His mood seemed humble, hopeful yet determined. The Prez believes he’s doing the right things for the American people and is sticking to his plan to get us back on track. He’d like to try to work with Republicans where possible:
I think that making sure that families had security and were on a trajectory to lower health care costs was absolutely critical for this country. But you are absolutely right that when you are navigating through a House and a Senate in this kind of pretty partisan environment that it’s a ugly mess when it comes to process. And I think that is something that really affected how people viewed the outcome. That is something that I regret — that we couldn’t have made the process more — healthier than it ended up being. But I think the outcome was a good one.
With respect to the EPA, I think the smartest thing for us to do is to see if we can get Democrats and Republicans in a room who are serious about energy independence and are serious about keeping our air clean and our water clean and dealing with the issue of greenhouse gases — and seeing are there ways that we can make progress in the short term and invest in technologies in the long term that start giving us the tools to reduce greenhouse gases and solve this problem.
The EPA is under a court order that says greenhouse gases are a pollutant that fall under their jurisdiction. And I think one of the things that’s very important for me is not to have us ignore the science, but rather to find ways that we can solve these problems that don’t hurt the economy, that encourage the development of clean energy in this country, that, in fact, may give us opportunities to create entire new industries and create jobs that — and that put us in a competitive posture around the world.
So he’s willing to sit down with Republicans who are cool and not crazy. Fair enough. He also said this:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I want to ask if you’re going to have John Boehner over for a Slurpee, but I actually have a serious question.
THE PRESIDENT: I might serve — they’re delicious drinks. (Laughter.)
Q The Slurpee Summit.
THE PRESIDENT: The Slurpee Summit — that’s good, Chuck. I like that. (Laughter.)
Um, will they be orange or creamsicle slurpees? Which was a reference to this specific question (emphasis mine):
Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to do a personal and policy one as well. On personal, you had a lot of fun on the campaign trail by saying that the Republicans were drinking a Slurpee and sitting on the sidelines while you were trying to pull the car out of the ditch. But the point of the story was that you said if you want to go forward, you put the car in “D”; if you want to go backwards, you put it in “R.” Now that there are least 60 House districts that seem to have rejected that message, is it possible that there are a majority of Americans who think your policies are taking us in reverse? And what specific changes will you make to your approach to try to fix that and better connect with the American people?
To which he responded:
Yes. And I think, look, here’s the bottom line. When I came into office, this economy was in a freefall, and the economy has stabilized. The economy is growing. We’ve seen nine months of private sector job growth. So I think it would be hard to argue that we’re going backwards. I think what you can argue is we’re stuck in neutral. We are not moving the way we need to, to make sure that folks have the jobs, have the opportunity, are seeing economic growth in their communities the way they need to. And that’s going to require Democrats and Republicans to come together and look for the best ideas to move things forward.
It will not be easy, not just because Democrats and Republicans may have different priorities, as we were just discussing when it came to how we structure tax cuts, but because these issues are hard.
The Republicans throughout the campaign said they’re very concerned about debt and deficits. Well, one of the most important things we can do for debt and deficits is economic growth. So what other proposals do they have to grow the economy? If, in fact, they’re rejecting some of the proposals I’ve made, I want to hear from them what affirmative policies can make a difference in terms of encouraging job growth and promoting the economy — because I don’t think that tax cuts alone are going to be a recipe for the kind of expansion that we need.
From 2001 to 2009, we cut taxes pretty significantly, and we just didn’t see the kind of expansion that is going to be necessary in terms of driving the unemployment rate down significantly.
So I think what we’re going to need to do and what the American people want is for us to mix and match ideas, figure out those areas where we can agree on, move forward on those, disagree without being disagreeable on those areas that we can’t agree on. If we accomplish that, then there will be time for politics later, but over the next year I think we can solidify this recovery and give people a little more confidence out there.
Among other things, he hinted at ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the military during the lame duck session before Congress changes hands. Which is ok by me — it’s way past time to end the unnecessary, unpatriotic and unpopular discrimination.
Anyway, read all the Prez’s remarks here — it’s worth it…
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