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Liveblogging the President's Press Conference

Posted By Rory Cooper On March 24, 2009 @ 5:53 pm In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

Tonight, we will be liveblogging President Barack Obama’s second primetime news conference. In his first news conference, President Obama fielded a small amount of questions ranging from the economy to Alex Rodriguez and gave ten minute answers to each one. We’re hoping for shorter answers tonight so reporters will have more opportunities to hold the President accountable for his massive tax and spend budget, his continued embrace of government bailouts and intervention in our lives and businesses and to ensure that the President, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid slow down and allow the American people to see the laws they are passing that pay the mortgages of the irresponsible and create huge national spending plans for health care, education and energy. The stimulus bill passed with barely a person having read it, leading to the AIG bonus mess, how many more bills will pass without oversight?

Hit the Refresh button on this page to get the updates. We’ll timestamp our updates so you can follow along at home. Enjoy.

8:00: The President is making his way to the podium. No teleprompter in view but sources at the White House confirm (and twitpics support) that there is a head-on teleprompter in the back of the room.

8:02: “strategy… to help responsible homeowners” Responsible homeowners do deserve relief, he’s right. Unfortunately, the Housing bill that he, Pelosi and Reid want to pass crams down irresponsible mortgages. It destabilizes the entire housing industry by allowing bankruptcy judges to unilaterally renegotiate the principle on defaulting mortgages. I don’t think high interest rates, closing costs and an unstable housing market is the relief Americans are looking for.

8:02: 95% of Americans will in fact have their taxes raised due to the extraordinary “carbon tax” that will raise household costs between $600 and $1200 a year.

8:04: “The budget I submitted to Congress will build our economic recovery on a stronger foundation…” Actually, the President’s budget will leave permanent deficits averaging $600 billion even after the economy recovers and doubles the publicly held national debt to over $15 trillion ($12.5 trillion after inflation).

8:04: Every time President Obama says “Invest” you should hear “Spend.” Unless he explains how his plans are going to give you a return on your taxes, “investments” is code for “taxes.”

8:05: He says “at the end of the day, the best way to bring our deficit down in the long run is not with a budget that continues the very same policies that led to a narrow prosperity and massive debt.”

8:05: What? That is precisely what he is proposing. His budget adds $10 trillion to the national debt. It took Americans 220 years to build an $8 trillion debt. Obama would more than double it in just a decade. Obama is doubling down on the borrow-spend-bailout policies that got us here. How does he define change?

8:05: Interesting how anyone can complain about the debt Bush left us with and then counter with policies that have already quadrupled the deficit.

8:06: Obama says “it will take patience.” The same patience that has caused trillions of dollars in spending in less than 8 weeks? They certainly weren’t patient with the Stimulus bill, which nobody read including the Finance Committee Chairman, allowing Senator Dodd and Secretary Geithner to insert provisions protecting AIG bonuses without anyone the wiser.

8:07: “renewed determination…renewed confidence that a better day will come.” Great! Hopefully by renew he means Washington will stop controlling taxpayer dollars and businesses and they’ll give the power back to the people through spending caps and tax cuts. That would be renewal. THAT would inspire confidence.

8:08: Questions! Starting with AP from the list. Paraphrasing (all night) Why should people sign on to more sweeping authority for government. Good question. Obama says people should understandably want to restructure contracts. He says we need to obtain the authority to undermine contracts. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked so far, and won’t in the future.

8:10: Question from Chuck Todd (NBC) – why haven’t you asked the American people to sacrifice? The real answer to this question is, he plans to. The American people will pay for it through high taxes to pay for the high spending. The President note the everyday sacrifices of Americans, which is true during this recession. But a national health care plan is not the answer to their everyday worries.

8:13: Todd follows up (I think the press corps is going to demand follow ups tonight). Is there a Call to Action? Obama says the steps they are taking will stabilize economy and American people should work hard, look after their families and still contribute to their economy and volunteer. Worthy items to ask. But with less money in their pocket, hard to ask.

8:15: “Serious energy policy that frees ourselves of dependence on foreign oil”

8:15: President Obama’s idea of serious energy policy is to double the size of the Department of Energy, who don’t have the manpower to even handle that money, and then pick and choose niche energy producers that fit an “environmentalist” mold, without any concern for taxpayer costs.

8:16: He said himself that “electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket” in the short term. Perfect timing for that.

8:16: “a new energy era” means energy taxes and an extreme environmentalist agenda, regardless of cost.

8:18: Chip Reid (CBS) asks President that debt will increase by $7 to 9.5 trillion. Isn’t that exactly what you were talking about with next generation.

8:18: And he does the same answer as always. Blames Republican Congress for inherited debt (even though Democrats controlled both chambers last couple years) and then avoids the simple logical reason why multiplying debt helps solve the problem of the current debt.

8:20: Obama says: Nobody knows what will happen 6, or 8, or 10 years from now. Um, CBO does. And so does the Heritage Foundation.

