Obama: GOP Painted Me as ‘Big Government Liberal’ (Video)
November 8, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)— In his first sit-down interview since the “shellacking” from the mid-term elections, President Obama told CBS’ “60 Minutes,” it was all about the economy and high unemployment. Coming into the Oval Office two-years ago, having to solve an economic meltdown and stop the shedding of jobs, Obama told host Steve Kroft that his administration was “in such a rush” to deal with the collapse of Wall Street, “to make sure the economy didn’t go off a cliff,” that he failed to take the time to explain it properly to the American people. So, while Obama was busy saving the country from the mess the Republicans made, GOP lawmakers grabbed hold of the messaging to successfully paint Obama as a Socialist and a “big government liberal” who was pursuing policies “contrary to those commonsense, Main Street values about the size of government.” The President rejects the idea that voters repudiated his policies of healthcare reform and moving our country towards a “21st Century infrastructure.” The election was simply a “referendum on the economy” coupled with the toxic atmosphere in Washington caused by Republican obstructionism.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think, first and foremost, it was a referendum on the economy. And the party in power was held responsible for an economy that is still underperforming and where a lot of folks are still hurting. I mean, we’ve got 9.6 percent unemployment. We’ve got higher than that underemployment. A lot of folks who would like to be working full time can’t work full time. Families are struggling paying the bills. People have seen their home values decline all across the country. In some cases, so that they’re under water. Their house is worth less than the cost of their mortgage.
Obama ticked off the many benefits to healthcare reform that Americans support and the problems with controlling the message
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I think that if you ask people individually, “Does it make sense that President Obama gave 95 percent of working families a tax cut? Does it make sense that we make sure children with preexisting conditions can still get health insurance? Do we need to rebuild our roads and our bridges and put people back to work so that we have a 21st Century infrastructure? Was it smart for us to take money that were going to banks in the forms of unwarranted subsidies and use that to increase student loans for millions of young people across the country?”
If you tick off that list, then people will say, “These are all good ideas.” But I think that what happened over the course of two years was that we had to take a series of big, emergency steps quickly. And most of them in the first six months of my administration. Each of them had a big price tag. You got intervention in the banks. You’ve got the auto bailout. You’ve got a stimulus package. Each one with a lot of zeroes behind it. And people looked at that and they said, “Boy, this feels as if there’s a huge expansion of government.” And . . .
KROFT: Well, it was a huge expansion of government.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What I didn’t effectively, I think, drive home, because we were in such a rush to get this stuff done, is that we were taking these steps not because of some theory that we wanted to expand government. It was because we had an emergency situation and we wanted to make sure the economy didn’t go off a cliff. The last thing I would have liked to do as an incoming President is figure out how to save GM and Chrysler from bankruptcy. That wasn’t on my list of to-dos when I was running for office.
But necessity created circumstances in which I think the Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that’s not something that the American people want. I mean, you know, particularly independents in this country. But I think most Democrats and Republicans, they want a government that works, but they want one that’s lean. One that’s not wasting money. One that is looking after their interests, but isn’t engaged in a whole bunch of giveaways.
And I think the Republicans were successful in creating a picture of the Obama Administration as one that was contrary to those commonsense, Main Street values about the size of government. And so, it I think it is fair to say that, you know, the American people don’t want to see some massive expansion of government. And I think the good thing is that having gotten through this emergency, I think what people will see over the next two years is probably a better reflection of the kinds of long term priorities that I want to set for the country.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders are making the media rounds demanding tax cuts for the super rich, that would add billions of dollars to the ballooning deficit. What are their ideas for jobs? They don’t have any, in fact a number of Republican governors are gloating over their decisions to kill infrastructure projects in their states that would create jobs.
And the Republicans are vowing to spend the next two-years harassing President Obama to find ways to repeal and de-fund the healthcare reform benefits. On top of that, the GOP is readying witch hunt investigations of the Obama administration, fueled by manufactured controversies peddled by Fox News.
It’s the Republicans who don’t “get it.” Perhaps NBC and Savannah Guthrie can ask whether Republicans emboldened with their wins, are “still not getting it.”
Watch the entire interview: