At tonight’s White House press conference, NPR’s Mara Liasson asked President Obama what lessons he has learned through the process of negotiating with Republicans over the economic recovery package. Obama explained there’s a lot of people who “sort of want to test the limits of what they can get.”
Reflecting further, Obama reminded the journalists present that the conservatives had originally expressed their approval of Obama’s plan to offer over $300 billion in tax cuts. But over time, they decided not to negotiate in good faith:
They were pleasantly surprised and complimentary about the tax cut that were presented in that framework. Those tax cuts are still in there. I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that’s the lesson I learned.
He added, “People have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we’ve been carrying around for too long.”
Obama went on rip Republicans who now lecture about the need for fiscal responsibility. “It’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they presided over a doubling of the national debt,” he said. “I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.” Watch it:
In early January, when Obama unveiled his recovery plan, ThinkProgress’ Matt Yglesias warned of the problem with starting off the stimulus negotiation with a healthy amount of tax cuts. “It’s one thing to unveil a compromise as a result of a bipartisan negotiation, and another thing to unveil an opening bid that you say you hope conservatives can get on board with,” he wrote.