Tonight, President Obama held his third prime time press conference of his young presidency to mark his 100th day in office. This press conference was similar in tone and agenda to his previous pressers, down to the mammoth teleprompter hovering over the back of the room. It also continued a theme of government intervention in the lives of American taxpayers and of course, more government spending.
He started off by asking Congress for $1.5 billion in additional emergency funding to combat the ‘swine flu’, which is a noble cause but also puts his $100 million budget “cut” in perspective. One flu virus wiped that off the map fifteen times over. He then warned against being overleveraged on credit and bailouts while touting his budget which the House passed this morning. Unfortunately, this budget does the exact opposite by increasing spending and government bailouts. While he continually worries about President Bush’s deficit, he ignores that he has quadrupled it, while promising to eventually cut it in half.
He was right to point out the steps America should take, and are taking, to protect against the swine flu, as are dictated by President Bush’s 2008 pandemic flu plan. He then shifted to a second epidemic; government control of U.S. automakers. He assured the Detroit News that Chrysler may not have to go through much more than a “quick bankruptcy” and GM may be able to recover, and then hoped the U.S. government would get “out of the auto business” which was ironic considering his deeper involvement by the day in these two companies. Tomorrow, he will be giving a speech on Chrysler, and it will be interesting to see if his statements of tonight are consistent.
Shifting to torture, he said waterboarding was a mistake and said we could have gotten the information “another way”, which would lead you to believe that he should have no problem releasing all relevant memos that prove whether or not enhanced interrogation was successful. He did admit there were “results” from the interrogation. The follow up asked whether he would comment on the details of the documents that proved these techniques were successful, and what he would do in a situation where American lives were at risk. Great follow up. What are President Obama’s interrogation technique limits? Do petty criminals in New York City get pressed harder than Al Qaeda. Of course, he did not answer this question, thanks to his not declassifying these memos.
Chuck Todd of NBC raised a significant question on Pakistan: Can we ensure their nuclear arsenal doesn’t fall into Taliban hands? The President’s answer unfortunately did not include the fact that a strong missile defense system would help protect America and her allies either way, while he continues to cut missile defense. He “remains confident” the nuclear arsenal will not end up in militant hands. Not exactly the strongest show of assurance by an American President.
Chip Reid of CBS asked if Senator Specter’s party switch is a game changer. The President said he would count on the Senator to work with him on issues such as health care and job creation. After their stimulus agreement, Americans should be rightly scared of these two working on either issue. He then talked about telling Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that a public health plan may be too much to swallow, but we could find areas of bipartisanship elsewhere. I am glad he understand a public health plan pushing private plans, and your doctors, out of your lives is a bitter pill to swallow. The Heritage Foundation stands ready with years of research and analysis on opportunities for bipartisan health care reform.
After laying out his pro-abortion philosophy in regards to his upcoming University of Notre Dame appearance, he failed to mention that legislation exists right now that would protect doctors, allowing them to exercise their conscience and not perform medical procedures that violate their beliefs. He should visit ADoctorsRight.com.
He was then asked how he was surprised, humbled, enchanted, etc. etc. The softball of all softballs leading to the long answer of all long answers. He was humbled by “the bankers not doing exactly what [he] wants.” I think all of America is enchanted to know he understands he doesn’t have ‘complete’ control of the banks.
When asked on the future of immigration reform, he did not voice support for his Homeland Security Secretary’s policy of “passive” surveillance, despite formerly being a border Governor. He did recognize the challenges America confronts, but merely laid out many of the same generalities that have strangled this debate for years. He wants amnesty, but not really. Border enforcement, but not really. A fast moving process to fix the problem, but not really.
He was asked about policy impacts on the minority community, to which he referenced his stimulus plan and SCHIP, which he presumed would help African-Americans and Latinos due to their disproportionate economic status. He failed to mention the largest tobacco tax in history that SCHIP laid on the disproportionate level of poor smokers. SCHIP was a health care welfare program designed for children, which is now available to wealthy adults, and reliant on more people picking up smoking, who are most likely to be overtaxed poor people.
He closed his press conference by saying he plenty to do, and would happily get out of the mortgage business, banking business and auto business as soon as they are stabilized and he has made enough good decisions for them. He warned against micro managing, which must be news to former GM Chairman Rick Wagoner, who he recently fired. The overwhelming theme tonight was ‘when is the government going to stop running XYZ’? Clearly, even the press corps understands that the Obama administration is running too much private enterprise in America.
He went as far as to say he was “amused” by complaints that he wants to grow government, but says that is the hand that has been dealt him. If only that were true. See you in 100 days, and be ready to be even more amused.