President Obama Strikes Back, His Line In The Sand @26:45 Mark

I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.

~Barack Obama
I have watched many press conferences and I have to say, this man is the most informed, brilliant, intelligent and graceful person to hold the position of the President Of The United States. PERIOD! No one in this Political Environment can top this man. I respect and admire the man for his practical ways but watching yesterday's press conferences again has given me a reassurance that I have made the right choice to support this man. Please watch the press conference below the fold and the transcript is right here.
Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it.


Q Where is your line in the sand?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I’ve got a whole bunch of lines in the sand. Not making the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent -- that was a line in the sand. Making sure that the things that most impact middle-class families and low-income families, that those were preserved -- that was a line in the sand. I would not have agreed to a deal, which, by the way, some in Congress were talking about, of just a two-year extension on the Bush tax cuts and one year of unemployment insurance, but meanwhile all the other provisions, the Earned Income Tax Credit or other important breaks for middle-class families like the college tax credit, that those had gone away just because they had Obama’s name attached to them instead of Bush’s name attached to them.

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.

That can’t be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat. This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. The New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America. Neither does The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Most Americans, they’re just trying to figure out how to go about their lives and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us. And that means because it’s a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done, we’re going to compromise. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify. And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people. When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.

Under the criteria that you just set out, each of those were betrayals of some abstract ideal. This country was founded on compromise. I couldn’t go through the front door at this country’s founding. And if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn’t have a union.

So my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there. What is helping the American people live out their lives? What is giving them more opportunity? What is growing the economy? What is making us more competitive? And at any given juncture, there are going to be times where my preferred option, what I am absolutely positive is right, I can’t get done.

And so then my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way or tack a little bit that way, because I’m keeping my eye on the long term and the long fight -- not my day-to-day news cycle, but where am I going over the long term?

And I don’t think there’s a single Democrat out there, who if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised.

Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it.

And so the -- to my Democratic friends, what I’d suggest is, let’s make sure that we understand this is a long game. This is not a short game. And to my Republican friends, I would suggest -- I think this is a good agreement, because I know that they’re swallowing some things that they don’t like as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the field of competition over the next two years.
Well, Mr. President, I am proud to have you to be my President.

However, I am interested to hear about the position of liberal critics and how your position would have helped solve problems?


How do you get to pass a law that will allow 2 million people get unemployment Benefit?

How do you get to pass a law that will allow folks keep on the average $3,000 to 95% of Americans.

How do you get to pass a law that gives students and families up to $2,500 in tax savings to help pay for college tuition and other expenses?

How do you get to pass the Earned Income Tax Credit that increases the credit for families with three or more children, bringing the maximum amount to $5,657?

How do you get to pass the Child Tax Credit that helps low-and moderate-income families with children which reduces the minimum amount of earned income used to calculate the additional child tax credit to $3,000 from $12,550?

How do you get to pass COBRA and Unemployment Benefits for those who lost their jobs in the recession, to help them get back on their feet, providing a 65 percent tax credit to help cover the cost of health care and making the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits tax-free, when normally 100 percent of those benefits are taxable?

Well, this is what the compromise will do and honestly it is a deal that is good for America while it has a steep price, a price worth paying to ensure the millions of Americans who are struggling to keep their families afloat are not Abandoned.

Now 24 hours after all the shouting and yelling, let's listen to what "prominent Washington research groups that range from liberal to staunchly liberal" are saying:

1) Center for American Progress STATEMENT: CAP’s Podesta: On Tax and Unemployment Insurance Deal, Obama Chose Jobs and Working Families
Washington, DC – Today, John Podesta, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress, issued the following comment on the tax extensions and unemployment insurance compromise announced yesterday:
Progressives need to be clear and honest about what just happened on taxes and the economy. Since the midterm election, it has been clear that the Congressional Republican Leadership was perfectly prepared to see middle and working class tax cuts expire and extended unemployment insurance end unless millionaire tax cuts were extended. All the talk about decoupling and extending middle class tax cuts from the cuts for millionaires was wishful thinking at best and just political talk at worst and no strategy could have produced it during the lame duck.

