Tuesday, March 24, 2009

President Obama holds second primetime news conference on all networks

President Obama gave his second prime time news conference tonight on all the major networks, including CNN, MSNBC, and PBS. He kept the conference to under one hour.

The tone of his remarks was somber but somewhat encouraging.

The best part of the conference was the beginning, where he answered an AP reporter’s question on AIG. (ABC's Nightline says that the Associated Press always goes first at presidential press conferences.) He said that were AIG a commercial, FDIC-insured bank, there would have existed orderly ways to resolve its crisis. But because it was not (it is an insurance holding company) Congress had to pass legislation to give the administration powers to deal with the crisis, and there was still more legislation needed to make the progress orderly and give investors confidence. The regulatory environment must be set up so that this does not happen again.

He defended Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s private-public partnerships, and tended to ignore the principled criticisms that the government still has no credible algorithm for evaluating the “toxic assets”.

On health care, he emphasized again the importance of automating medical record lookup, and of reimbursing doctors on performance rather than on numbers of procedures. He mentioned the Fiscal Responsibility Summit that had been held in February in “this room” (the East Wing) but was not specific on entitlement reform other than efficiencies in Medicare through better health care utilization. He didn’t mention the exploding problem of Alzeheimer’s, which made headlines today (as on my retirement blog, or the previous post here), because that is still a “custodial” issue, probably, and hasn’t gotten to the level of public policy debate that it needs.

The president was also asked if the last 64 days was a "color-blind time", and the president said he was totally consumed with repairing the economy. Even the military issues (some very important to me) have to wait a while.

The MSNBC story is by Alex Johnson, and is titled “Obama: long recovery effort will succeed: President says spending plan will ultimately leave nation stronger” here and has videos of the conference.

The CNN story is “Obama defends budget as essential to recovery” here.

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