December 7th, 2010
01:55 PM ET
3 years ago

Highlights from President Obama's news conference

President Obama will hold a previously unscheduled news conference on Tuesday at 2:20 p.m. likely focusing on the compromise with Republicans on tax cuts, the White House announced. Check back here for CNN's live blog of the press conference.

2:52 p.m. Q: Some on the left question you core values; can you say exactly where you won't budge?
2012 – We will have had 2 years to discuss the budget – not in the abstract – but in concrete terms... Over the next 2 years they are going to have to show me what they think they can do. Became pretty clear after you go through the budget line by line that is that they want to pay for tax breaks to wealthy - that is a lot of money – corresponding cuts that would have to be made are very painful. They will need to rethink their ideas...I have a whole bunch of lines in the sand – not making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent was a line in the sand. Things that don’t impact low and middle income families. Some in congress were only talking about extending tax cuts for the wealthy.

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate during healthcare. This is the public option debate all over again.

So I pass a signature piece of legislation – but because there was a provision in there they didn’t get – that would have effected just a few million and we got insurance for 340 million – that was a sign of weakness and compromise. If that is the standard by which we are measuring success we will never get anything done. If we must keep this purist position then there will be no victories for American people ... If we want to show how tough we are but Americans will not be able to get healthcare - That cannot be the measure of how we think about our public service. What it means to be a Democrat in this diverse country. Not everyone agrees with us. They NYT editorial page doesn’t permeate across America

How to go about their lives and how to make sure their public officials are working for them. This is why FDR – when he started social security – it only affected widows and orphans. And yet now it helps a lot of people. When Medicare started it was small and it grew. In your question those were …there was a time when I couldn’t go through the front door at this country’s founding. My job is to make sure that we have a start – what is helping the American people live their lives, give them more opportunities, make them more competitive. My preferred option I may not be able to get done. This is the long fight – not the day to day news cycle. Not a single democrat out there who would look at where we started and where we are now wouldn’t say we haven’t moved in the right direction. If I haven’t gotten it done yet I’m still trying to o it. To my democratic friends let’s make sure we understand this is a long game, not a short game. To my Republicans. I’m looking forward to seeing them on the field of competition in the years ahead.

2:49 p.m. – Q: How do these negotiations affect talks with GOP on raising the debt limit?
Here is my expectation- and I’ll take Boehner at his word. Nobody, Democrat or Republican, willing to see full faith and credit of US govt collapse, that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think there will be sig discussions about debt limit vote. Not s’thing anybody likes to vote on. But once john Boehner sworn in as speaker, he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. Can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower

2:45 p.m. Q: Use 2 year window for broader overall
Yes. Part of what I want to do is to get the American people in a safe place and get the economy in a stable place and then have a broad based discussion about our priorities. I started that yesterday in North Carolina. We have had 2 years of emergency economic action on a while range of issues. The situations has stabilized except for those still out of work .We have to have a larger debate on how we will win the economic situation of the 21st century. We are behind on math and science education – what are we doing to fix? Innovation? Infrastructure? How will we pay for all of that at a time when we have short, medium, and long term deficit problems. That will be a big debate. Look at tax code – what is fair? What is efficient? I don’t think anyone thinks it is fair and efficient now. Not going to continue to borrow from China or Saudi Arabia. I don’t know how the Republican will continue to argue that extending the tax cuts are good if we have to cut vital services for our kids, veterans, elderly

2:41 p.m. Q: Aren’t you telegraphing your strategy for the Republicans?
I don’t think so. This is a very unique circumstance. 10s of millions of people would be directly and immediately damaged and at a time when the economy was going to recover. The rap on me was that I was too stubborn and not willing to budge. All of you wrote that I wouldn’t budge – but I have...I don’t make judgments on the conventional wisdom. I make judgments on what is right for the country. I will be happy to see of the Republican think I am itching for a fight – and they will find that I am. I don’t want the American people hurt because of this. There are awhile bunch of things the Republicans don’t like: earned income tax credit; Child tax credit; Tuition tax credit. Those things they really opposed. Temporarily they are willing to go with that and think they can beat me later

