This week's press conference was more of the same President Obama whom we saw on the campaign trail this year. He was resolute and even defiant. And though there was more conciliation at times than we are normally used to hearing from the president, he was ultimately espousing the same attitude towards resolving our fiscal challenges that we have heard all along.
The president’s tone and focus on cutting taxes for middle class Americans indicated that he was more interested in preserving his agenda than resolving our mounting fiscal challenges. Indeed, the president is well aware of the Republican stance and he did not show any willingness to compromise on rates via revenue. His speech did little to assuage fears that we are on the precipice of heading over the fiscal cliff.
The president was resolute in his economic posture and, considering this, his purported willingness to compromise seemed rhetorical at best.
The financial markets heard the same message I did – more of the same. As a consequence, the markets demonstrated rational pessimism towards a president who does not seem to recognize the severity of our fiscal situation. We are facing financial Armageddon and the same policy positions simply will not do. The market closed down some 200 points having been down only 60 points before the president began.
On Libya, President Obama called attacks on Ambassador Susan Rice “outrageous.” His spirited defense of Rice included making it very clear that when she went on the Sunday shows and said the attack on the Benghazi consulate was in response to the film trailer and not an act of terror she was speaking for the White House.
To be sure, the president’s defense of Ambassador Rice could be a prelude to her being elevated to Secretary of State after Hillary Clinton’s imminent departure from the post.
The president clearly believes that the Republicans will fold and offer more compromises than they have yet to offer. And he may very well be right about this. But the fact that he might, and I emphasize the word might, does not bring us any closer to a resolution as to how we can resolve our outstanding controversies with the debt, deficit and the overall fiscal crisis we face.
Considering all the talk of bipartisanship and compromise over the past week, the president’s press conference is surely disappointing.