February 6th, 2010
01:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama exhorts Democrats to stay 'steady' and 'focused'


President Obama addressed the DNC Winter meeting Saturday. (Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - President Obama on Saturday defended his party's efforts to shore up America's battered economy and exhorted his fellow Democrats to stay steady and focused in the face of grassroots restlessness.

"Everything we've done over the past year has been not only to right our economy, to break the back of this recession, but also to restore some of the security of middle-class families had felt slipping away for over a decade now," Obama said, speaking at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting.

"Some of the steps we took were done without the help of the other party, which made a political decision all too often to jump in the back seat, let us do the driving, and then critique whether we were taking the right turns," he said.

Obama worked to buck up his party members, urging them to get behind his agenda and continue efforts to develop societal remedies. The president listed accomplishments during his first year, citing almost $300 billion in tax relief, tax cuts for small businesses and people, a credit card bill of rights, and foreign policy strides. He also said health care reform is still on the table.

"Just in case there's any confusion out there, let me be clear," Obama said. "I am not going to walk away from health insurance reform."

High unemployment, widespread mortgage foreclosures, a diminishing tax base in cities and states have frustrated Americans, and the president said citizens have been "outraged" that the administration has been focusing on bank bailouts. However, he added that the resentment is misplaced because his bailout efforts prevented more job losses and foreclosures.

"The real outrage is that we had to do it in the first place in order to fend off the collapse of the financial system. That's the outrage," he said, saying that the country can't return to the "dereliction of duty that helped deliver this recession."

Obama mentioned last week's meeting with the House Republicans, a nationally televised give-and-take that the president called "a robust debate."

He said it's important to find agreement whenever possible.

"Some issues Democrats and Republicans just don't see eye to eye on. That's how democracy works. But there have to be some issues on which we can find common ground. it's one thing to disagree on principle.

Obama's remarks come on the heels of a new Labor Department report indicating that the national unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent to 9.7 percent in January.

He proposed a series of steps to support small business, such as taking $30 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP money to create a lending fund for small businesses.

Programs like that would help spark job creation, he said Saturday during his weekly address.

"To give these companies greater incentives to grow and create jobs, I've proposed a new tax credit for more than one million small businesses that hire new workers or raise wages, as well as the elimination of all capital gains taxes on small business investment," Obama said, urging both Democrats and Republicans to put their heads together on legislation addressing the issue.

In the Republican Saturday address, U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said Democrats last year promised more jobs and said unemployment would remain below 8 percent with their stimulus legislation.

"Americans are still asking, 'where are the jobs? Where are the jobs?' But all they are getting from Washington is more spending, more taxes, more debt and more bailouts."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Don in Albuquerque

    Why bother now" The present administration was trusted, made promises, and they (as usual for Dems) Whimped Out. Entire bunch need voted out of office.

    February 6, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  2. jules sand-perkins

    The DNC is on exactly the right track to making its best possible contribution to this country in 2010 and in 2012.
    Hopefully, President Obama will campaign IN PERSON for every Democratic candidate in every state.

    February 6, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  3. A. Smith, Oregon

    CNN should help to organize a 'COFFEE PARTY' to counter the utter absurdity of the 'tea party wing-nuts' who appear to be directly speaking for massive corporations in America that are protesting the loss of their Bush jr. tax breaks under the Obama administration.

    'Coffee Party' for a safe and sane expansion and use of Federal Govt. partnership with Americans would be a welcomed addition to the political landscape in my opinion.

    I agree that some government agency's could be joined together to save money, however across the board gutting of essential services and removal of supportive government agency's would greatly increase the misery factor sweeping America at this time.

    February 6, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    Here's the top 10 Obama accomplishments the DNC celebrated with Barry in his first year.

    1. Blame Bush

    2. Blame Bush

    3. Blame Bush

    4. Blame Bush

    5. Blame Bush

    6. Blame Bush

    7. Blame Bush

    8. Blame Bush

    9. Blame Bush

    10. Blame Bush

    February 6, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. Coletek

    Things i don't understand....
    > why does it sound like he's still blaming Bush...a year later?
    > why isn't Obama admitting the real reason why people in this country are currently frustrated is because he decided to ignore the majority when we said priority # 1 is the economy/jobs, not Healthcare. More govt resources should have been working on the economy vs Healthcare in 2009.
    > Why doesn't Obama seem to get that no one is saying healthcare shouldn't be addressed or changed....all we've been saying AND SAYING for over a year now is that we think he, his administration and the rest of govt should have made the economy/jobs priority #1 not healthcare. Fix the economy/jobs and then spend more time/effort on healthcare.
    > Why does Obama think when he says he understands that life is hard for people who are losing their jobs that that is enough vs making the economy/jobs priority #1 in 2009. To those that lost their jobs, they saw all of govt spend months and months on healthcare vs figuring out more and more ways to infuse incentives into the economy to help people keep their jobs. If he had, then instead of 9.7 unemployment, maybe it could have been 8.0%.
    > Why does Obama in one sentence accuse the republicans of not wanting to help at all and in a few sentences later, stress the importance of reaching out to the other side...does he really think thats the way to go about getting their involment?
    > why does Obama think endorsing a full year of closed door meetings, no republicans invited to participate in policy making on healthcare and then talk about the importance of bipartisan efforts.
    (for goodness sakes, i heard Biden had a meeting on transparency...that took place behind closed doors. If thats true, thats just obsurd).
    > Why does Obama only include republicans in things like a white house lunch or a "Question" time vs opening doors to policy making meetings....does he really think these meaningless gestures are enough to convince them that they are in fact being included?

