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POTUS and TOTUS meet the press: Defensive about AIG, blame-card on debt, blows off charities

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 24, 2009 07:55 PM

President Obama will hold a news conference tonight in a few minutes, starting at 8pm Eastern. TOTUS is fired up and ready to go, too — but after a few opening remarks, POTUS will fly without a net.

The White House sent out a preview:

President Barack Obama looked to steer the nation’s economic attention to the bigger picture Tuesday night and away from recent days’ micro-focus on outrage over executive bonuses, declaring signs of progress as his administration attacks the crisis “on all fronts.” “It’s a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to restart lending and to grow our economy over the long term,” Obama said in remarks released in advance of his prime-time news conference.
During a crowded week for the White House and furious debate that echoed from Main Street to Capitol Hill corridors, the president sought to take a step back. He summarized the steps taken so far by his administration to address the worst economic disaster in a quarter-century, framing them with optimism.

“We will recover from this recession,” he said. “But it will take time, it will take patience and it will take an understanding that when we all work together — when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interests to the wider set of obligations we have to each other — that’s when we succeed.”

I’ll update with any gaffes or unusual occurrences (such as non-sycophantic questions from the press).

***

8:01pm Eastern. POTUS/TOTUS on economic crisis: “It took many failures to lead us here.”

And you will be victims of many more!

Obama touts the tax cuts he signed into law. ($13/week that won’t buy you earrings worth Michelle Obama’s time.)

Obama assails the “illusion of prosperity,” while he adds to the illusion.

Assails borrow and spend, while espousing more borrowing and spending.

Re. AIG bonuses: “I’m as angry as anybody.”

(But Geithner is doing a heckuva job, and I’m not letting him go!)

***

8:07pm Eastern. AP’s Jennifer Loven gets first question…why pushing for new government authority of financial institutions? “I think there’s going to be strong support for this authority.” AP: “Why should people trust govt to buy up toxic assets?”

BO basically says: Because they will.

Refers to IndyMac as a success story. Hello?

Talks about the “tools” he needs.

Tools = power/control.

***

8:15pm Eastern. Jake Tapper gets a question. Right now, Senate Dems are writing a budget not including middle class tax cut, cap and trade, and other measures. Will you sign a budget if it does not contain tax cut and cap and trade?

I expect health care reform, blah blah. “I am confident that the budget we put forward will have principles in place. Middle class tax cut will be there for next two years. Cap-n-trade – the broader principle is that we have to move to a new energy era.”

Refuses to talk more about it, since he hasn’t read it.

Basically, he’ll sign it.

***

Next q: What about the debt you are creating?

Obama goes back to his Bush’s fault card. I’m inheriting debt, so nyahnyah.

Blasts Republicans for not proposing an alternative.

But…

Here’s GOP Leader Boehner:

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today held a press briefing in advance of President Obama’s news conference scheduled for this evening. At the briefing, Boehner challenged the President’s assertions about Republicans and noted that the GOP has presented alternative ideas directly to the President on every major issue where there has been disagreement this year – and will offer a better budget solution later this week.

“I think a lot of Americans believe that our economy is in a crisis. Americans are looking to Washington for solutions. The President has offered a budget that will, in my opinion, hurt our economy and destroy the very jobs that we’re trying to save and to try to create. And I believe Republicans were offering better ideas to the President in hopes of building a better budget.

“This is today’s front page the Louisville Courier-Journal. If you read it you probably won’t be surprised that the President will probably say this again tonight in his press conference. With all due respect, Mr. President, the statement is not true, plain and simple. Your budget spends too much, it taxes too much and borrows too much from our kids and grandkids, and I believe Republicans are offering a better solution.

“Last week, I released a video — a YouTube video outlining our budget principles and laying the groundwork for the alternative budget that we will release later this week. Our alternative will create jobs by allowing American families and small businesses to keep more of what they earn, ensure that the federal budget doesn’t grow faster than the family budget, expand access to health care while preserving Social Security and Medicare, end the bailouts to protect taxpayers and reform the financial system, encourage an all-of-the-above energy strategy to make us energy independent, and to fight inflation so the prices of goods and services that American depend upon will remain stable.

“Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve offered better solutions, and the President knows that. Eric Cantor and I personally delivered to the President our stimulus proposal at the White House in January. Our plan would create twice as many jobs at half the cost as the President’s plan, and that’s even according to an economic analysis by his chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. And what was the response? The White House pretended they never even saw it.

“At a time when our economy is in serious recession, I think Americans deserve better. They need solutions, not distortions. The fact is the President’s budget spends too much, taxes too much and it borrows too much. It raises taxes on every American family and small business. It includes irresponsible levels of spending, reaching $5.1 trillion 10 years out. And if you look at the spending in this budget, you can begin to see how out of control this spending cycle is, and it doubles the debt on our kids and grandkids over the next six years. If you look at these debt figures, you can see this. This is all of the debt through 2008 that’s been accumulated in our country by 43 Presidents in 220 years in our history, and the President’s budget will double that over the next six years.

“I just think that this may be the most irresponsible piece of legislation I’ve seen in my legislative career. It’s an irresponsible plan that only makes the crisis we’re in worse. But when it’s all said and done, I think it’s time for a do-over. We need to start this budget process all over again. And I will hope that the President will work with us to build a responsible budget that will help strengthen our economy and put Americans back to work again.”

***

8:31pm Eastern. Question from Stars & Stripes on how to save money in defense budget.

Obama cites John McCain to back him up on procurement cuts.

But I thought McCain = 4 more years of Bush = Bad?
***

Q about AIG. Why is Andrew Cuomo doing more/getting more answers than you and Geithner, who were slow on the uptake? And what about debt you are creating that your daughters will inherit?

Obama ignores first question. Debt answer: It’s hard. Best way to tackle it is to reduce health care costs.

(By spending a few trillion dollars and engineering a massive govt takeover!)

Reporter follows up on AIG question, which BO didn’t answer. Why did it take you so long to respond?

Snippy: “It took a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about.”

Snorting. Out. Loud.

***

8:39pm Eastern. “I don’t believe we need a global currency.”

Politico asks about mortgage interest/charity deduction limits. Obama still supports. “It’s not gonna cripple them. They’ll still be well-to-do.”

Follow up: It’s not just the wealthy. It’s the charities.

Obama: They’re wrong.

***

8:46pm Eastern. Q: What about homelessness? Tent cities everywhere!

Obama: We’ll have more programs.

(But didn’t homelessness end with the Age of Obama?!)

***

Dumb question from Ann Compton: What about race?

Obama: I’ve been dealing with the economy.

***

8:56pm Eastern. Blahblahblah. Rambling last answer. Losing consciousness…

***

Fox News’ Bret Baier notes that NYTimes, WaPo, Times, Newsweek, big media all frozen out of q’s.

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