In what was a recurring theme in both his opening remarks, and in response to audience questions, President Barack Obama called on a crowd of 500 in the Town Meeting at Seed Savers Exchange Monday night to put pressure on their legislators to cease "the rhetoric of partisan brinkmanship where politicians put party ahead of country."
Obama addressed economic issues in part by noting that the recession had basically been reversed, but that in the last six month some uncontrolled forces have contributed to the stall: the Japanese tsunami, the "Arab Spring," and European economic struggles. He also said that the debt is manageable with intelligent choices. Rather than call Congress back into special session, he said it was important for them to go back home and hear the frustrations of their constituents, so they could come back and work toward intelligent compromises.
The theme of compromise was highlighted several times as President Obama defended himself for what some have criticized as backing off on campaign values. He highlighted the successes of healthcare legislation and noted that much of that legislation is still in process. He said he had compromised on tax cuts that, even though continuing tax breaks for the wealthy, were needed to preserve middle class tax relief. Related to compromise, he also noted that everyone needs to be willing to sacrifice and do their fair share. But in those remarks he continued his push, supported by recent Warren Buffet remarks, that the wealthy and large corporations (specifically singling out large oil) are not doing their fair share.
"Democracy is a messy business and we romanticize it. With a separation of power, Big Things require compromise." He added that Congress needs to focus on what they have in common, rather than on their differences. When Congress reconvenes he intends to present his best ideas - that include ideas from everyone. He laughed as he said he had been criticized for being reasonable, and he wouldn't make apologies for being reasonable.
Obama stated that millions of new jobs had been created before the Bush tax cuts, and the tax cuts actually slowed that growth. He called for programs to support education and infrastructure growth. In response to comments about unions, he said that many have amnesia about unions and collective bargaining, and that it was collective bargaining that led to the middle class in America. He was careful to note that unions also need to be reasonable in their fair share of give and take during difficult economic times.
Obama ended on a note that he called good news: his faith that slowly, surely, when American people put their voice out there to be heard, a voice behind the people, things will change.