President Obama announced Monday he would offer his own recommendations to the Congressional "super committee" tasked with finding trillions of dollars worth of spending cuts ahead of the next debt ceiling increase needed early next year. Speaking at a new conference Monday, during which he took no questions, Obama said Congress must act to create a payroll tax holiday and other stimulative measures or else face "1 million fewer jobs and half a percent less growth," Obama said. The president, addressing the U.S. credit downgrade by Standard & Poor's Friday, called the country's fiscal problems "imminently solvable" and said he'd seek an agreement that would reform entitlements, cut spending, and raise tax revenue. The measures must be done as soon as Congress gets back from August recess, Obama said, portraying them as a reflection of America's national character. "How we respond to this crisis is entirely up to us," the president said. "What sets us apart is that we have not only the capacity but the will to act."
Obama also addressed the deaths of 30 troops in Afghanistan this weekend when their helicopter was shot down by the Taliban. "Nothing embodies the qualities I mention more than the men and women of our armed forces," Obama said. He said he's "spoken to the generals in the field" and that the casualties are not a sign that the Taliban is gaining strength. The president said the troops would continue to help "transition to a stronger Afghan government" and make sure Afghanistan "is not a safe haven for terrorists.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 11,000 for the first time since November while Obama was speaking.
Update: Reactions to Obama's speech are mixed.
Too Late The Washington Post's Jena McGregor writes that Obama shouldn't have waited all weekend to address the news.
While the statement was a step in the right direction amid the finger-pointing of the weekend, it didn't go far enough. He seemed to focus much more on deficits rather than job creation. There was little in the way of new ideas. ... Then again, it's hard to say what more he should have said. No one knows what's going to happen to interest rates for consumers. No one knows when the stock market will stop falling. And the big levers available to fix the economy, to be fair, are in short supply these days. We already pulled most of them in the last recession.As a result, I’d say the president’s statement failed not due to what he said or didn’t say, but when he said it.
It also differs markedly from the tone Speaker John Boehner struck on Friday, when the downgrade was announced. "It is my hope this wake-up call will convince Washington Democrats that they can no longer afford to tinker around the edges of our long-term debt problem," Boehner said. This was echoed more forcefully by the Republican National Committee, with a press release trumpeting the "Obama downgrade."But Obama views his role as President differently. As he takes his case to the American people, he is attempting to retain his privileged position above the mud pit of Washington politics. ... The challenge for Obama is finding a way to maintain this relative good will while still accomplishing something in the coming months.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.