Update: Obama defended his budget and chastised the media for being impatient.
On the budget, he says “people are more hopeful now, and in that environment we have to look at long term problems and medium term problems in a much more urgent and much more serious way.”
About entitlement reform and the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Plan, he says the media is being inpatient. Just because it hasn’t happened today, doesn’t mean it won’t happen tomorrow.
About Egypt he says people were also inpatient — revolution in three weeks was fast enough for him.
Previously: Obama is speaking now. We’re covering live. Nothing is a direct quote unless it’s in “quotes.” Here’s staring off by talking about his budget, claiming it get the country on the road to covering its expenses. Talking about the need for compromise, common ground, etc…
First question: What about the entitlements? When will we see the White House’s plan? Also, what’s your take on the uprisings around the world?
Obama: What my budget does is to put forward some tough choices, significant spending cuts, so that by the middle of this decade, our annual spending will match our annual revenues. We’ve taken a ‘scalpel’ to the discretionary budget. Of course, that side of the ledger only accounts for 12% of the budget. Says Social Security should be really easy to solve, and that healthcare reform has already taken a step towards reforming Medicare and Medicaid. We’ll be able to compromise
As for the Middle East, so far what we’ve seen is positive. We adhere to principles of democracy. It’s ironic that Iran is celebrating what happened in Egypt, when the Iranian leadership is doing the same thing.
Second question: Another Iran question.
Obama: We can’t dictate what happens inside of Iran. You can’t maintain power through coercion.
Third question: Can you explain how you defend saying you’re reducing the debt when the deficit isn’t going anywhere?
Obama: Well, there’s still a whole lotta interest on that debt. We’ve got a big problem of accumulated interest.
Fourth question: Why didn’t you take the Simpson-Bowles recommendation more seriously?
Obama: (Basically, we’re all going to do this at the same time. I’m not going to stick my neck out unless the GOP does it at the same time).
Fifth question: Why are you cutting funding to the most vulnerable? Also, have you been placing calls on behalf of Rahm Emanual?
Obama: I don’t have to place calls for Rahm. As for cutting Pell Grants, because we’ve made them more affordable, we have to cut them. Then he makes another point about lightbubls and energy. Obama gets 10 letters per day, and sometimes he
Sixth Question: Will you compromise with the GOP on budget cuts to avoid a shutdown this year? Also, can you talk about your efforts to get the American diplomat in Pakistan freed?
Obama: Should be able to avoid a shutdown, and people shouldn’t be too loose about talking about a shutdown. Continuing to work with Pakistani government to get this person released?
Obama: Says we need to have an “adult conversation” about budget cuts.
Last question: Has he learned anything from his first two budgets? Will he negotiate with Republicans?
Obama: People are more hopeful now, and in that environment we have to look at long term problems and medium term problems in a much more urgent and much more serious way.
He was glad to hear Republicans say “how come he didn’t talk about entitlements.”
He says markets will reflect confidence that Washington can work.
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