President Barack Obama told the White House press corps late Wednesday that his ruthlessly partisan win in the three-week budget impasse shows the value of bipartisan moderation.
Eight days ago, he used the same podium in the same room to tell the same reporters that Republicans were acting like arsonists, kidnappers, deadbeats, butchers, lunatics and extortionists, obsessives, out-of-touch hostage-takers, nuclear-armed terrorists and extremists. (Related: Obama offers to fairly negotiate with nuclear-armed GOP terrorists [VIDEO])
He also worked with Senate Democrats to block numerous agency bills passed by the GOP-led House, then slammed the GOP for not funding the agencies, and even tried to justify the tactic in his appearance last week.
But late Wednesday, Obama dropped the harsh rhetoric and began his new effort to reassure voters prior to a pre-Christmas campaign in which he will seek to raise taxes, spending and immigration.
“I want to thank the leadership for coming together and getting this [budget deal] done,” he told the room of establishment journalists, who pride themselves on their skepticism.
“My hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can’t work on the issues at hand, why we can’t disagree between the parties while still being agreeable, and make sure that we’re not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements,” he declared in a calm and reasonable tone.
“So hopefully that’s a lesson that will be internalized, not just by me but also by Democrats and Republicans, not only the leaders but also the rank and file,” he calmly told the journalists.
No journalist asked a question until he had left the podium.
Obama’s earlier vitriol was matched by similar incendiary rhetoric during the last few weeks.
On Sept. 30, for example, Obama used the same podium to lash at Republicans, portraying them as eager to close down the government and deny contraception to women merely to “save face.”
He said they were willing to “sacrifice the health care of millions of Americans… to extract a ransom… [and to] bring the entire government to a halt or the entire economy to a halt.”
In contrast, GOP leaders, including Rep. John Boehner, used moderate language, appealing for negotiations and for reforms of the trouble-plagued Democratic takeover of the nation’s health-sector.
Obama’s partisan attacks proved more powerful that Boehner’s appeal for compromise, partly because the established media broadcast Obama’s charges without skepticism or contradiction. The GOP establishment ultimately accepted Obama’s no-compromise demands.
Obama’s shift in rhetoric is likely intended to help him reassure voters while he works with Democrats and business lobbies to win several unpopular goals during the next two month.
Those goals include increased spending, increased taxes and doubling the rate of immigration to at least 2 million people per year.
“There are things that we know will help strengthen our economy that we could get done before this year is out,” Obama said.
“We still need to pass a law to fix our broken immigration system… We now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country,” he said.
Obama uses the term “fair” when urging higher taxes.
His phrase “helps hardworking people,” is likely a reference to his plan to increase government spending by discarding the 2011 “sequester” plan that trims federal spending by $1 trillion over 10 years.
His call for passage of an immigration bill is likely to spur more conflict, in large part, because polls show few Americans support the Senate’s immigration plan, especially its increased inflow of foreign blue-collar and university-trained workers.
The Senate’s immigration plan would triple legal immigration to 3 million per year over the next decade, and double the resident population of university-trained guest workers.
The bill would also shift more of the nation’s income from wage earners to investors, according to a June report by the Congressional Budget Office.
However, the bill would also boost the number of Democratic-leaning immigrants citizens by 10 million within a decade.
“That’s what I believe the American people are looking for — not a focus on politics, not a focus on elections, but a focus on the concrete steps that can improve their lives,” Obama told the journalists in the press room.
“That’s going to be my focus. I’m looking forward to Congress doing the same,” he added.