Q&A: Fiscal Summit

for us to move forward on a recovery package.

There were some differences, significant differences between the parties about this.  I would suggest that if you look at the differences, they amounted to maybe 10, maybe 15 percent of the total package.  There wasn’t a lot of argument about countercyclical payments to states to make sure that people had extended unemployment insurance or food stamps.  There wasn’t a lot of disagreement about some of the infrastructure that needs to be repaired, and there wasn’t a lot of disagreement on the tax cut front — 15, 20 percent of it, there were some disagreements about.

But the reason I make this point is that if we’re going to be successful moving forward, it’s important for us to distinguish between legitimate policy differences and our politics.  And the reason that there is no contradiction, from my perspective, in doing the recovery package first but now focusing on the medium and long term, is because our hope is that this economy starts recovering.  We will have taken a hit, in terms of our debt and our deficit.  But as Bob Greenstein said, the recovery package will account for about one-tenth of 1 percent of our long-term debt.  The real problems are the structural deficits and the structural debt that we’ve been accumulating and all of us are complicit in.

So we’ve got to get that taken care of.  We would have had to get it taken care of whether or not there was a recession; this just underscores the urgency of it.  And I’m hopeful that we move forward in that spirit in the days and weeks and months to come.

So thank you, everybody.  Appreciate it.  (Applause.)

Source: The White House

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