Obama Meeting With Senate Democrats

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

You can watch President Obama's meeting with Senate Democrats live on CSPAN. We'll see if this is as much fun as Obama's meeting with the House Republicans last week, but it's hard to see how. :)

As of 11 am, there have been questions from Arlen Specter (PA), Michael Bennett (CO), Blanche Lincoln (AR), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Barbara Boxer (CA) and Pat Leahy (VT).

UPDATE 11:02 am: This is fine, but not even close to matching the political theater of Obama's meeting with House Republicans.

UPDATE 11:05 am: Sherrod Brown (OH) asks about solar power, energy policy, manufacturing policy. "China is exploding in terms of wind turbine manufacturing, solar panel manufacturing..." Excellent question.

Obama responds that China "will lap us" when it comes to clean energy. Refers to New York Times article on China and renewable power. Of course, Obama points out, China's not a Democracy, "there are no filibuster rules." "We are at risk of falling behind...but it's not irrevocable." "The country that figures out most rapidly new forms of energy and can commercialize new ideas is going to lead the 21st century economy." We're not going to be able to use solar and wind to replace every other energy source, need to make existing technologies and options better. Need to incentivize clean energy and discourage old sources and methods that aren't going to work in the future. There's a transition period, of course. "The market works best when it responds to price." Yes!!! Compliments John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham on this issue.

UPDATE 11:12 am: Evan Bayh (IN) asks about deficit and rising debt, fiscal health of this country. Republicans have no credibility on this issue, but they don't know if Democrats want to take this on. Bayh calls out "some of the left-wing blogs," says he speaks for independents, conservative Democrats, Republicans. Oh yay.

Obama responds, Bill Clinton made some very tough decisions, got no help from the other side, then economy took off and we had a surplus. Democrats "should have credibility," but we're still haunted by debates of the 1960s and 1970s, this notion of "tax and spend" Democrats. When you actually look at it, we've been very fiscally responsible. Two wars, not paid for. Two tax cuts, not paid for. Prescription drug bill, not paid for. Emergence of structural deficit driven by Medicare and Medicaid, expensive new health care technologies." We came in with $1.3 trillion deficit and a recession. The way we regain trust is to pursue good policies. "You've got to chip away at this problem." Most of the problem is coming from "entitlements that people like!" Points out that foreign aid accounts for only 1% of budget, earmarks only 1% of budget. In order for us to balance the budget while exempting entitlements, you'd have to cut discretionary spending by 60%, "that's just not going to happen." We need to look at tough, long-term policy objectives. Republicans need to step up, work to solve some of these problems. "Maybe I'm naive...good policy is good politics." Need to have "an adult conversation." Future is "bright."