In a surprise last-minute news conference, and the final one of his first term, President Obama addressed reporters from the East Room today.
Opening with discussion of raising the debt ceiling, the president called naysayers who are refusing to “pay our nation’s debt” both “absurd” and “irresponsible.”
Obama made myriad analogous comments to define the meaning of raising the debt ceiling in easy-to-understand terms. Possibly the most clear-cut example came with the president’s restaurant/debt ceiling analogy:
“It’s not a complicated concept: you don’t go out to dinner, and then eat all you want, and then leave without paying the check. If Congress wants to have a debate about ‘maybe we shouldn’t go out to dinner next time,’ or ‘maybe we should go to a more modest restaurant’ — that’s fine. That’s a debate we should have. What you don’t say is ‘in order to control my appetite I’m not going to pay my bill to the people who already provided me services.’ That’s not showing discipline; that’s not meeting your obligations.”
The president spoke of the fiscal and personal devastation that could occur if the House G.O.P. refused to raise the debt ceiling. The worst case scenarios would— among other things — halt Social Security benefits, stop payment to U. S. military veterans, and raise interest rates.
On the first lunaversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, which left twenty-six dead, the president spoke of “vigorously” pursuing gun control legislation:
“What you can count on is that the things that I’ve said in the past — the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, and that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them [as well as]an assault weapons ban that’s meaningful — those are things I continue to believe make sense.”
Furthermore, Obama said that there were “steps we can take to reduce gun violence —some of them will require legislation, [and] some of them I can accomplish through executive action.”
And as if to quell the irrational fears from the right that the government wishes to “take away their guns,” the president attempted to allay the rumors:
“…responsible gun owners — people who have a gun for protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship — they don’t have anything to worry about.”