I think we all know the feeling of starting over. “This time around, I’m going to be better, faster and stronger.” For those of us that do understand, we definitely saw the new attitude from President Obama today. He held his first “formal” press conference since the election (actually in more than 8 months) at the White House, and it’s more than sufficient to say that he covered a lot of bases.
The President gave opening remarks regarding his plans for our nation’s impending tax fight, solidifying his position that tax rates for the middle class shall be preserved. Finally, he clarified his language, pointing out that EVERYONE gets a tax cut on their first $250,000 of income. All Americans, both rich and poor, will continue to receive a tax cut. But for the wealthiest Americans, they will be taxed at the true rate on any income in excess of $250,000. This is an important distinction that Mr. Obama hasn’t been so clear on before. He said “We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debates tax cuts for the wealthy.”
When asked about the David Patraeus affair and resignation, he stated that there was “no evidence” of a negative impact to national security. He said that the FBI investigation is on-going, and that he would not comment further until those results have been reached.
On immigration reform, the President put to rest any rumors… this will be a top priority for the first year of Obama’s second term. He wants US immigration reform to be done soon after his inauguration, saying specifically that “we need to cease the moment.” Even with all of the assumed agreement on this issue, some suspect that immigration reform is going to be very tough. The GOP understand that it needs to get done, but many in the party will be very reluctant to give Obama the credit for it. If this issue is solved during Obama’s Presidency, he goes down in history again for a signature American achievement.
Perhaps the high point of the news conference was a spirited defense of UN Ambassador Susan Rice. He called out GOP leaders that have tried to move Ms. Rice to the center of the Benghazi attack, saying “If Senator McCain, Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.” It’s a strong message to the opposition to let them know that he will not allow the Cabinet to be pushed around during his second term. I guess technically he didn’t say that Ms. Rice would be be the next Secretary of State, but given how complimentary President Obama was of her record, it’s looking like a pretty obvious path for her.
Clinton/Rice 2016? Too early??
After a major election, everyone always throws around the term “mandate” as though this gives politicians total license to pursue whatever agenda they want. This was certainly the view of President George W. Bush when he was re-elected in 2004. Thankfully, President Obama has a very different view. He rarely speaks about having a clear and present mandate. Not to pursue a specific political agenda, but to work really hard on behalf of the American people. Good to know.
Finally, just as the conference was ending, Mr. Obama gave one more signal that everyone has turned over a new leaf. When a reporter shouted out a post-conference question to him. His response? “That’s a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer just b/c you yelled it out.”
Yep… New Term. New Rules.