    > Why does Obama not get that things like a conservative republican winning in a predominantly dem state and a grass roots movement like the Tea Party only occur when the voice of the majority is ignored. For the past year and 1/2, Republicans and Democrats and Indenpendents told all of govt that the economy/Jobs are priority #1 not healthcare. Did it matter...no.
    > Why does Obama think being clever and funny at the podium is enough....people need to WORK then they need healthcare. Even if he disagrees with that, that is what we all told him and we now feel frustrated from being ignored. Here's a good test...feel free to test it on anyone in order to determine which people think of as higher priority. Ask yourself or anyone on the street in which order do they prefer to have first...a job or healthcare? I'm willing to bet a majority will say, they need a job FIRST then figure out how to get healthcare. Its a priority thing not an either or thing.
    > And finally, why does Obama still not get that we're STILL frustrated..and its not because of George Bush. Own up, make our priority your priority, be real about including the Republicans if you want their help, and ask Rohm to look up the word transparency. You all seemed to know the definition before the election....not sure what happened.

    February 6, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Mare

    If you are one of the PEOPLE you stand among them not above them, Oh boy, let me be clear, what a joke on us:

    February 6, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. Annie, Atlanta

    That would be nice, if they actually listened to him. But apparently keeping your job in Washington is way more important than actually doing the job for which you were elected. And now, thanks to the Supreme Court, keeping that job is going to be even more lucrative than ever and doing that job will entail keeping corporate masters happy, first and foremost. We're screwed.

    February 6, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. bb

    Pass bills with Executive Power and 50 + 1 vote.
    Forget Bipartisan for now and get the things we voted for done. Once that's taken care of, then you can try to work on Bipartisanship again. Right now, we are running out of time.
    JUST DO IT!!!!!

    February 6, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. eolufemi

    Republicans should be brought up on charges of treason. These guys are sabotaging the country's recovery. I suspect that their threats of secession because they lost power are real. They are willing to destroy the country because they lost the election. They are despicable and its about time we called them on their lack of patriotism.

    February 6, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    There's no other choice but to stay steady and strong: We all know that all the Republicans have to offer our country are the same old, tried-and-failed policies that took our country down the toilet.

    The Republican leadership wants to give tax cuts to the wealthy, who use that money to either hide it in Swiss bank accounts or build factories overseas where labor is cheap and environmental protections are non-existent. Meanwhile, Americans here lose their jobs.

    Republicans want to continue letting the health insurance company bureaucrats decide who lives and who dies, while paying their CEOs on average $14 million a year.

    Republican military, economic or foreign policies are proven failures – no amount of lies, distortions, fear-mongering, hate and division will change those FACTS.

    So stay strong, Democrats – we are counting on you to continue the clean-up of the Bush/Cheney mess!

    February 6, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. one voice

    The Dems need to stick together because the Republicans have nothing to offer the average American. Corporate America's goal is to dominate the middle class and drive the minimum wage to $4.00 per hour. Kings and Servants is the ultimate goal, they need to be stopped before it's too late!!!

    February 6, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. phoenix86

    Yes Obama and dems, stay focused on anything but the voters. Just like you've done for the past year.

    February 6, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. mavcal

    Actually, the way the Democrats should stay steady and focused is to stop listening to Obama's rhetoric. They actually need to detach themselves from him. This has been the problem with health care – which brought on Scott Brown. I think the honeymoon is definitely over and the Democrats need to accept that Obama is turning out to be a big bag of wind.

    February 6, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. Mike in MN

    It's great to see that Obama is now supporting the same Republican proposals for business tax cuts that he has repeatedly rejected in the past as the failed Bush/Republican policies that got us into this mess in the first place. It is great to see that Obama appears to be changing his mind and now agrees with Republicans that tax cuts can help grow the economy and help create jobs.
    I suspect this would have never come to pass if Brown had not won in Mass.
    Strange though that Obama still is trashing Republicans everytime he speaks. Guess he really does not want to improve the civility in D.C afterall.
    In any case I am sure Republicans will be making a big deal on how happy they are that Obama now supports their tax cut proposals that he perviously rejected as bad policy. If Obama would stop trashing them everyday, they might even make this point nicely.
    Wonder how Obama will explain this to his progressive base that these are now good tax cuts and not bad ones?
    Now if Obama will just admit the Republicans are right that spending should be cut now, drop cap and trade and start over on health care reform, Republicans might just take that hand Obama says he is extending.

