Unsurprisingly, almost every question at tonight's press conference had to do with the economy. President Obama, who said we are beginning to "see signs of progress," took the opportunity to lay out his four priorities moving forward: health care, education, energy, and deficit reduction. When asked why it took him so long to express outrage over AIG's bonuses, Obama said: "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about when I speak." That clearly showed tonight, considering the amount of detail the president shared.
Here are some of the highlights:
- On working together: We will recover from this recession. But it will take time, it will take patience, and it will take an understanding that when we all work together, when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interests to the wider set of obligations we have to each other — that's when we succeed. That's when we prosper.
- On a new type of prosperity: We know that an economy built on reckless speculation, inflated home prices, and maxed-out credit cards does not create lasting wealth. It creates the illusion of prosperity, and it’s endangered us all.
- On the sacrifices of the American people: With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right. They — you’ve got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You’ve got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day and entire day’s worth of pay so that their fellow co-workers aren’t laid off.
To see what Obama had to say about his critics, and public outrage,
- On public outrage: We can't afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who tries to make a profit.
- On his critics: I’m not going to lie to you. It is tough. As I said, that’s why the critics tend to criticize, but they don’t offer an alternative budget, because even if we were not doing health care, we were not doing energy, we were not doing education, they’d still have a whole bunch of problems in those out years, according to CBO projections.
- On how his tax plan would impact charitable giving: I'll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving, is a financial crisis and an economy that’s contracting. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy, to get banks lending again, to get businesses opening their doors again, to get people back to work again. Then I think charities will do just fine.