Obama Pushes Agenda Despite Losses On The Hill | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Obama Pushes Agenda Despite Losses On The Hill

Play associated audio

President Obama lost a couple of economic battles on Capitol Hill on Thursday, but he is hoping to win the political war. The president vows to keep fighting for policies he says will benefit the broad middle class.

As Obama spoke to reporters in the White House briefing room, an electronic clock behind him ticked down the minutes, hours and days until year's end. That's when a payroll tax cut is due to expire, unless Congress votes to extend it.

Economic Skirmishes

While dueling proposals to extend the tax cut failed in the Senate on Thursday, Obama insists lawmakers keep trying as they face their own countdown to a Christmas holiday recess.

"I do not expect Congress to go home unless the payroll tax cut is extended and unless unemployment insurance is extended. It would be wrong for families, but it would also be wrong for the economy as a whole," he said.

The president also promised to keep pressing to fill the top job at a new financial watchdog agency, even if he has to use a recess appointment to do so. Senate Republicans blocked his nominee Thursday. Obama says that until a director is in place at the agency, it can't police payday lenders, debt collectors or mortgage companies that aren't tied to banks.

"This is a big deal. About one in five people use these kinds of mechanisms to finance everything from buying a house to cashing their checks," he said.

So far, Obama has been losing these battles on Capitol Hill, but the White House is convinced he's winning the broader political argument. Day after day, the president tries to present himself as a champion of the middle class, while branding Republicans as the party of fat cats and financiers.

Overruling The FDA On Plan B

While Obama has grown more combative in his economic rhetoric, the administration has tried to tiptoe through other political minefields. This week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled scientists at the FDA who wanted to make emergency contraceptive pills more readily available.

Obama insists he did not try to influence the secretary, but he defended her decision not to allow over-the-counter sales of Plan B pills to adolescent girls without a prescription.

"She could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore should be able — alongside bubblegum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect," he said.

'Ask Osama Bin Laden'

One area where Obama shows surprising strength in the public opinion surveys — for a Democrat — is foreign policy. That hasn't stopped Republican presidential hopefuls from criticizing his handling of Iran or Israel. This week, several Republicans accused the president of practicing "appeasement." Obama had a blunt comeback for that.

"Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 top al-Qaida leaders who've been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement," he said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney also took a club to Mitt Romney's charge that Obama spends too much time on the golf course or planning a family vacation when he should be fixing the economy.

"I don't remember Gov. Romney complaining about this president's predecessor taking his family on vacation, spending, I believe, far more time on vacation than this president," Carney said. "But you never know what he might have said. So you might want to go check it."

In any case, Obama volunteered to skip his family trip to Hawaii this month if Congress doesn't act quickly to extend the payroll tax cut.

"Get it done," he said, "and if not, maybe ... we'll have a white Christmas here in Washington."

The countdown clocks are still ticking.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Mexican TV Icon Roberto Gómez Bolaños Dies At 85

The actor, writer and director was a staple of Mexican television comedies and children's programs for decades.

From Humble Salt To Fancy Freezing: How To Up Your Cocktail Game

You don't need to have liquid nitrogen at your next cocktail party — but it's certainly a sure-fire way to impress your guests. Expert mixologist Dave Arnold walks you through it.

Week In Politics: Hagel's Resignation, Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution and David Brooks of the New York Times about the grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson and the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Millennial Doctors May Be More Tech-Savvy, But Is That Better?

Text messages from your doctor are just the start. Millennials are the next generation of doctors and they're not afraid to say "chillax" in a consultation or check Twitter to find medical research.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.