Wednesday, June 29, 2011

President Obama's Press Conference, 06/29/11

I watched President Obama’s press conference on CNN.  While I was watching it, I noticed some things on which I wanted to comment.  The press conference covered numerous topics, such as the budget, the economy, Libya, and gay marriage.  I was watching the press conference while taking notes, so I am relying solely upon my notes and my memory in writing this.  I apologize if I got something wrong or if I left out anything pertinent.

The Budget and the Economy
Obama impugned Republicans for not doing anything about the economy.  Overall, I found Obama’s analysis of the economic situation to be simplistic in that he appeared to equate cutting entitlement spending to eliminating scholarships for students, cutting funding for critical research, and asking seniors to pay more for Medicare and social security (he used these things as examples of what would happen).  He mentioned having a balanced approach, and he stressed the need for Republicans and Democrats to compromise.  He laid out on what, specifically, he was willing to compromise.  In short, his plan is to raise taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” oil companies, and people with private jets; cut defense spending; increase spending on infrastructure to create jobs; finance small businesses; reduce the debt and the deficit; and reform the tax code.  Overall, Obama stressed the importance of debt and deficit reduction as well as job creation.  Of course, Republicans have laid out a plan.  From what I can tell, these plans seem to be at odds.  It does not seem as though Obama would be willing to compromise further or address Paul Ryan’s common-sense plan to cut spending on entitlements.  My opinion is that the main priorities of the federal government of the United States should be to do what it was meant to do and not cater to the failings of its citizens.   

There is one thing Obama said that I think is important to mention.  I apologize if the quote is incorrect, but it is approximately correct.  He said, “Keep in mind, businesses always complain about regulation” and “businesses will always complain about regulation because they want to be able to do whatever they can to maximize profits” and “it is my responsibility to uphold good regulations that protect the environment and safety” and “lets get rid of regulations that don’t make sense.”  Obama speaks of profits as though they are a bad thing.  Of course businesses are going to do whatever they can to maximize profits.  And if they cannot do that in the US, they will do it somewhere else.  Profit, after all, is the point of having a business.  Again, Obama’s understanding of the economic situation is simplistic.  

Then, he talked about Boeing in South Carolina.  He said that companies should have the freedom to relocate (within the US, I presume), as long as the law is followed, and that companies should be encouraged to create jobs in the United States to maintain competition with other countries.  I agree with his general statement, but I would say that this encouragement should consist of business-friendly regulations that make companies feel as though they (specifically, their profits) would benefit from creating jobs in the country in question.  

Later in the press conference, he started talking about the debt ceiling.  He said that it needs to be raised (before the deadline when the US will reach its borrowing limit, August 2nd) to avoid more problems.  What he said was approximately “August is a hard deadline.  This is a jobs issue.  If the US government cannot pay its bills, if it defaults, the consequence for the economy will be unpredictable.  If the US government does not pay its bills, if the US has to raise interest rates to pay its bills, more people will have to pay higher interest rates which will increase economic worries.”  He then faulted Republicans for “picking and choosing” which bills to pay. 

Now, here is my favorite part.  Obama talked about his leadership concerning people that have said that his leadership has been insufficient.  He said that he has had leadership.  He then said, “At a certain point, congress members need to do their job.”  He said he is doing all the work and that congress is not doing anything.  He said they are not making tough choices and not leading.  He said that he has been working on Afghanistan, bin Laden, and Greece, and that congress needs to lead on the domestic front.  This sentiment of his is important, because this part effectively summarizes his entire presidency.  He has relied on others to lead, while he takes credit for the success of others, again reminding America that he was in charge during the death of Osama bin Laden.  He heavily criticized congress for not leading with regards to the economy, while they, unlike Democrats, have put forward a budget.  The remainder of the portion of his press conference consisted primarily of rhetoric along the lines of “we need to put aside politics to get things done” and “these are solvable problems but it requires us to get out of the short term and selfish approach that politics breeds, we need to think about it long term.”    

Obama defined the goal of the mission in Libya as protecting the Libyan people, which he said would ultimately necessitate removing Muammar Gaddafi from power.  He made clear that Gaddafi needs to go.  My question is, what about Syria?  Isn’t the situation in Syria worse than that in Libya?  If it is, and if the situation in Libya warrants military action, shouldn’t the situation in Syria also warrant military action?  The people of Syria are being slaughtered under an oppressive regime.  So, the US military (and NATO) should either commit to both Libya and Syria (if the reason for intervening in Libya is to protect the Libyan people, as the president says), just Syria (if Syrians are, in fact, in more danger than Libyans, which it seems as though they are), or neither.  

Gay Marriage
Obama applauded New York for its decision in legalizing gay marriage.  He said DOMA was unconstitutional and that the decision on whether or not to legalize gay marriage should be left up to the states.  I agree with this.  However, he also praised the courts and court decisions granting gay marriage as being “how the system should work.”  With this, I disagree.  Gay marriage should only be legal if the majority of the population agrees that it should or if the majority of democratically elected representatives of the population agree that it should.  He also mentioned how “gays, lesbians, and transgender” (he apparently ignored or forgot about bisexuals) should not be discriminated against (presumably by the government).  However, he also refused to state whether or not he personally supports gay marriage.  I agree that, as long as he is not pursuing an agenda, that his personal view of gay marriage is irrelevant.  He mentioned that he has accomplished more concerning gay rights during his presidency than all other presidents have. 

In conclusion, l found that what Obama said during this press conference was specious.  I agreed with some things he said (for example, he mentioned that he would like to reform the tax code to make it more efficient), but actions are needed to back up his statements. 

UPDATE: I forgot to mention  the "stimulus."  Obama spent hundreds of billions of dollars getting into this mess.  Now he is expecting Republicans to get out of it.  

UPDATE: I missed a quote from Obama's press conference that has appeared in a few places. It is along the lines of "Republicans need to ask their constituents if they are willing to sacrifice their children's safety for a tax break for corporate jet owners."  This demonstrates Obama's specious reasoning and the overall absurdity of this conference.  

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