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Obama: The GOP Is Being Dishonest

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Obama-480x334.jpgPresident Barack Obama listens to a question from the audience Wednesday in Des Moines. (Meghan Malloy/The Iowa Independent)

Republican leaders have been dishonest with the American people on how they intend to pull the nation out of a recession, President Barack Obama said Wednesday morning during a backyard chat at the home of a Des Moines family. “It’s time to make tough choices and put politics aside,” Obama said to 70 attendees who were invited guests to Wednesday’s backyard chat.

[Congress1] The president specifically cited $700 billion in tax cuts enacted during the administration of President George W. Bush and set to expire this year which would impact the top two percent of the U.S. population as a way to demonstrate his point about the Republican economic solutions.

“We don’t have $700 billion for these cuts. So we’ll have to either borrow — and thereby increase our deficit — or cut the equivalent of 20 percent of our educational budget,” he said. “We cannot solve our big problems without being honest when confronting them. The fact of the matter is, you can’t say you want to invest in our children and then have $700 billion tax cuts for the top two percent (of the U.S. population).”

Obama said the key to rebuilding the nation’s economy is reform.

“We need to emphasize reform on finance, education and health care in our country,” he said. “The challenges we face now are real. They’re not going away today or tomorrow. But we are on the right track.”

Before flying into Des Moines Tuesday night, Obama held a similar backyard chat about education in Albuquerque, N.M. Immediately following his visit to Iowa, the president was expected to hold another backyard chat on tax cuts in Richmond, Va.

Obama took several minutes before and after speaking to individually greet attendees. After giving a brief address on his take where the national economy is headed, Obama took questions from the crowd to hear their economic concerns.

Questions ranged from what the Obama administration plans to do to create jobs for the thousands who are out of work and in poverty, to how he planned to reduce spending on current overseas conflicts, to how the new health care bill would financially impact Americans. And while the president was given a warm reception, attendees were not shy about asking what specifically the Obama administration had planned to help restore the country financially and economically.

“I thought it was good for (Obama) and good for the neighbors here,” neighbor and Des Moines city councilman Chris Coleman said. “I was impressed that he got some tough questions from people who are not entirely pleased with how he’s handled the economy. And he took the time to answer them.”

Obama reiterated the main points of his new health care bill, emphasizing Americans with satisfactory insurance coverage would not be forced to forfeit it for a government-subsidized plan.

“If you’re happy with what you got, no one is going to make change that,” he said. “For those without coverage, they will have the option to purchase a health insurance plan through a pool they are a part of. If you can’t afford it, (the government) will provide subsidies.”

“This is something very personal, and I understand it’s very scary when you’re living without health insurance,” he said, adding that nothing in plan addresses coverage of undocumented people living in the U.S.

Obama also said even if spending on the Afghanistan conflict was greatly reduced, a peace dividend would not immediately follow.

“There would still be hang-over costs, including for our veterans,” he said. “Our veterans have served us well, and in return, we need to serve them well. Nation building begins at home; this is the nation I want to build.”

The neighborhood in Des Moines Obama visited is quiet and unassuming. Many homes in the area sport campaign signs for Gov. Chet Culver, U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell and Senate Democratic hopeful Roxanne Conlin. Neighbors stood out on their front lawns to greet the president’s motorcade, camcorders and cameras in hand.

The president visited the home of Jeff Clubb and Sandy Hatfield Clubb, who live in a west side neighborhood of Des Moines. Hatfield Clubb is the director of athletics for Drake University, and many of the guests Wednesday were Drake coaches and student athletes. More prominent guests included the governor and Attorney General Tom Miller.

“It’s amazing,” Hatfield Clubb said of hosting the president. The family found out they would have a famous visitor last Thursday evening.

“I think the first thing I said to Jeff was, ‘Do we have time to remodel our kitchen?’” Hatfield Clubb said with a laugh.

Culver praised Obama’s efforts to reach out to the American people through backyard chats.

“He was generous with his time to talk to people,” Culver said. “I appreciate that he was candid, he was direct. People here today will leave feeling better about our future.”

Culver said he was pleased with Obama’s overall performance since assuming office in 2009.

“(Obama) was left with a giant mess,” the governor said. “I do believe he’s shown the leadership this nation has needed. He said it himself — it’s going to be a slow and steady return to where this country once was economically.”

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