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Obama uses town hall for pocketbook politics

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President Obama used a town hall meeting in the District to defend his administration's handling of the economy and argue that Republican ideas would undercut recent growth.

In portions of the event aired Thursday on CBS's "The Early Show," Obama said much of the economic uncertainty defining recent years has been alleviated and that companies needed to jumpstart hiring and "start placing their bets on America."

He also spent much of the hour-long segment attacking Republican ideas for reducing the deficit, particularly honing in on their opposition to eliminating the so-called Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

"Now what the Republicans say is we're not going to ask any sacrifices from folks like me," Obama said. "In fact, I get a $200,000 tax cut. And in order to pay for that we're going to slash education by 25 percent. We're going to cut transportation by 33 percent. We're going to cut investments in clean energy by 70 percent. And that doesn't, from my perspective, make sense if we're concerned about how do we create jobs for the future."

Obama said he was committed to bringing down the deficit but argued he inherited $1 trillion in unpaid tax cuts, two wars and an unfunded prescription drug plan for seniors.

When questioned by a federal worker set to lose her job at the National Zoo, he cited her situation as evidence that government cuts have human consequences.

"I think the feeling on the other side of the aisle is that we want to just cut and cut and cut," he said. "And that somehow is gonna create economic growth. Now, the truth of the matter is, our biggest problem when it comes to jobs right now is not in the private sector. The reason the unemployment rate is still as high as it is, in part, is because there have been huge layoffs of government workers at the federal level, at the state level, at the local level."

The remarks were not aired until Thursday morning, and the event was not open to the press despite being held Wednesday afternoon at the Newseum — a national shrine to an open and free press.