because we’re working really hard out here and we’re still struggling, a lot of us. That’s my mandate.

I don’t presume that because I won an election, that everybody suddenly agrees with me on any — everything. I’m more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms. We are very cautious about that.

On the other hand, I didn’t get re-elected just to bask in re- election. I got elected to do work on behalf of American families and small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession but are hopeful about the future. And — and I am too.

The one thing that, you know, I said during the campaign that maybe sounds like a bunch of campaign rhetoric but now that the campaign’s over I’m going to repeat it, and hopefully you guys will really believe me — when you travel around the country, you are inspired by the grit and resilience and hard work and decency of the American people. And it just makes you want to work harder. You know, you meet families who are — you know, have overcome really tough odds and somehow are making it and sending their kids to college. And you — you meet young people who are doing incredible work in disadvantaged communities because they believe in, you know, the American ideal and it should be available for everybody. And yeah, you meet farmers who are helping each other’s — during times of drought, and you know, you meet businesses that kept their doors open during the recession even though the owner didn’t have to take a salary.

And you — when you talk to these folks, you say to yourself, man, they deserve a better government than they’ve been getting. They — they deserve all of us here in Washington to be thinking every single day, how can I make things a little better for them? Which isn’t to say that everything we do is going to be perfect or that there aren’t just going to be some big, tough challenges that we have to grapple with.

But I do know the federal government can make a difference. We — we’re seeing it right now on the Jersey coast and in New York. People are still going through a really tough time. The response hasn’t been perfect. But it’s been aggressive and strong and fast and robust. And a lot of people have been helped because of it. And that’s a pretty good metaphor for how I want the federal government to operate generally, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it does.

Christi Parsons. Hey.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President, and congratulations, by the way.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thanks.

Q: One quick follow-up —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Christi was there in — when I was running for state Senate, so —

Q: That’s right. I was.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: — Christi and I go back a ways.

Q: I’ve never seen you lose.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Inaudible) — that’s —

Q: I wasn’t looking that one time.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: There you go. (Laughter.)

Q: One quick follow-up, and then I want to ask you about Iran. I just want to make sure I understood what you said. Can you envision any scenario in which we do go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year?

And on Iran, are you preparing a final diplomatic push here to resolve the nuclear program issue, and are we headed toward one-one- one talks?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, obviously we can all imagine a scenario where we go off the fiscal — fiscal cliff. If — if despite the election, if despite the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff and — and what that means for our economy, that there’s too much stubbornness in Congress that we can’t even agree on giving middle- class families a tax cut, then middle-class families are all going to end up having a big tax hike.

And that’s going to be a pretty rude shock for them and I suspect will have a big impact on the holiday shopping season, which in turn will have an impact on business planning and hiring, and we can go back into a recession. It would be a bad thing. It is not necessary.

So I want to repeat, step number one that we can take in the next couple of weeks: Provide certainty to middle-class families — 98 percent of families who make less than $250,000 a year, 97 percent of small businesses — that their taxes will not go up a single dime next year. Give them that certainty right now. We can get that done. We can then set up a structure whereby we are dealing with tax reform, closing deductions, closing loopholes, simplifying, dealing with entitlements. And I’m ready to — and — and willing to make big commitments to make sure that we’re locking in the kind of deficit reductions that stabilize our deficit, start bringing it down, start bringing down our debt. I’m confident we can do it.

It’s — and look, I’ve been living with this for a couple of years now. I know the math pretty well. And it — it — it’s — it really is arithmetic; it’s not calculus. There are some tough things that have to be done, but there’s a way of doing this that does not hurt middle-class families, that does not hurt our seniors, doesn’t hurt families with disabled kids, allows us to continue to invest in those things that make us grow like basic research and education, helping young people afford going to college.

As we’ve already heard from some Republican commentators, a modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their backs. They’ll still be wealthy. And it will not impinge on business investment. So — so we know how to do this. This is just a matter of — of whether or not we come together and go ahead and say, Democrats and Republicans, we’re both going to hold hands and do what’s right for the American people. And I hope that’s what happens.

With respect to Iran, I very much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the problem. I was very clear before the campaign, I was clear during the campaign and I’m now clear after the campaign — we’re not going to let Iran get a nuclear weapon. But I think there is still a window of time for us to resolve this diplomatically. We’ve imposed the toughest sanctions in history. It is having an impact on Iran’s economy.

There should be a way in which they can enjoy peaceful nuclear power while still meeting their international obligations and providing clear assurances to the international community that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon. And so yes, I will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between Iran and not just us but the international community, to see if we can get this thing resolved. I can’t promise that Iran will walk through the door that they need to walk though, but that would be very much the preferable option.