    February 6, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. Tur-r-r-n Out the Lights....

    the party's over...

    February 6, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. Paul from Phoenix

    Yup, stay focused on that path that has proven to work so well, like it did in NJ, Virginia and MA. Keep on that path!

    February 6, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. southern cousin

    Yes liberals, don't change follow you inept, incompetent leader to election disaster.

    February 6, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. Texas Jack

    They are they show up every month for their welfare check and food stamps.

    February 6, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. Bucket List

    There are 6 months between now and Labor Day.

    Democrats in Congress .... what legislative victories do you want to be able to brag about after LABOR DAY when you are campaigning for re-election?

    Might I suggest

    Pass a law that prevents corporations (foriegn & domestic) from funding (also known as buying influence in) American elections

    Pass a law that gives the President the ability to veto certain portions of a bill while leaving the rest intact.

    Help the Justice Department prosecute and imprision a significant number of terrorists currently being held by the US.

    Pass a law that requires all public corporations to ammend their letter to shareholders to include a table showing the base salary, cash bonus, stock and stock options granted to their top 50 executives. Require that these be expressed per dollar of profit so that comparisons can be made with other firms.

    February 6, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    The president and his party still "doesn't get it". But that is surely his right; to ignore the very clearly indicated will of the American people. His radical progressive agenda is not favored by anyone but his liberal progressive base. There has been gentle signals to that effect, but they choose to ignore them. November isn't that far away.

    February 6, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. Thank you Massachusetts

    Yeah stay "steady and focused"; don't get distracted by what your constituents want/demand. Stick with Obama and you can go down with his ship. If you don't think most of America are now wise to and fed up with his plans for this country then perhaps you should go down with his ship.

    February 6, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  22. ran

    It is now time for the Democrats to use the reconciliation process and just get things done.

    If they had done this before August 2009 on health care we would now have health care for all and the likes of Lieberman/Nelson and blue dogs would not have been able to make the unwise deals they did so Reid could get his 60 votes. Which cause a lot of people being upset but not at those who were really at fault: The Republicans' use of the filibuster.

    The Republicans now have no intentions or incentive to work with this President or the Democrats because of their mistaken understanding of what the ill informed voters did in Ma.

    Come Nov. 2010 I believe and hope the people will open their eyes and ears and say no to the fear/hate/obstructionism/purist ideology of the Republicans. If not we as a country are going to be in deep trouble.

    February 6, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  23. Mike in MN

    A new poll shows just how far out of touch Obama and his liberal/progressive friends in the House and Senate are.
    94% of Republicans and 91% of independents blame politicians unwillingness to cut spending on the enormous deficits. Even 66% of Democrats agree.
    Over 90% of both Republicans and independents think government does not handle the tax payers money well. Just 54% of Democrats agree.
    There are a lot more Republicans and independent voters than there are Democrats and even a majority of Democrats share the same views as Republicans and independents on these two questons.
    I would love to see Obama do a town hall that was not just in front of partisian Democrats but instead equal parts Republicans, independents and Democrats and sell his new 3.8 trillion dollar budget. See how many cheers there are when he tells them how he has to increase spending by 300 billion over last year. See how many cheers there are when he tells them the 2010 deficit in a year of projected economic growth will be 1.56 trillion, 256 billion more than recession year 2009. See how many cheers he gets when he grandstands about all the deficit reduction measuers there are in his budget. See how many cheers he gets when he tells them his promise to freeze spending on a small part the budget in 2011 is proof he is serious about controling spending.
    Republicans are going to be campaigning in 2010 to cut spending by 100s of billions now. Just what 90% of independents and even a majority of Democrats want to hear.
    Mean time Obama will be bragging about his 3.8 trillion budget with it's 2010 deficit of 1.56 trillion and projected 2011 deficit of 1.3 trillion.
    Liberal/progressive House and Senate Democrats can start packing now.

    February 6, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. S Wise

    I was privilaged to be able to watch Prez this morning on TV. I do agree wtih him when he said that he "inheritated" the mess that the nation is in, and I wonder why the GOP forgot that they (or rather their prez) created this mess. Pres Obama, keep up the good work,and remember that there are a lot of folks that are even lower than the middle class that need to survive, too. God bless the USA

    February 6, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  25. Plato

    Obama 2012, 2016, and then we should change the constitution to keep him for another 30 years thereafter. He gets it.

    February 6, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
1 2