Obama News Conference: Economy A Hot Topic
LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
At this moment at the White House, President Barack Obama is giving a nationally televised news conference. For the third time this week, he's speaking about the economy. He announced a new head of the Counsel of Economic Advisors, Austan Goolsbee, already one of the president's advisors on the economy. And the president continued to press his case that Republicans are responsible for the bad economy, and they are presenting no new ideas on how to fix it.
President BARACK OBAMA: If the election is about the policies that are going to move us forward versus the policies that will get us back into a mess, then I think the Democrats will do very well.
WERTHEIMER: President Obama speaking this hour at the White House. NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson, has been monitoring the president's remarks and joins us now.
Mara, the president said this morning that he could have a middle class tax cut next week if a minority of Republicans would not hold it up.
MARA LIASSON: Thats right. The president is using this press conference to make his case about the big tax cut debate that's kind of the final big debate going into this November election. And the president basically said we agree on something very big. We all agree that the middle class tax cuts enacted under George W. Bush should continue. So let's let them continue and let's have a further discussion, he says, about giving $700 billion adding $700 billion in the deficit to give tax cuts to millionaires. And he said that's a bad idea, and he's been saying that on the campaign trail. He said that again today several times.
And this was another venue for him to make this argument, which he and the Democrats believe is a very good one for them, going into the fall campaigns.
WERTHEIMER: So far, though, they haven't made much progress, and many Americans tell pollsters that they are prepared to make that change, to change back.
LIASSON: Yes. Many Americans tell pollsters that they prefer the Republicans, and Democrats are facing what could be a real wipe-out in November, possible loss of one or both houses of Congress. And that's why the president this week is really ramping up his efforts on the campaign trail. This press conference is part of that. He has a new economic message. He has a package of tax cuts. He one the big one is to extend the middle class tax cuts. He's been out on the campaign trail. He's now holding this press conference, which is a rare occurrence for him, the first one since May. And I think it's the eighth of his presidency, if I'm correct.
But yes, he's facing a pretty dire situation. People have rejected his economic policies because they haven't worked enough.
WERTHEIMER: One of the questions he got was essentially what took you so long, why have you waited so long to do what you're doing now.
LIASSON: Right. And he said, well, we've been trying to do all of these other things. We've been working all along. And I think that's a very good question. Because a lot of Democrats wished that he'd had this kind of package out there earlier for them. I think the White House's Plan A was that the economy was going to be doing better now. They were really caught flat-footed and they didn't have a Plan B in place fast enough.
WERTHEIMER: So here he goes with his with his Plan B. Mara Liasson, thank you very much.
LIASSON: Thank you, Linda.
WERTHEIMER: NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson speaking to us about President Obama's nationally broadcast news conference.
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