2:42 p.m. Q: Unemployment 7.7% in 4th quarter 2012
We might have seen unemployment go up .That is behind us now – we don’t have double digit recession. What this package does is provide an additional boost that is substantially more extensive than most expected. We may see faster growth and more job growth as a consequence of this package. Every economist I talked to said this will help economic growth over the next several months and that is the main criteria I used. The single most important jobs program is a growing economy. We can do this while bunch of other stuff but if the economy is not growing we won’t have jobs. If we were to have another 3, 4,. 5 months of uncertainly…Not only would that have a direct effect on those unemployed but in terms of macro economics – that would have been a damaging thing

2:40 p.m. Q: but how republicans can beat you, because they can just stick to their guns, be unwilling to budge-
I don’t think so, and the reason is this is a unique circumstance. Tens of billions of people would be directly damaged and immediately damaged at a time when the economy is just about to recover

2:38 p.m. Q: what do you say to democrats who say you are rewarding Republican obstructionism?
Well let me use a couple analogies-- I’ve said before that I felt middle class tax cuts were being held hostage to higher end tax cuts. Tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. And then you question the wisdom. In this case, Americans were hostage, and I did not want to see them get harmed...People barely making it on the paycheck they’ve got ...When it gets smaller on jan 1, they have to wonder how am I going to pay my bills... I could have enjoyed the battle with republicans over next month or two, because as I said, American people are on our side. Not a situation where I’ve failed to convince American people of the right-ness of our position. Not political weakness, problem is that republicans feel that this is the single most imp thing they have to fight for as a party. In light of that, would have been a protracted battle with a stronger position next year than they have currently...Deal we have struck here have made high end tax cuts temporary, which allows us to have this political battle without casualties

2:37 p.m. Q: Prepared to say unemployment to go down?
The unemployment rate will go down because economy is growing ...How fast? How quickly will the economy grow? When private sector biz make investments? Lots of economists struggling with that question ...I won’t make a prediction...This package will help strengthen the recovery

2:36 p.m. Q: What about the last 2 years?
Let me say on the GOP side this is their holy grail – tax cuts for the wealthy – their central economic doctrine ...Unless we had 60 votes in senate it would be hard to move this forward ...I would have liked to have seen a vote ...I think the democrats have better ideas – I proposal to help middle class and don’t make bush tax cvuts permanent, that that was the better position to take. But I haven’t persuaded the Republican Party – not Mitch McConnell, not John Boehner

2:35 p.m. Q: When you take a stand as you did on tax cuts, why should Americans think you won't flip flop?
This has to do with what can we get done right now. Issue, the choice, is stark. We can’t get my preferred option through the senate right now. As a consequence, and if we do nothing, then on jan one of 2011, average family will see taxes go up avg 3,000. also two million people will lose unemployment insurance. I have an option. Keep fighting a political fight, which I can’t win in the senate, and by the way more republican senators next year sworn in in January, will be diminished, I’ve got an option of holding fast to my position, and as consequence two million people may not pay their bills, and others will see their paychecks get smaller, or stick to my position that people will get help and I’ll continue to fight to make the point that the republican position is wrong.

Now if there was no collateral damage, if this was matter of my politics, or persuading American people to my side, then I would just stick to my guns. Because fact is, Americans agree with me. Polls show, they think it’s a bad idea to provide tax cuts to the American people. But republicans in the senate are blocking that position, and there is no suggestion that we can budge them right now. And in the meantime, people are being hurt and economy is damaged.

2:30 p.m – Obama: Before I answer questions. A few words ...#1 priority to do what is right for American people, jobs and economy ... 10s of millions of hardworking Americans don’t want to see pay shrink because Washington is scoring political points ...I promised during campaign as president ...2 million Americans will be able to pay rent and put food on table ...In exchange for a temporary extension ...I opposed but Republicans unwilling to budge on #1) if you are a parent trying to raiser child or pay college tuition – continue tax breaks next year #2) small biz tax cut next year #3) we will cut payroll taxes in 20100 – $1000 savings for typical family ...Real money for real people ...A real difference in the pace of job creation ...I understand the desire for a fight ...In the long run we simply cant afford them ...I will fight to end them in 2 years just like the GOP will fight to end the middle class tax cuts I proposed ...Not hear to play games with the American people...My job is to do whatever I can...To look out for middle class familes and those out of work for no fault of their own...Fighting into next year would be a bad deal for the economy and the American people...Responsibility I intend to uphold


Filed under: Live blog • President Obama • Tax deal
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