Yesterday, without his trusty TelePrompTer, President Barack Obama walked in to the GOP dragon’s den, made his plea and statement to the Republican Party, and then basically said “bring it on”, I’m ready for you! It was masterful. Republican House leaders were schooled by a wise and powerful leader.
First there was Obama’s State of the Union address that challenged the GOP to work with him on solving the nation’s issues while reprimanding the Supreme Court’s conservative majority on their decision to remove limits on corporate campaign contributions. Obama then entered the GOP’s lion’s den for a face to face confrontation without a TelePrompTer.
Other Presidents have addressed the GOP conference before but this was the first time it was nationally televised which I’m sure the GOP seriously regrets. The President walked in and made his plea and statement to the Republican Party and then basically said “bring it on”, I’m ready for you! It was masterful.
Obama said, “Keep your friends close and visit the GOP conference every few months!”
The President was strong, confident and well-informed beyond the attacks disguised as questions by various GOP leaders who were prepared but failed to embarrass and shut down the President. It was as if Obama was waiting for this opportunity to finally challenge the misleading claims directly for the world to see.
The GOP would rather be seen as obstructionists than to see Obama and the Democrats get any policies through congress.
First up was Mike Pence of Indiana, chairman of the conference, who came out attacking and accusing the President of creating the ten per cent unemployment rate after the stimulus plan.
Obama roared back that Mike is surely not trying to blame the high rate of unemployment on his administration because it took place in the quarter prior to his stimulus package. Obama admitted that his administration, along with everyone else, had under estimated how severe the job loss would be. But the fact is that the extreme growth of unemployment took place as a result of the Bush administration and prior to the approval of the stimulus package or any stimulus plan that the GOP presented as well.
Most economists understand the stimulus was a requirement to reduce the bleeding. Mike also requested “across the board” tax cuts because everyone likes them.
In regard to the attack on the stimulus, Obama had no problem in correcting the accusations with the facts and then dared the GOP to go against them right there on live TV. He was knowledgeable and fully prepared and addressed the following boldly, loudly and clearly:
Obama said, “The notion that the stimulus package was radical is just not true!” He went on to include the following.
About a third of the stimulus package were tax cuts for ninety five percent of working Americans and small businesses.
Another third of the stimulus was to assist the states in stabilizing their budgets and preventing more layoffs of the jobs of teachers, firefighters and cops or otherwise the GOP would have been going back to their constituents facing a lot more anger and despair.
A big chunk went to COBRA and Unemployment insurance to help put a floor under individual Americans who needed it and to have a little money in their pockets.
Another portion went to Infrastructure that supposedly the GOP was not against. Obama noted clearly that a lot of the GOP in the conference had gone to ribbon cutting events for Infrastructure Stimulus projects that they voted against.
Billions went to AMT (alternative minimum tax) that was not even Obama’s proposal that keeps putting potential tax hikes off that are embedded in the budget.
Obama said the components of the Recovery Act are consistent with what many of the GOP say they want to do especially when the roof was caving in. There were no credible economists who could back up what the GOP was claiming. Obama says in terms of “across the board” tax cuts, he would need to see the math that could balance the deficit at the same time. He may not be willing to give a tax cut to a billionaire like Warren Buffett or to the big banks. Obama also fires back, “in the area of deficits and debt, there has been a tendency toward inconsistent statements.”
Paul Ryan is a congressman from Wisconsin and ranking member of the budget committee. His underlying claim and premise was that the increase in budget on the past year was 84 percent. And why can’t the freeze on spending be immediate?
Obama said it was more of an automatic stabilizer to kick in before he took office.
A lot of these things are set up automatically. The freeze can’t take place immediately. The consensus among those who know the economy best, say it would have a destabilizing effect when the economy has not fully taken off. That’s why it is proposed for the next year. In regards to the line by line earmarks, those are a problem for both parties and their pet projects. “Sunshine is the best disinfectant” claims Obama. All earmarks should be transparent so the public can see who is doing what. The President appears to know a lot more than some of the people who bring up the questions.
Jason Chaffetz, freshman congressman from Utah, oversight and government reform committee questioned the CSPAN issue, lobbyists, and HCR. Obama said, first of all, in regards to CSPAN and HCR, Obama replied that overwhelmingly the truth of the matter is, the majority of it was on CSPAN because the GOP participated on several committees that helped to shape this bill. Countless hearings took place. Obama kicked it off with many of the GOP leaders. Obama takes responsibility for not structuring the messy process better logistically. Then he asked the freshman what is he doing personally to help this process along?
In terms of lobbyists, he could honestly say that no administration has been as tough on lobbyists as his administration. Those whose terms carried over, he did not get rid of but that changes as terms run out. He has been very consistent in this matter. Barack Obama is not afraid! By the way, I would like to add that this same freshman congressman from Utah was one of the GOP, along with Michelle Bachman, and (you lie) Joe Wilson who voted against the airport scanners that would have probably revealed the explosives of the underwear bomber.
The claims against the HCR bill were addressed by Obama. Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee made claims that they were not being heard. I would like to add that even though she has been in congress for eight years under the GOP leadership, that she had never pushed for healthcare reform on this level under the Bush administration. Obama acknowledged that he had reviewed their proposal before and a lot more. Some of the ideas have been embraced and incorporated. Obama said if they could show him or present something that is feasible by healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, who know the system and how it works, ways of reducing premiums, ways of covering those with no insurance, having more affordable plans for small businesses, insurance reforms for those with pre-existing conditions, coverage not dropped because people are sick, young people covered right out of college, choice in competition, and other components he had already discussed, then he is game!!! Obama declared that the current HCR bills that include these components had been demonized by the GOP.
I could go on and on with this televised moment in American history. Of course FOX news refused to carry the entire broadcast and decided to show sound bytes instead. They were misleading in their reports on the conference as usual. Other GOP leaders went on to question the President and one by one Obama knocked them off with the truth and a real strong and sincere fighting spirit.
They were schooled by a wise and powerful leader. If you get a chance to see this conference, please watch history in the making. The GOP talking points were meaningless without the usual media support to let their statements stand as fact.
The President was smart to challenge the GOP in their own lion’s den and to really tell the facts and go face to face against the leaders and their misleading claims. Obama exposed the GOP for who they are and for wanting all or nothing as well as being intent-fully obstructive. They are accusing Obama of some wild-eye plot that Obama declares leaves very little room for working with him by their own construction.
President Obama concludes that they were not sent to Washington to fight in some steel cage match to see who comes out alive. They were sent to Washington to work together to get things done. This current process is not healthy or productive. Obama says close the gap between rhetoric and reality and let’s get things done for the American people.
So to the GOP, walk in the room and negotiate or walk away without helping the American taxpayer. We must demand that the GOP work on behalf of the American people and not just their upcoming elections. Obama urged the GOP to work with him and not against him. Let’s sincerely solve some serious problems.