Obama cites Ohio GOP Senator in advocating for tax breaks for small businesses

The President was asked about the delay in hiring a new position that came out of the financial regulation bill - that of a head of a new consumer financial protection agency, and specifically if it will be Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, a strong favorite of the netroots left.

I'm concerned with all Senate nominations these days," Obama said when asked whether a potential confirmation hold-up of Warren was affecting his decision. "I'm not joking."

"[But] I will have an announcement soon on how we will move forward," the President said.

The President was asked about his major accomplishment domestically of 2010, the signing of federal health care reform legislation.  A story by Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel today reported on how many Democrats are running against the bill in Congress, while few Democrats are emphasizing their support for it along the campaign trail.  Strassel wrote:

A total of 279 House and Senate Democrats voted for ObamaCare. Not one is running an ad touting that vote. How can they, given headlines about Medicare cuts and premium hikes? You will, however, find a growing catalogue of ads such as this one from Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil: "As a career prosecutor, I made decisions on facts, not politics," and that's why "I voted against . . . the health-care bill."

Not to be outdone, Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright's ad explains he voted against "massive government health care." South Dakota's Stephanie Herseth Sandlin boasts she voted against the "trillion-dollar health-care plan." But the prize goes to former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, vying to get his old job back: Not only is ObamaCare "financially devastating," it is "the greatest failure, modern failure, of political leadership in my lifetime."

Obama explained that away by saying that local candidates have to do whatever is necessary in their districts.  He also said it was far too early to conclude that the legislation wouldn't ultimately "bend the cost curve,"as the saying goes, after a recent report cited by ABC's Jake Tapper said that health care cost projections would still rise by 0.3% percentage by 2019.

And he was asked a couple of questions about the raging controversy in Gainesville with the pastor who has only a few dozen congregants, but has been able to commandeer the resources of the media nationally and internationally, Terry Jones.  ABC's Tapper asked if the administration had elevated the story by having Defense Secretary Robert Gates call Jones  (prompting St. Pete Times Media writer Eric Deggans to ask via a tweet if his question if Tapper wasn't doing the same thing).  The President replied:

"I hardly think we’re the ones who elevated this story. But it is something that in the age of the Internet can cause us profound damage around the world, and so we have to take it seriously.”

Florida U.S. Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio released a statement afterwards (surprisingly) bashing Obama's comments.

“Our overriding priority is to create jobs in Florida and across our nation. The President and Congress should be working to keep, rather than raise, existing tax rates.  While making the R&D tax credit permanent and allowing businesses to immediately write off capital expenditures are ideas that should have been adopted long ago, we must all be concerned about Washington’s inability to break the habit of wanting more failed government spending sprees and refusing to confront the real challenges facing job creators in America.

“More stimulus spending will empower Washington politicians to pick the winners in our economy, while the rest of us will lose and foot the bill for more reckless spending.  It is alarming and, frankly, fiscally irresponsible of President Obama to call for even more stimulus spending, while we still have a chance to stop what’s left of the failed $800 billion stimulus.  What American entrepreneurs and workers need right away is for Washington to get serious about its out-of-control spending and eliminate the uncertainty surrounding the 2001 and 2003 tax rates that are set to expire on January 1.

“I commend House Republicans who are rallying behind two specific ideas I supported earlier this summer to cut spending and create jobs. I support a freeze of federal non-defense, non-veteran discretionary spending at 2008 levels, in addition to enacting a two-year freeze on all current tax rates.  While I believe the optimal course is to permanently extend the existing tax rates for working families and businesses, preserve the higher child tax credit and prevent the return of the marriage penalty and death tax, our most immediate goal should be to make sure taxes do not go up in just 112 days as Washington’s leadership is callously prepared to do.”

In one of the longer press conferences that he or any other Presidents has held in the last couple of decades, Barack Obama today discussed a wide range of subjects with the media at the White House.

The first third of the presser dealt exclusively with the economy, as Obama again discussed his package of tax breaks and other incentives that includes a new loan fund that would encourage community banks to provide up to $30 billion to small businesses, improving access to credit, legislation that he said in the past would engender 90% to 100% support from Congressional Republicans in the past, but said that partisan gamesmanship precluded their support now.

To boost his theory, he cited the endorsement on Thursday by outgoing GOP Ohio Senator George Voinovich, who explained to The Washington Post today why he now supports the President's plan:

In an interview, Voinovich said he could no longer support Republican efforts to delay the measure in hopes of winning the right to offer additional amendments. Most of the proposed GOP amendments "didn't have anything to do with the bill" anyway, Voinovich said, and amounted merely to partisan "messaging."

"We don't have time for messaging," Voinovich said. "We don't have time anymore. This country is really hurting."

The President was asked at the very beginning of his press conference if he expected Democrats to take a drubbing in the fall if the Congressional midterms are looked at as a referendum on how he has handled the economy, where unemployment remains at a stubborn high, now at 9.5%.

Obama said that "people are frustrated and people are angry," and acknowledged that since  the Democrats have controlled all three branches of the federal government for the past year and a half, "people ask, 'what have you done?'"

Obama's $30 billion plan for small businesses is part of a$ $180 billion in fresh infrastructure spending and business tax breaks that he has called, which include permanently extending research and development tax credits for businesses, rewarding companies that develop technologies domestically and preserve American jobs.

But to many Americans, that smells like  a "stimulus" plan redux, which fairly or not, has been perceived as a bust.  When CBS News' Chip Reid asked Obama if his plan was a stimulus in everything but name because of the negative taint that word now has, Obama rebuked him, saying that it's his job to stimulate job growth, and he'll continue to do everything he can to "stimulate" the economy until his last day in office.

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