Wednesday, October 24, 2012

President Obama: Off the record

This morning the publisher and editor of the Des Moines Register had an off-the-record interview with President Obama in order to make their decision about who the paper should endorse. Following the interview, the editor wrote a lengthy article suggesting that the content should be made public. Shortly thereafter, the Obama campaign made the entire transcript available.

I would suggest that you read the whole thing. Its nice to hear President Obama responding off the stump and outside of debate formats.

But there was one portion that particularly stood out to me. The question was about how the President would handle the partisan gridlock that has consumed Congress for the last 4 years.
In the short term, the good news is that there’s going to be a forcing mechanism to deal with what is the central ideological argument in Washington right now, and that is: How much government do we have and how do we pay for it?

So when you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place...we’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business.

It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.

And we can easily meet -- “easily” is the wrong word -- we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth. Now, once we get that done, that takes a huge piece of business off the table.
What he's saying is that the debt ceiling deal - the one where Boehner claimed he got 98% of what he wanted and WAY too many progressives called a "cave" - has provided him with the leverage to get a "grand bargain."  President Obama has known all along that facing an end to the Bush tax cuts AND a $500 billion reduction in military spending would force the Republicans to the table. When it was clear they wouldn't work with him on it in August 2011, he simply played the long game and now is comfortable predicting that they'll have no other choice in the coming months.

The second thing he mentioned might be a bit optimistic when it comes to Republicans. But its a fascinating calculation.
The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community. And this is a relatively new phenomenon. George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that done. And I want to get it done because it’s the right thing to do and I've cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008.
What he's counting on is an awakening in the Republican Party that continuing their nativist stance against undocumented workers is bound to lead them to being a permanent minority party in this country.  In other words, he thinks they'll start listening to people like Jeb Bush and immigration reform will become possible. I might not be willing to bet $10,000 of Romney's money on that - but who knows?

Anyway, there you have just a bit of a window into President Obama's thinking about a second term.


  1. BUT WHAT IF HE DOESN'T WIN? Today was the first day I allowed that possibility to enter my head. Someone reassure me, will ya? I'm panicking here. There's too much money, too many ads and lies on the other side. We could end up with a President who doesn't know where Iran and Syria are. God help us.

    Gah - now I'm sounding like all my defeatist Democrat friends I've been making fun of for the last 6 months. Save me!

    1. Stop reading the MSM.

      Hope that helps.


    2. Oh and GOTV.


    3. I already GOTV. I'm neglecting my family to GOTV. Just wish there were more I could do...

    4. The news is a great pick-me-up this morning: Obama is up to 71% likelihood of winning in Silver's model and he got Colin Powell's endorsement.

      Cheer Up and Carry On!!!!


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