Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

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January 14, 2013

President Obama's end-of-term press conference

(Continued)

Washington, D.C. —

 
 
 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, ultimately, Congress makes the decisions about whether or not we spend money and whether or not we keep this government open.  And if the Republicans in Congress have made a decision that they want to shut down the government in order to get their way then they have the votes at least in the House of Representatives, probably, to do that. 
 
 
 
I think that would be a mistake.  I think it would be profoundly damaging to our economy.  I think it would actually add to our deficit because it will impede growth.  I think it’s shortsighted.  But they’re elected representatives, and folks put them into those positions and they’re going to have to make a decision about that.  And I don’t -- I suspect that the American people would blame all of Washington for not being able to get its act together. 
 
 
 
But the larger issue here has to do with what is it that we’re trying to accomplish.  Are we trying to reduce the deficit? Because if we’re trying to reduce the deficit, then we can shape a bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit.  I mean, is that really our objective?  Our concern is that we’re spending more than we take in, and if that’s the case, then there’s a way of balancing that out so that we take in more money in increasing revenue and we reduce spending.  And there’s a recipe for getting that done.
 
 
 
And in the conversations that I had with Speaker Boehner before the end of the year, we came pretty close -- a few hundred billion dollars separating us when stretched over a 10-year period, that’s not a lot. 
 
 
 
But it seems as if what’s motivating and propelling at this point some of the House Republicans is more than simply deficit reduction.  They have a particular vision about what government should and should not do.  So they are suspicious about government’s commitments, for example, to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older. They have suspicions about Social Security.  They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat, or whether we should be spending money on medical research.  So they’ve got a particular view of what government should do and should be. 

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