The White House Press Office released a statement by President Barack Obama expressing optimism Congress could work for the greater good of America rather than political parties after a meeting Tuesday (Nov. 30) with bipartisan leaders.
The statement is a bit chatty and reads like a script, starting with:
"THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. By the way, for those of you who are curious, we're using this room because we've got about a hundred volunteers decorating the White House. So we're spending a little more time in the EEOB." (The EEOB being the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, relevant only to Washington insiders or, perhaps, stalkers.)
He goes on to say:
" It’s no secret that we have had differences that have led us to part ways on many issues in the past. But we are Americans first, and we share a responsibility for the stewardship of our nation. The American people did not vote for gridlock. They didn’t vote for unyielding partisanship. They’re demanding cooperation and they’re demanding progress. And they’ll hold all of us — and I mean all of us — accountable for it. And I was very encouraged by the fact that there was broad recognition of that fact in the room. ... I think everybody understands that the American people want us to focus on their jobs, not ours. They want us to come together around strategies to accelerate the recovery and get Americans back to work. They want us to confront the long-term deficits that cloud our future. They want us to focus on their safety and security, and not allow matters of urgent importance to become locked up in the politics of Washington."
Obama says the leaders have pledged to work right away to get things done before Congress leaves Washington, D.C. for the holidays. His wish list (and promises) include:
1. NOT raising taxes "by thousands of dollars on hardworking middle-class Americans come January 1st." He recognizes the GOP and Dems disagree heartily on the matter of taxes, with Republicans supporting permanently extending tax cuts and Democrats firmly against it as Congress contemplates "deep budget cuts that require broad sacrifice."
2. Preserving tax breaks set to expire at the end of the month, including a tax credit for college tuition, a tax credit for working families, and a tax cut for businesses that hire unemployed workers.
3. Ratification of a new START treaty allowing the U.S. to monitor Russia’s nuclear arsenal, reduce America's nuclear weapons, and strengthen the country's relationship with Russia.
4. Deficit reduction.
5. Extending unemployment benefits, which expired Nov. 30.
Obama ended the note by saying he may grant senior Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's wish to be invited to Camp David. "Harry Reid mentioned that he’s been in Congress for 28 years; he’s never been to Camp David. And so I told him, well, we're going to have to get them all up there sometime soon."
There was no mention of whether the U.S. should send an open letter to Afghanistan giving everyone, friends and foes alike, the date, time and place of American troop withdrawals. Perhaps that will be discussed at Camp David. Another question is whether Obama send his wish list to Santa Claus. There are only 24 shopping days left until Christmas.