Q: And the — (inaudible) — conversation picked up?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I won’t talk about the details of negotiations, but I think it’s fair to say that we want to get this resolved and we’re not going to be constrained by diplomatic niceties or protocols. If Iran is serious about wanting to resolve this, they’ll be in a position to resolve it.

Q: At one point just prior to the election, there was talk that talks might be imminent —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That was — that was not true, and it’s not — it’s not true as — as of today, OK?

Just going to knock through a couple of others. Mark Landler? Where’s Mark? There he is, right in front of me.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you’re going up to New York City, where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, as you know, Mark (sp), we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.

Now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. That will have an impact. That will a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. We doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. And we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.

But we haven’t done as much as we need to. So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary, a discussion, the conversation across the country about, you know, what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.

I don’t know what — what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because, you know, this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue. I also think there’s — there are regional differences. There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices, and you know, understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that.

I won’t go for that.

If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.

So you know, you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this — moves this agenda forward.

Q: It sounds like you’re saying, though — (off mic) — probably still short of a consensus on some kind of — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — that I’m pretty certain of. And look, we’re — we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike. Let’s see if we can resolve that. That should be easy. This one’s hard. But it’s important because, you know, one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. We’d — we just put them off as — as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now, and I think what, based on the evidence, we’re seeing is — is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if — if — if we don’t do something about it.

All right. Last question, Mark Felsenthal. Where’s Mark?

Q: Thank you. Mr. President, the Assad regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. France has recognized the opposition coalition.What would it take for the United States to do the same, and is there any point at which the United States would consider arming the rebels?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I was one of the first leaders, I think, around the world to say Assad had to go in response to the incredible brutality that his government displayed in the face of what were initially peaceful protests.

Obviously the situation in Syria’s deteriorated since then. We have been extensively engaged with the international community as well as regional powers to help the opposition. You know, we’ve committed hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to help folks both inside of Syria and outside of Syria. We are constantly consulting with the opposition on how they can get organized so that they’re not splintered and divided in the face of the onslaught from the Assad regime.

We are in — in very close contact with countries like Turkey and Jordan that immediately border Syria and have an impact, and obviously Israel, which is having already grave concerns as we do about, for example, movements of chemical weapons that might occur in such a chaotic atmosphere and that could have an impact not just within Syria but on the region as a whole.

I’m encouraged to see that the Syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they’ve had in the past. We’re going to be talking to them. My envoys are going to be traveling to, you know, various meetings that are going to be taking place with the international community and the opposition.

We consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people. We’re not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile.

But we do think that it is a broad-based, representative group. One of the questions that we’re going to continue to press is making sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria.

We have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition. And you know, one of the things that we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures, is that we’re not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do Americans harm or do Israelis harm or otherwise engage in — in actions that are detrimental to our national security. So we — we’re constantly probing and working on that issue. The more engaged we are, the more we’ll be in a position to make sure that — that we are encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights and working cooperatively with us over the long term. All right?

Q: (Off mic.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.

Q: (Off mic) — on the spending side — (off mic) — on the taxing side. On the — on the spending, the 1.2 trillion (dollar) figure — is that something that you could see having a short-term postponement? Or — because earlier today you said — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out. (Laughter.) So thank you very much, guys.

Political Headlines November 13, 2012: President Barack Obama, Political Allies Meet to Discuss ‘Fiscal Cliff’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama, Political Allies Meet to Discuss ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-13-12

Pulling together some of the coatition that backed his re-election, President Obama on Tuesday is summoning organized labor and some progressive policy groups to the White House to consult on the “fiscal cliff” ahead.

The meeting will include more than 10 labor and progressive leaders, including Mary Kay Henry, SEIU; Lee Saunders, AFSCME; Dennis Van Roekel, NEA; Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO; Neera Tanden and John Podesta, Center for American Progress; Bob Greenstein, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities; Laura Burton Capps, Common Purpose Project; Max Richtman, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare; Justin Ruben, MoveOn; and Deepak Bhargava, Center for Community Change….READ MORE

Political Headlines November 12, 2012: GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss Says ‘Put Politics Aside’ to Avoid ‘Fiscal Cliff’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Senator Says ‘Put Politics Aside’ to Avoid ‘Fiscal Cliff’

With the “fiscal cliff” looming, there was plenty of talk Sunday by members of both political parties of reaching a deal to avoid spending cuts and tax hikes that some economists say could plunge the country back into recession.

“We need to put politics aside.  The election is over.  President Obama has won,” Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said on ABC’s This Week….READ MORE

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