Tuesday, March 24, 2009

President Obama's second prime-time press conference

Thoughts and observations from Obama's second prime-time press conference which just concluded: (This started as tweets!)

1. Obama giving people follow-up questions - good! But he still manages to avoid drawing lines - like not signing budget w/o cap-n-trade! [Except perhaps for #3 below?]
2. Bush used Tony Blair/Aussie ex-PM Howard to support his Iraq War. Obama used Aussie PM Kevin Rudd/ British PM Gordon Brown to support global stimulus spending!
3. Capping charitable deductions: Obama finally said it - tax deductions should not be the determining factor in giving! Also, 28% is still a good tax break!
4. Obama called on Major Garrett of Fox - and now, someone from the Wa Times! Ain't avoiding them, for sure...
5. On the Washington Times question, about stem cells: Obama struck a suitably grim tone, while explaining the use of embryos that would otherwise be discarded (not grown specifically to generate stem cells) to explore treatments for debilitating diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  Also acknowledged progress with adult stem cells, and moral/ethical considerations in addition to scientific criteria.
6. Question about deficit rising after year 4-5 (by when - 2012! - it should be cut in half): That's because savings in entitlements (Medicare/Medicaid) won't be apparent till after 10-year window. But have to make investments in education, energy and health care to improve economy and ensure growth, which will reduce deficits. Otherwise will continue to have structural deficits such as entitlements without economic growth.
7. Ann Compton of ABC News was surprised to be called on - wonder why?  Because Obama had already asked "Jake" (Tapper!) a question?
8. Finished with a question from the AFP on the Israel-Palestine conflict with the new hardline Israeli government - "certainly hasn't made [a solution] easier!"  But said persistence is key.  Though - Obama appeared to use Geithner's toxic assets plan as an example of persistence!  Is that good or bad for Geithner?!

Overall, I am liking this more and more - I hope Obama does a monthly televised presser.  Just hope he moves on beyond now-cliched campaign talking points - "go line by line to eliminate waste" should be replaced with specific examples.

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