Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Little More Conversation and a Lot Less Action

The old saw in D.C. is that if you want to look like you’re doing something on a particular issue -- without actually having to do anything – then form a commission to study it.

It’s what Obama did with his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Only problem was, they came back with a number of proposals that Obama would sooner give up golf than actually implement.

Well, I hope he’s learned his lesson. Because usually he knows better.

That is, if you’re Obama and you want to do even less than form a commission, you say you want to or are going to have a conversation about an issue.

Press Conference by the President, February 9, 2009

So there are going to be a set of objectives that we have in these conversations, but I think that there's the possibility at least of a relationship of mutual respect and progress.

And if they're sincere about it, then I'm happy to have conversations about this tax cut versus that tax cut, or this infrastructure project versus that infrastructure project.

If you want it to do something, then we can have a conversation. But doing nothing, that's not an option from my perspective.

I think that it's important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this. And, you know, I've mentioned this in conversations with the Russian President, Mr. Medvedev, to let him know that it is important for us to restart the conversations about how we can start reducing our nuclear arsenals in an effective way

ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT WITH REGIONAL REPORTERS, June 9, 2009

What I wanted to do was simply to start a conversation, not just between me and the Muslim world, but within the Muslim world and within America and the West about how do we finally start being honest about some of these problems.

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AFTER CABINET MEETING, September 10, 2009

I do think that, as I said last night, we have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big, important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name-calling, without the assumption of the worst in other people's motives.

News Conference by the President, February 9, 2010

The meeting did go well, and I appreciate them making the trek. We had a good and frank conversation and it's one that I hope we can continue on a more regular basis.

I think that we have bent over backwards to say to the Islamic Republic of Iran that we are willing to have a constructive conversation about how they can align themselves with international norms and rules and reenter as full members of the international community.

Remarks by the President on Education Reform at the National Urban League Centennial Conference, July 29, 2010

If we can have that conversation in our own lives, if we can take an opportunity to learn from our imperfections and our mistakes, to grow as individuals and as a country, and if we engage in the hard work of translating words into deeds -- because words are easy and deeds are hard -- then I’m confident that we can move forward together and make this country a little more perfect than it was before.

There have been criticisms from some folks in the civil rights community about particular elements of Race to the Top. So I want to address some of those today. I told you we’re going to have an honest conversation.

Remarks by the President at CNBC Town Hall Discussion on Jobs, September 20, 2010

What we have to do is make sure that we take in -- the amount of money that we’re taking in and the amount of money that we’re going out matches up. And all of us have to have a conversation.

Remarks by the President at DCCC/DSCC General Reception, September 22, 2010

And as I said before, we increased AIDS funding. Now if you want to have a conversation later about how we can increase it even more, it’s a conversation I’m happy to have.

Remarks by the President in a Youth Town Hall, October 14, 2010

And so I think there’s also a values component to this that all of us have to be in a serious conversation about. Because ultimately peer pressure can lead people to bully, but peer pressure can also say bullying is not acceptable.

That’s something I think we’ve got to avoid. We’ve got to be able to have a conversation and recognize we’re all Americans; we all want the best for this country.

NPR Interview, December 10, 2010

I think that Bowles-Simpson did a good job of sparking a conversation about how we need to move forward to deal with our medium- and long-term deficits.

And that conversation is going to be one that can't just happen in Washington; it's going to happen all across the country. And I'm looking forward to leading that conversation.

Well, I think we're going to have to have a conversation over the next year. And if you think about the last time we reformed our tax system back in 1986 — it didn't happen right away, by the way. It required a lot of conversations among a lot of different parties.

But it's a very complicated conversation.

So what I believe is, is that we've got to start that conversation next year.

NYT, December 22, 2010

He said he would “continue to wrestle with” the issue [of gay marriage] and added, “We are all going to have a conversation about it.”

New Conference by the President, Dec 22, 2010

And as I said, this is going to be an issue that is not unique to the military -- this is an issue that extends to all of our society, and I think we’re all going to have to have a conversation about it.

And so I think Democrats, Republicans, House, Senate, the White House -- all of us have to be in a conversation with the private sector about what’s going to ensure that we can export and sell our products instead of just buying exports from someplace else.

And how do we get all these profits that companies have been making since the economy recovered into productive investment and hiring? That's a conversation that I had with the 20 CEOs who came here, and that's a conversation I expect to continue in the months ahead.

And so this is going to be a debate that we’re going to be having over the next couple of years because I guarantee you, as soon as the new Congress is sworn in, we’re going to have to have a conversation about how do we start balancing our budget, or at least getting to a point that's sustainable when it comes to our deficit and our debt.

And that’s going to be I think part of the conversation that we’ve got to have over the next couple years.

And I am happy to engage with the Republicans about -- if they’ve got ideas about more on border security, I’m happy to have that conversation.

Press Conference by the President, February 15, 2011

The notion that it has been shelved I think is incorrect. It still provides a framework for a conversation.

I’ve had this conversation for that last two years about every single issue that we worked on, whether it was health care or "don't ask, don't tell," on Egypt, right? We’ve had this monumental change over the last three weeks -- well, why did it take three weeks?

What's also true is, for example, is, is that the chairman of the House Republican budgeteers didn’t sign on. He’s got a little bit of juice when it comes to trying to get an eventual budget done, so he’s got concerns. So I’m going to have to have a conversation with him, what would he like to see happen.

I’m going to have to have a conversation with those Democrats who didn’t vote for it.

This is a matter of everybody having a serious conversation about where we want to go, and then ultimately getting in that boat at the same time so it doesn’t tip over.

So I’m looking forward to having a conversation.

My hope is that what's different this time is, is we have an adult conversation where everybody says here’s what's important and here’s how we’re going to pay for it.

Now, in terms of what I’m doing with the Republicans, I’m having conversations with them and Democratic leadership. I did before this budget was released and I will do so afterwards.

But ultimately, what we need is a reasonable, responsible, and initially, probably, somewhat quiet and toned-down conversation about, all right, where can we compromise and get something done.

So there’s a framework there -- that speaks, by the way, again, to the point I made with you, Chuck, about the commission. I think the commission changed the conversation. I think they gave us a basic framework, and within that framework we’re going to have to have some tough conversations and the devil is going to be in the details.

News Conference by the President, March 11, 2011

But the bottom line is this. We’ve been having this conversation for nearly four decades now.

And what we've done is we've organized in NATO a series of conversations about a wide range of options that we can take

And we have been in very close contact with all members of Congress -- both parties. I’ve had conversations with Mr. McConnell, I’ve had conversations with Mr. Boehner, I’ve had conversations with Nancy Pelosi, and I’ve had conversations with Harry Reid about how they should approach this budget problem.

And I mentioned that I had this conversation with Warren Buffett a couple weeks ago when I was giving him the Medal of Freedom

And that’s why I think it’s going to be important for us to have a conversation after we get the short-term budget done about how do we really tackle the problem in a comprehensive way.

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