8:21: Obama says: Where is the Republicans alternative budget? The answer is, it’s coming. And hopefully he considers it. He then talks about cutting defense, and eliminating programs.

8:23: Chip Reid follows up, ‘you’re debt goes up, up, up’. Yup.

8:24: Obama says as a percentage of GDP, they are reducing non-discretionary spending to lowest levels since 1960′s. President Bush became the first President to spend 3% of GDP funding on federal antipoverty programs. Obama has increased this spending by 20%. There is more where that came from.

8:26: Border issues. Heritage Senior Fellow James Carafano was down at the border seeing the problem first hand last week and his posts on the Foundry are illuminating.

8:27: Stars and Stripes asks about massive defense cuts for important programs. Obama answers by saying there are veterans affairs spending increases. The American Legion would disagree. Last week they fought with the President over his plan to take veterans off VA healthcare rolls and onto their own private insurance. I think Veterans would also have a problem with him cutting missile defense and other critical weapons and defense programs. Troops now are veterans later.

8:30: Defense spending as a percentage of GDP is at an all-time low, and we’re fighting a two front war. A 4% of GDP baseline would be a simple solution.

8:32: Question: Back to AIG. Why did it take you a few days to be outraged. And you keep saying you inherited a fiscal mess, but aren’t your daughters getting an even bigger mess? (paraphrasing)

8:33: Obama says this is hard work (reminding us of old SNL skits where “Bush” would say, ‘this is hard work’)

8:33: Obama answers by rattling off his normal list of health care, energy, etc. etc. Answering neither question. ‘Doing things that cost alot on the front end, and hopefully cost less on the back end.’ That is hope only he believes in.

8:35: Back to AIG. “It took us a couple days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.” Steve Kroft might ask at this point if he is “punch drunk”.

8:36: Laughing about AIG bonuses is always a bad idea.

8:37: Goals of the G20 summit, ‘create jobs, avoid protectionism’. Unfortunately the Stimulus Bill, Omnibus and Budget already created jobs in other countries through overextended environmental regulations and created a protectionist atmosphere with Mexico, by ignoring NAFTA. Mexico certainly feels Obama is protectionist.

8:39: Mike Allen of Politico asks a great question (as always). Do you regret cutting deductions for charities? Obama says ‘no’. He says wealthy people have had a great time of it lately and deserve to have their rates cut to 1980′s levels. He doesn’t really answer how that affects charities. At least there will be a government health care plan to do the work private charities do now.

8:40: He once again says that people should give the same amount regardless, completely missing the logical economic point that the deduction allows them more of their own money to give. It isn’t about cynical rich people, it’s about letting citizens use their own money towards charities.

8:43: After Mike Allen follow up, Obama says charities are wrong that this will affect them. I guess the Special Olympics have nothing to worry about. He says best thing for charities is a good economy. Best thing right now is no new taxes actually.

8:44: Homelessness question leads Obama back to Veterans. I wish the American Legion felt as strongly about his veterans policies as he does.

8:45: Question on race from Ann Compton elicits vague answer from Obama, probably rightly so. However, he may also have been asked about Attorney General Holder calling America a “nation of cowards” on race. That would have been a noteworthy question.

8:47: Stem cell funding question is a “legitimate question” to Obama. He reverts to the “hard work” answer and then says there should be strong moral guidelines for stem cell issues, abortion, etc. And that his guidelines meet that moral test. Unfortunately his budget irresponsibly deals with this issue.

8:49: Last question (already?): A foreign policy question on Israel from a British reporter (?). He deems that the status quo is unacceptable. He then compares Israel and Palestine to Ireland and Northern Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day which may be considered by some as naive.

8:54: He pivots to Geithner having a bank plan, and his video with Iran. Networks show Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel looking on nervously.

8:56: He is confident they are working in the right direction.

8:56: Press Conference Over. Analysts immediately focus on teleprompter.

8:57: Overall, the reporters did a fine job tonight delivering some tough questions. Kudos especially to Chip Reid, Mike Allen, Ed Henry and others who held the President accountable on an irresponsible budget that doesn’t look into the future (by the President’s own admission tonight) and doesn’t account for its affect on American taxpayers.

9:00: In the end, Americans across the country who are rallying together by the thousands in “Tea Parties” are right to be concerned with the dangerous path of taxing and spending we are on. The President’s budget returns us to the economic policies of the Jimmy Carter era which resulted in high recession rates, high inflation, high interest rates and a stagnant stock market. We didn’t get enough explanation tonight on why after an $800 billion stimulus bill, the President’s budget increases spending by $1 trillion over ten years, includes an additional $250 billion placeholder for another bailout even while current bailouts spiral out of control, and calls for pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) laws while astonishingly violating that rule by $3.4 trillion. But hopefully there will be more press conferences, more questions, and more accountability. Goodnight, and thanks for following.


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