So President Obama was faced with a choice: he could trade a few more years of unnecessary and wasteful tax breaks for the rich in exchange for assistance to the unemployed, additional targeted tax relief for working families through the refundable earned income tax credit and child credit, and keeping tax rates low for 98 percent of Americans; alternatively he could allow taxes to rise on everyone starting in January. At the end of the day, President Obama decided he couldn’t abandon the millions of Americans who are struggling to keep their families afloat, who are diligently searching for work, and who simply cannot afford higher taxes right now, even though the Congressional Republican Leadership was more than happy to do so if we wouldn't pay their ransom.

It was a steep price, but this deal will mean about 2 million jobs saved or created over the next two years. On balance, I think the President was right to choose helping working Americans over a December conflagration. But the question hanging over Washington and the country today is how will he avoid repeating the same scenario being played out again and again for the next two years? That’s a question that is keeping me awake at night.
2) Statement: Robert Greenstein, Executive Director, on the Tax Cut-Unemployment Insurance Deal
The deal between President Obama and Republican leaders on tax cuts and unemployment insurance has two substantial positive aspects: its surprisingly strong protections for low- and middle-income working families and its stronger-than-expected boost for the economy and jobs. But it also has one deeply disturbing negative feature: not only the extension of the high-end income-tax cuts, but also an egregious estate-tax giveaway that Senator Jon Kyl demanded for the estates of the wealthiest one-quarter of 1 percent of Americans who die.

Congress should approve this package — its rejection will likely lead to a more problematic package that does less for middle- and low-income workers and less for the economy. Then, in 2012, when the economy should be stronger, the President should make clear he will veto any legislation to extend either the high-end tax cuts or the weakening of the estate tax beyond the estate-tax parameters that were in place in 2009, and he should take that case to the country.
3) Republicans got to comfort the rich, Obama got to help create jobs by Lawrence Mishel of The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank:
Who got what out of (Monday's deal between President Obama and Republican leaders) is clear. The Republicans got tax cuts for the best-off two percent and lower estate taxes for the very wealthiest families, neither of which will do much if anything to create jobs. President Obama won policies that will put or keep money in the pockets of the unemployed and middle and low-income families, which will increase spending and create jobs.That’s what a payroll tax holiday for workers, unemployment benefits and the various tax credits will do: create customers for business and create jobs, which is our biggest need right now.
4) Tax Deal Improves Odds for U.S. Economy in 2011
The tax deal reached by the Obama administration and congressional Republicans will be good for the economy next year. The proposed temporary tax cuts and spending increases will provide a substantial boost to growth in 2011.

Instead of another year expanding at no more than the U.S. economy’s potential growth rate—with job gains of 1.2 million and unemployment hovering near 10%—real GDP growth will accelerate to 4%, job gains will pick up to 2.8 million, and the unemployment rate will decline to around 8.5% by year’s end.

In all likelihood, the recovery would have made it through next year without backtracking into recession, but this deal improves those odds significantly. It also reduces the pressure on the Federal Reserve to engage in more aggressive monetary easing, a possibility even the central bank's most ardent supporters aren't happy about.
5) Tax and Unemployment Agreement Leads to Jobs Growth - Agreement Will Create or Save 2.2 Million Jobs Despite Wasteful Tax Policies
Our analysis of the framework tax agreement that President Barack Obama announced yesterday, including additional tax cuts and an extension of unemployment insurance, finds that 2.2 million jobs will be the end result. In this time of economic distress, millions of new jobs are, of course, very welcome. It is, however, unfortunate that these jobs have to come from an agreement that is a balance between large, unneeded, bonus tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and the needed continuation of unemployment benefits, middle-class tax relief, and additional help for the economy for the rest of us.

While the terms of the deal are understandable given the effective veto power of conservatives, it is unfortunate that policies aimed at the vast majority of Americans and at boosting the economy were held hostage to wasteful tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent. But the Obama administration clearly had its eye on job creation in its willingness to accept $133 billion in misallocated bonus tax breaks for the rich in exchange for policies to sustain the economic recovery and help the middle class.
PS: all bold fonts are my emphasis.