President Pledges to Keep Up Economic Push

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  July 29, 2013 at 9:01 AM EST


Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

“I’ll worry about my legacy later or I’ll let historians worry about my legacy.”

President Barack Obama struck a defiant tone in an interview published this weekend in the New York Times, insisting he will keep at his economic push and highlighting Republican roadblocks on Capitol Hill. But he also indicated that compromise seems possible.

Following a speech on the topic in Illinois, the president conducted a 40-minute interview with Jackie Calmes and Michael Shear, suggesting his economic prescriptions will work over time.

“[W]hat I want to make sure everybody in Washington is obsessed with is how are we growing the economy, how are we increasing middle-class incomes and middle-class wages, and increasing middle-class security,” Mr. Obama said. “And if we’re not talking about that, then we’re talking about the wrong thing. And if our debates around the budget don’t have that in mind, then we’ve got the wrong focus.”

The reporters pressed him on how he can move his agenda given a divided Congress and ongoing feuds with the House GOP. Mr. Obama echoed hopeful-sounding comments Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made last week on the NewsHour.

The president said:

[W]e also have a number of very thoughtful and sensible Republicans over in the Senate who have said that we should not play brinksmanship, that we should come up with a long-term plan. I met with a couple of House Republicans over the last several weeks who would like to see that happen. They’re not the loudest voices in the room at the moment.

And part of what I’d like to see over the next several weeks is, if we’re having a conversation that’s framed as how are we growing the economy, how are we strengthening the middle class, how are we putting people back to work, how are we making college more affordable, how are we bringing manufacturing back — the answer to those questions I think force a different result than if we are constantly asking ourselves how can we cut the deficit more, faster, sooner.

Mr. Obama added that some of his conversations with conservative Republicans about the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester and the need for deficit reduction have been encouraging. His focus will remain on long-term investments, he said.

“I’ve been in Washington long enough now to know that if once a week I’m not talking about jobs, the economy, and the middle class, then all manner of distraction fills the void,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama also weighed in on his health care law’s implementation and the Keystone pipeline.

Congress has just a few days left before a long recess, and it’s unlikely any of these fiscal fights will be resolved before members head back to their homes. With Mr. Obama pledging to keep up the pressure, expect spending to be on the top of the agenda when lawmakers return to Washington.

Editor’s note: For the rest of the summer, the Morning Line will only publish once a week, on Mondays. Visit our home page for news and show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

LINE ITEMS

  • The president will have lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House on Monday.
  • The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman writes that momentum is building among lawmakers in both parties to rein in the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities.
  • More than 150 House Democrats sent a letter to the president on Friday calling on him to “work with Congress to examine the operations of the NSA and consider amendments to existing law that strengthen the balance between our national security and Americans’ civil liberties.”
  • The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold profiles Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has been an outspoken critic of the NSA’s practices for years.
  • New York GOP Rep. Peter King criticized the national security views of Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday, comparing the Kentucky Republican to 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern. “This is the anti-war, left-wing Democrats of the 1960s that nominated George McGovern and destroyed their party for almost 20 years,” King told CNN. “I don’t want that to happen to our party.”
  • Anthony Weiner said Sunday he would remain in the New York City mayor’s race despite the resignation of his campaign manager following new revelations last week that the former Democratic congressman had continued to send sexually explicit messages to women even after leaving office in 2011.
  • Christine Quinn, one of Weiner’s rivals in the race, said during a Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press” that Weiner was not qualified to lead the city.
  • The Denver Post reports on an immigration forum that GOP Rep. Mike Coffman attended Sunday in Aurora, Colo.
  • Two Senate Democrats will hold an immigration forum Friday in the home district of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, the Associated Press reports. The aim is to pressure King following remarks he made about young immigrants.
  • The House Ethics Committee announced it will investigate retiring Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota for possible campaign finance violations.
  • Democratic San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is taking a few weeks off for therapy following multiple accusations of sexual harassment. He’s under pressure to resign, with top Democrats including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz suggesting he leave office.
  • The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald will testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday about leaks and surveillance programs.
  • The wife of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spent thousands of dollars from her husband’s Political Action Committee on clothing and other items, the Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella reported over the weekend.
  • The Union Leader editorializes against Gov. Chris Christie’s stance on surveillance.
  • In a Washington Post essay, Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz opened up about the sweet and sad experience of bringing her father’s ashes home from Israel after his untimely death.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow

  • Judy Woodruff looks at the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Mark Shields and David Brooks analyzed the week’s news. Mark suggested the president’s “middle out” slogan makes him sound like a personal trainer.

Watch here or below:

  • Hari Sreenivasan was back in the newsroom for the Doubleheader with Mark and David Friday. They discussed misbehaving politicos. Watch here or below:
  • Is the world running out of innovations that revolutionize our everyday lives? Joel Mokyr picks apart technopessimism on Making Sen$e.

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Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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