President Obama called on Congressional Republicans to raise taxes on “corporate-jet owners” to decrease the deficit in a press conference at the White House this morning.
Adding to his repertoire of political metaphors, the president contrasted what he considered Congress’s dillydallying on increasing the debt limit with his two daughters’ diligent school work: “Malia and Sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time. . . . They’re not pulling all nighters. They’re 13 and 10. You know, Congress can do the same thing. If you know you’ve got to do something, just do it.”
When asked whether August 2 really was the cut-off date for a deal, Obama answered, “The yellow light is flashing but it hasn’t been a red light yet. . . . By August 2, we run out of tools to make sure that all our bills are paid.” If the U.S. defaults, “the consequences for the U.S. economy will be significant and unpredictable.”
“It would be nice if we could keep every tax break there is,” Obama said earlier, warning that if Congress did, “that means we have to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship” and that “food safety may be compromised” among other unpopular spending cuts.
Citing former GOP senators Alan Simpson and Pete Domenici, Obama insisted that “every single observer . . . who’s not a politician says we can’t reduce our deficit in the scale or scope that we need to without having a balanced approach that looks at everything.”
“So we’re going to keep having these conversations,” he said, “and my belief is the Republican leadership in Congress will hopefully sooner rather than later come to the conclusion that they need to make the right decisions for the country.”
Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd about New York’s new gay-marriage law, Obama avoided a direct answer, but hinted at his approval, saying “I think we’re moving in a direction of greater equality and I think that’s a good thing.”
When the Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler asked a follow-up question about his personal beliefs on marriage, Obama dodged by joking, “I’m not going to be making news on that today.”
Later, the president, who stressed he would revise any cumbersome regulations, flashed his frustration with the business community’s complaints about red tape. “The business community is always complaining about regulations,” he sighed. “Because frankly they want to be able to do whatever they think is going to maximize their profits.”
He gave a tepid defense of Boeing in its recent dustup with the National Labor Relations Board. After cautioning that the NLRB is “an independent agency” and the case was “up for a judge to decide,” he said, “What I think defies common sense would be a notion that we would be shutting down a plant or laying off workers because labor and management can’t come to a sensible agreement.”
Turning to Afghanistan, the president explained his draw down of troops in that country “after ten very long years.” The drawdown would operate in a “responsible way,” the president stressed, and put pressure on al-Qaeda until that network was “entirely defeated.”
“Kabul is much safer than it was,” Obama argued, when asked about news of a recent terrorist attack on a hotel in the Afghan capital. But “our work is not done.” Of Afghanistan and Iraq, the president counseled, “These are still countries that are digging themselves out of a lot of war.”
Asked whether Moammar Qaddafi’s ouster was necessary in Libya, Obama said he hoped the leader would step down and maintained, “He needs to go.”
Returning to the economy, Obama repeated some of his suggestions to reboot the private sector: keeping the payroll-tax holiday for another year, passing free-trade agreements, and expediting the patenting process — all things, he claimed, that Congress could do “right now.”