After listening to the President at the press conference at the close of the G20 meeting, I was stunned by what I heard - I had to transcribe his answer from my DVR. I have never been so offended by such an arrogant response. I had to tape it to play it again and make sure I wasn't reacting to his comments inappropriately...I will let you decide.
All right? Last question, Scott Horsley. Where’s Scott?
Q Mr. President, are there steps your administration can take now to build confidence that the U.S. will, in fact, meet its deficit reduction targets in the medium and long term?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question? Put the mic a little closer to you.
Q Are there steps your administration can take now to build confidence that the U.S. will, in fact, meet its deficit reduction goals in the medium and long term?
THE PRESIDENT: Several steps we’ve already begun to take: Number one, as I indicated, the budget that we’re presenting - three years discretionary domestic spending freeze. And I’ve sent a clear signal to the leadership when we met, even if we do not get the entire budget package passed through Congress, that top line number needs to stay firm. And I’m serious about it.
We’ve initiated a whole host of measures to cut programs that aren’t working, including, by the way, in the defense area. Bob Gates has been, I think, as successful as any Secretary of Defense in recent memory in actually killing programs, which I think anybody who follows Washington knows is very - very difficult.
We have instituted PAYGO. And although there were baselines built in that took into account the fact that some of this stuff was not going to be solved overnight, it is starting to provide budget discipline to Congress as they move forward.
And we have set up this fiscal commission who will provide reports starting in November - and one of the encouraging things, although there was resistance, ironically, on the part of some of the Republicans who originally had been co-sponsors of legislation to create the fiscal commission and they, in fact, ended up voting against it - what’s been encouraging, based on what I’m hearing both from Democrats and Republicans, is that there’s been a serious conversation there. People are looking at a whole spectrum of issues to get at what is basically a structural deficit that preceded this financial crisis.
Even if - the financial crisis made it much worse, but even if we had not gone through this financial crisis, we’d still have to be dealing with these long-term deficit problems. They have to do with Medicaid; they have to do with Medicare; they have to do with Social Security. They have to do with a series of structural problems that are not unique to America. Some of it has to do with an aging population. And we’ve got to look at a tax system that is messy and unfair in a whole range of ways.
And so they’re looking at the gamut of steps that are going to be taken. And one of the interesting things that’s happened over the last 18 months as President is for some reason people keep on being surprised when I do what I said I was going to do. So I say I’m going to reform our health care system and people think, well, gosh, that’s not smart politics, maybe we should hold off. Or I say, we’re going to move forward on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and somehow people say, well, why are you doing that, I’m not sure that’s good politics.
I’m doing it because I said I was going to do it. And I think it’s the right thing to do. And people should learn that lesson about me, because next year when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step up, because I’m calling their bluff. And we’ll see how much of that - how much of the political arguments they’re making right now are real, and how much of it was just politics.
All right? Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)