CQ Politics: House Republicans said that Obama defended the existing stimulus package but assured them there were would be room to incorporate some changes during negotiations between the House and Senate over a final version.
Several members said they still plan to vote against the House bill Wednesday but would take another look when a final version comes back to the House.
“Sometimes you have to vote no the first time around,” Rep. Jack Kingston , R-Ga., said. “The real test will be what happens a week from now.”
“The most encouraging statement the president made was that he had no pride of authorship” over the House bill, said Minority Whip Eric Cantor , R-Va. “I took that to mean that tomorrow’s vote is a first step.”
Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr. , R-S.C., described the meeting as having “a relaxed atmosphere. Everybody was jovial.” He added that from Obama’s remarks “it was pretty evident that he had a good handle on the content of the bill.”
Rep. Peter T. King , R-N.Y., said Obama drew laughter and cheers from the lawmakers when he agreed to extend the question and answer period from 25 minutes to 30 minutes, even though it would make him late to meet GOP senators.
King said Obama told them “The Senate can wait. You see I can pander with the best of you.”
House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana said prior to the meeting that Democrats had drafted a purely partisan bill. He said Republican leaders would undertake a public campaign against it. “The American people need to know that President Obama’s call for compromise has been completely ignored.”
Obama open to more tax breaks for small businesses:
While Obama didn’t promise major changes to the package, GOP members said he showed flexibility on some issues.What else did Obama say?
“The president did say he has some concerns over the spending proposals he sees in this bill,” Boehner said.
Participants said Obama took about 10 questions. Peter J. Roskam, R-Ill., had one of the more charged exchanges with Obama, after complaining that House Democratic leaders had shut out GOP amendments and seemed to be taking a much less compromising approach than the negotiated bipartisan approach suggested by Obama.
“He said he would be open to hear about tax breaks for small business. I might get back to him,” Roskam said. Read more at CQ
US NEWS: "Obama is speaking now. He is talking about how bad the economy is and that it is deteriorating rapidly."
- "Mentioned Caterpillar and Microsoft having to layoff workers."
- "The president said that the stimulus is 'just one leg in multi leg stool to get economy going.'
- "He wants to deal with the housing market more aggressively."
- "This is just the first step."
- "Obama said the he would 'like not to have to spend the stimulus money.'"
- "He also said that he has 'no interest in increasing government just to increase the size of government.'"
- On taxes, "Obama says tax relief for some working families must come from payroll so even families who don't pay income taxes get relief and they will spend it."
- On GOP complaints, "he said that 'there will be time to beat him up and a time for politics. He said I understand that and I will watch you on Fox News and feel bad about myself.'"
- "Obama said if we can do more small business tax relief, 'we should do it, but I am just as concerned about the long term impact of tax cuts as I am about spending.'"
- "He also issued concern about the debt. 'I will be judged by the legacy I have left behind. I don't want to leave our children with a legacy of debt. I am inheriting an annual yearly debt of over $1 trillion.'"
Apparently, what Obama did today was rare:
PI: Obama's trip to Capitol Hill was rare for a sitting president, especially given his decision to meet only with the opposition. He met with Democratic lawmakers earlier this month.
In his comments, Obama said he is "absolutely confident" that the country can find ways to solve the country's economic woes. But he said "the key right now is to make sure that we keep politics to a minimum."