President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.
“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
One White House official confirmed the comment but said he was simply trying to make a larger point about bipartisan efforts.
“There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats,” the official said. “We shouldn’t let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.”
That wasn’t Obama’s only jab at Republicans today
While discussing the stimulus package with top lawmakers in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, President Obama shot down a critic with a simple message.
“I won,” he said, according to aides who were briefed on the meeting. “I will trump you on that.”
The response was to the objection by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) to the president’s proposal to increase benefits for low-income workers who don’t owe federal income taxes.
Not that Obama was gloating. He was just explaining that he aims to get his way on the stimulus package and all other legislation, sources said, noting his unrivaled one-party control of both congressional chambers.
Republicans, along with Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate, met with Obama to hammer out details on a stimulus package that has reached $825 billion.
“We are experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis that has to be dealt with and dealt with rapidly,” Obama said during the meeting. Republicans say that is too big a burden for a nation already crippled by debt and that it doesn’t do enough to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes.
“You know, I’m concerned about the size of the package. And I’m concerned about some of the spending that’s in there, [about] … how you can spend hundreds of millions on contraceptives,” House GOP Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) later said. “How does that stimulate the economy?”
But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs countered: “There was a lot of agreement in that room this morning about the notion that we’re facing an economic crisis unlike we’ve seen in quite some time … There was agreement that we must act quickly to stimulate the economy, create jobs, put money back in people’s pockets.”
Gibbs disagreed with those who called the meeting window dressing.
“The president is certainly going to listen to any ideas,” he said. “He will also go to Capitol Hill the beginning of next week to talk to Republican caucuses and solicit their input and their ideas.”
Obama acknowledged that $825 billion was a tough price tag for some conservatives and deficit hawks to swallow.
“I know that it is a heavy lift to do something as substantial as we’re doing right now,” he said. “I recognize there are still some differences around the table and between the administration and members of Congress about particular details on the plan,” he said. “But I think what unifies this group is a recognition that we are experiencing an unprecedented, perhaps, economic crisis that has to be dealt with,” he said.
The president added that legislation governing the use of an additional $350 billion in bailout money for the financial industry must include new measures to ensure accountability.
And he continued his initial round of calls to foreign leaders, dialing up Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Saudi King Abdallah and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
With Post Wires