WASHINGTON–President Obama, who campaigned for two years calling for a new era of bi-partisanship, all but conceded Monday night at his first White House press conference that the gargantuan recession busting stimulus bill pending before Congress won’t have much GOP support.
The pragmatic Obama-with three Republicans in his cabinet– as much said that bi-partsianship will, if need be, left for another day because of the economic crisis facing the nation.
The House version of the spending and tax cut legislation designed to create jobs and spur spending passed with no GOP votes. The Senate today (Tuesday) is poised to approve its version with three Republican moderates.
“I can’t afford to see Congress play the usual political games. What we have to do right now is deliver for the American people,” Obama said.
“So my bottom line when it comes to the recovery package is send me a bill that creates or saves 4 million jobs, because everybody has to be possessed with a sense of urgency about putting people back to work, making sure that folks are staying in their homes, that they can send their kids to college.
“That doesn’t negate the continuing efforts that I’m going to make to listen and engage with my Republican colleagues. And hopefully the tone that I’ve taken, which has been consistently civil and respectful, will pay some dividends over the long term,” he said.
Obama bristled at the suggestions that he did not do enough to forge a bi-partsian consensus in drafting the $800 billion plus stimulus package.
“Now, just in terms of the historic record here, the Republicans were brought in early and were consulted.”
The magnitude of the economic collapse is dominating Obama’s presidency–three weeks old today–in a way he never imagined.
“I’d — you know, this notion that somehow I came in here just ginned up to spend $800 billion, you know, that — that wasn’t — that wasn’t how I envisioned my presidency beginning. But we have to adapt to existing circumstances.”
The dire economy—bad and likely getting worse–dominated the 59 minute session, with an eight minute opening statement.
Obama took questions from 14 journalists, recognizing along with national print and broadcast outlets the internet based Huffington Post. The publication was supportive of Obama during the primary and general campaigns.
Obama’s answer to the Huffington Post reporter–about whether he supported a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Bush era war crimes–will aggravate some of his diehard Democratic backers. Said Obama, “My general orientation is to say let’s get it right moving forward.”