During his interview with Steven Kroft of “60 Minutes” President Obama spoke of his accomplishments, the reality of dealing with Congressional Republicans and the 2012 Election. However, most of the interview was about the jobs and the economy.
Video from CBS News:
The economic situation was dire after years of Republican economic policies. The economy shrunk by 9% during the 3 months and four million jobs were lost before Obama took office. Another four million jobs were lost in the first three months of the Obama administration. The economy was showing some signs of recovery within six months after Obama’s policies kicked in. Nine months after that we were seeing some job creation. And despite the Republicans repeated obstructionism, we have had 21 months of job growth in the private sector. But, the President acknowledged this isn’t enough for people who need a job now. It isn’t enough for people whose incomes remain stagnate or decline while the costs of living go up.
“So, does that make people feel better? No. You know, we did all the right things to prevent a great depression and to get the economy growing again and to get job creation going again.
But it hasn’t made up for the hole that was created in those six, nine, 12 months before my economic policies took effect. Now the second challenge, though, is a set of structural problems in the economy that date back ten years, 15 years — where wages and incomes haven’t been going up — that were papered over because the housing bubble was going on and people could borrow from their homes and use credit cards.”
Then there’s the political problem: A stalemate between the President and Congressional Republicans. Let’s be real here. We hold the President accountable when unemployment is high and the economy is weak. The Republicans know it and so does the President.
“Well, I think that when I came into office in 2008, it was my firm belief that at such an important moment in our history, there was no reason why Democrats and Republicans couldn’t put some of the old ideological baggage aside and focus on common sense, what works, practical solutions to the tough problems we were facing. And I think the Republicans made a different calculation, which was, “You know what? We really screwed up the economy. Obama seems popular. Our best bet is to stand on the sidelines, because we think the economy’s gonna get worse, and at some point, just blame him.”
From that perspective, much of what has occurred during the past two years makes sense. It explains Republican reversals on policies they previous supported. It explains why they want the economy to be THE issue of 2012.
However, the Republicans also have some political problems, which have not gone unnoticed by the President: namely that the path to economic recovery requires a balanced approach in which everyone does their part. President Obama has advocated a balanced approach involving spending cuts which he acknowledges are unpopular within the Democratic Party and tax increases on the uber rich. While Republicans support cuts, cuts and more cuts they have resisted any and all efforts to increase revenues, even the slightest.
“And we ended up asking the wealthiest Americans to do a little bit more in terms of taxes. Going back to rates that would still be lower than they were under Ronald Reagan, our deficit problems would be solved. And I could not get Republicans to go ahead and say, “You’re right. We’re gonna put country ahead of party.”
The 2012 election also explains why Republicans hope that we will forget the President’s foreign policy accomplishments.
They tried to attack Obama’s foreign policy credentials during the 2008 election. A notable example was this comment by Frank Lutz on Fox.
“But let’s face it. He doesn’t have foreign policy experience. He hasn’t run a government, he hasn’t run a business. Doesn’t that concern you? It does.”
The Republicans hope we won’t remember Obama’s foreign policy and national security accomplishments. They minimized the president’s role when Osama Bin Laden was killed. They did the same thing, when Gaddafi’s rule over Libya ended with his death.
“Not only did we manage our national security at a time where there were severe threats and two wars going on, in a way that has made America stronger and more respected and put us in a better strategic position around the world and almost decimated our number one enemy, which is al Qaeda –“
Ironically, former President Bush was more gracious, as reported by CBS News:
“I felt a sense of closure. And I felt a sense of gratitude,” Mr. Bush said when asked about Bin Laden’s death for the National Geographic Channel’s special tied to the 10th anniversary of September 11th”
Republicans also hope that we will forget how they rejected policies primarily or exclusively because the President was for them.
The most recent example of this was seen in the Super Committee negotiations.
“What we heard from both Democrats and Republicans, who were on the super committee, was it wouldn’t necessarily be helpful for me to interject myself into the debate, precisely because of the dynamic in the Republican Party right now. Which is, if I’m for it, it’s very hard for Republicans to be for it, as well. They’ve gotta be against it. And so the thinking here was what we didn’t want to do is create a dynamic where actually solving the problem would be considered an Obama victory that would help him somehow in 2012.”