Obama in final first-term press conference: Republicans are ‘suspicious’ about feeding poor children

Vince Coglianese | Editorial Director

President Barack Obama used the final press conference of his first term Monday to demonize Republicans as uncaring leaders “suspicious” of feeding poor children.

Below is a selection of the president’s sharpest quotes aimed at his political opponents:

Obama says Republicans want to ‘collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy’:

“So we’ve got to pay our bills. And Republicans in Congress have two choices here. They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.”

“The last time Republicans in Congress even flirted with this idea, our AAA credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history.”

Obama blames Congress for increased spending, claims no role:

“This is a matter of, Congress authorizes spending. They order me to spend. They tell me, you need to fund our Defense Department at such-and-such a level, you need to send out Social Security checks, you need to make sure that you are paying to care for our veterans. They lay all this out for me, and — because they have the spending power. And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills.”

“There’s one way to deal with it, and that is for Congress to authorize me to pay for those items of spending that they have already authorized. And the — you know the — the notion that Republicans in — in the House, or maybe some Republicans in the Senate would suggest that in order for us to get our way on our spending priorities, that we would risk the full faith and credit of the United States, that I think is not what the founders intended.”

Obama says Republicans who would use debt ceiling fight to deliver spending cuts hold ‘a gun at the head of the American people’:

“I’m happy to have that conversation. What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people — the threat that unless we get our way, unless you gut Medicare or Medicaid, or, you know, otherwise slash things that the American people don’t believe should be slashed, that we’re going to threaten to wreck the entire economy. That is not how historically this has been done. That’s not how we’re going to do it this time.”

Obama says Republicans only want two options:  hurting ‘middle-class families,’ ‘seniors,’ and ‘kids’ or ‘[blowing] up the economy’:

“And so what we’re not going to do is put ourselves in a position where in order to pay for spending that we’ve already incurred, that our two options are: we’re either going to profoundly hurt the economy, and hurt middle-class families, and hurt seniors, and hurt kids who are trying to go to college, or alternatively we’re going to blow up the economy.”

Obama says his re-election should signal to Republicans that they’re wrong:

“And despite that conversation, and despite the election results, the position that’s been taken, on the part of some House republicans, is that, ‘Nope, we gotta do it our way. And if we don’t, we simply won’t pay America’s bills.'”

Obama says long lines for gun purchases are being caused by fear-mongering pro-gun groups:

“As far as people lining up and purchasing more guns, I think that we’ve seen for some time now that those who oppose any common sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government’s about to take all your guns away. And, you know, there’s probably an economic element to that. It obviously is good for business, but I think that those of us who look at this problem have repeatedly said that responsible gun owners, people who have a gun for protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship, they don’t have anything to worry about.”

Obama says Republicans are ‘suspicious’ about government feeding poor children:

“But it seems as if what’s motivating and propelling at this point some of the House Republicans is more than simply deficit reduction. They have a particular vision about what government should and should not do, so they are suspicious about government’s commitments, for example, to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older. They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research.”

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