Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Obama talks about debt crisis, remains oblique on gay marriage, a major press conference today

President Obama gave an extended news conference during the noon hour today, carried on CNN and other networks.

Obama said that his two tween daughters do their homework a day ahead of time without all-nighters (not allowed), and that Congress can follow the example set by his and their kids. He suggested they give up their 4th of July recess.  “If you have to do something, you get it done”.

He said that default could mean many protective services (such as agricultural inspections) could go undone (I wonder if the president saw the film “Farmageddon” – movies blog June 23).  He did not get very specific about entitlements. 

Although Senate Republicans are coming around to closing some tax loopholes to raise revenue, Boehner says that tax increases cannot get through the House – even closing loopholes.

The president was ambiguous on the word “marriage” in talking about equality for same-sex couples, while agreeing that DOMA was constitutionally suspect. He said you would hear a change from him when you hear it. News analysts seem to feel that Obama and mainstream Democrats (and some progressive GOP legislators in liberal states) are struggling now with the issue of recognizing gay marriage as such rather than by putting in “separate but equal” civil unions.

“Let me start by saying that this administration, under my direction, has consistently said we cannot discriminate as a country against people on the basis of sexual orientation. And we have done more in the two-and-a-half years that I’ve been in here than the previous 43 presidents.”

Referring to a question from Chuck Todd, “I  think what you’re saying is the profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers — and they have to be treated like every other American, and I think that principle will win out.” But on gay marriage, I’m not going to make news on that today. Good try, though”.   Mitt Romney likes to say “nice try” instead.

Chris Johnson’s report in The Washington Blade is here

Eliot Spitzer, himself a Democrat, was particularly critical of the president’s inability to “draw a line in the sand” and be more specific about the dangers facing the public if a debt ceiling settlement is not reached, although other commentators felt he could not afford to shake up world markets too much, given the Greece situation.

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