Today, President Obama hosted the last press conference of his first term, reflecting on the accomplishments of his first terms while addressing the most pressing issues of his second term. A full summary of the President’s remarks and answers to reporters’ questions can be seen below. A video of the press conference will soon be posted on the White House website seen here.
In his remarks the President emphasized that he has already committed to over $2 trillion in deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases. The President said he is willing to negotiate for further deficit reduction in the future, including through adjustments to Medicare. However, the President strongly warned Republicans in Congress that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling.
President Obama stated that the debt ceiling raise is not an authorization of more spending, but instead simply allows government to pay bills already authorized. The President warned that not doing anything would endanger Social Security and veteran's checks, in addition to the economy itself.
When asked whether an assault weapons ban could get through Congress the President said he did not know. President Obama refused to list the specific recommendation he would endorse, but said he believes that steps must be taken, including limiting the access of high-capacity magazines.
Debt Ceiling Executive Action
When asked whether he was considering a “Plan B” to avoid debt default if Congress fails to act, President Obama stated that the simple solution is for Congress to authorize the treasury to pay off the country’s bills. The President said there are no “magic tricks” or “easy outs” for the problem at the current point outside of a congressional approval.
On the issue of spending cuts President Obama said that he is willing to have a fight over future budget authorization, but that the debate should not endanger the full faith and credit of the United States. When pressed again whether he would use the 14th Amendment, President Obama said there is no other “credible solution” outside of Congress raising the debt ceiling.
Negotiating Over Debt Ceiling
Major Garrett of CBS News brought up past instances when president has negotiated over the debt ceiling, including President Obama himself in the first term. President Obama stated that the country has never found itself in a position like the last debt ceiling negotiations when the country came just a few days away from default. The President said that Democrats have never threatened to send the country into default if they did not get their way on the debt ceiling as Republicans are now doing.
When pressed further as to why he would not negotiate, the President said that he must stop the “pattern of negotiating through crisis.” President Obama stated if the pattern continues it will only worsen until every two or months the minority party uses a “hijack” process to get what they want.
The President stressed again and again that he is willing to talk about deficit reduction. President Obama said he and Speaker Boehner were only a few hundred billion apart, which is not a lot when stretched out over 10 years, in the last negotiations a month ago. At the same time, President Obama said he was unwilling to fundamentally deconstruct the promise to seniors made through Social Security and Medicare.