President Obama Discusses Progress, Prospects on Major Initiatives at Events Marking 100 Days in Office
President Obama on Wednesday held a town hall meeting in Missouri and a news conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss progress on issues such as health care during the first 100 days of his presidency, the Washington Post reports. Referring to criticism about the cost of major initiatives he has proposed, including health care reform, Obama said, "I know you've been hearing all these arguments about, 'Oh, Obama is just spending crazy, look at these huge trillion-dollar deficits.'" He added, "Well, let me make a point. ... We inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit -- that wasn't me," and "there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest ... financial crisis since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps."
In addition, Obama said that he was most surprised "by the number of critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same time" and that he was "sobered by the fact that change in Washington comes slow. That there is still a certain quotient of political posturing and bickering that takes place even when we're in the middle of really big crises" (Shear et al., Washington Post, 4/30).
He said he would pursue bipartisan compromise when possible, but acknowledged that his party would be able to act without Republican support on issues it believes to be the most important. He said he has told Republican leaders, "Look, on health care reform, you may not agree with me that we should have a public plan. That may be philosophically just too much for you to swallow. On the other hand, there are some areas, like reducing the costs of medical malpractice insurance, where you do agree with me" (Babbington, AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/30).
When asked about specific plans aimed at helping black communities, which have higher unemployment rates than white communities, Obama said the economic stimulus package passed earlier this year will direct more money to community health centers, and extend unemployment aid and health coverage for people who have been laid off (AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 4/29).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Thursday reported on Obama's 100-days comments, as well as prospects for compromise on major policy initiatives (Williams/Inskeep, "Morning Edition," NPR, 4/30).