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Continued: Transcript of Obama news conference

  • Article by: , Associated Press
  • Last update: February 9, 2009 - 8:48 PM

Now, just in terms of the historic record here, the Republicans were brought in early and were consulted. And you'll remember that, when we initially introduced our framework, they were pleasantly surprised and complimentary about the tax cuts that were presented in that framework. Those tax cuts are still in there.

I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some, and then let them take credit for all of them, and maybe that's the lesson I learned. But there was consultation; there will continue to be consultation.

One thing that I think is important is to recognize that, because all these — all these items that you listed are hard, that people have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we've been carrying around for too long. And let me give you a prime example.

When it comes to how we approach the issue of fiscal responsibility, again, it's a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they've presided over a doubling of the national debt. I'm not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

Having said that, I think there are a lot of Republicans who are sincere in recognizing that, unless we deal with entitlements in a serious way, the problems we have with this year's deficit and next year's deficit pale in comparison to what we're going to be seeing 10 or 15 years or 20 years down the road.

Both Democrats and Republicans are going to have to think differently in order to come together and solve that problem. I think there are areas like education where some in my party have been too resistant to reform and have argued only money makes a difference.

And there have been others on the Republican side or the conservative side who said, No matter how much money you spend, nothing makes a difference, so let's just blow up the public school systems.

And I think that both sides are going to have to acknowledge we're going to need more money for new science labs, to pay teachers more effectively, but we're also going to need more reform, which means that we've got to train teachers more effectively, bad teachers need to be fired after being given the opportunity to train effectively, that we should experiment with things like charter schools that are innovating in the classroom, that we should have high standards.

So my whole goal over the next four years is to make sure that, whatever arguments are persuasive and backed up by evidence and facts and proof that they can work, that we are pulling people together around that kind of pragmatic agenda.

And I think that there was an opportunity to do this with this recovery package, because, as I said, although there are some politicians who are arguing that we don't need a stimulus, there are very few economists who are making that argument.

I mean, you've got economists who were advising John McCain, economists who were advisers to George Bush, one and two, all suggesting that we actually needed a serious recovery package.

And so when I hear people just saying, Ah, we don't need to do anything, This is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill, without acknowledging that, by definition, part of any stimulus package would include spending — that's the point — then what I get a sense of is, is that there's some ideological blockage there that needs to be cleared up.

But I am the eternal optimist. I think that, over time, people respond to civility and — and rational argument. I think that's what the people of Elkhart and the people around America are looking for. And that's what I'm — that's the kind of leadership I'm going to try to provide.

All right. Thank you, guys.

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