I wish that I had good news about the tax cuts, but the wimps in Congress have departed Washington without doing what needed to be done, so I say don't let them return, throw them all out and let's start with a new group.
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Obama Faces Policy Doubts in Backyard Meeting
Sep 29, 2010 2:18 PM EDT
President Barack Obama on Wednesday defended his economic policies as he faced tough questions from skeptical Americans less than five weeks before congressional elections that threaten his fellow Democrats' grip on Congress.
Holding the latest in a series of backyard meetings with middle-class voters, Obama heard one small business man's fears that his tax plans could "strangle job creation." The president also fielded concerns about high unemployment and the impact of his health care overhaul.
It was a marked contrast to the enthusiastic university crowd that greeted Obama on Tuesday in Wisconsin when he sought to fire up his youthful base of support, and showed the obstacles his Democratic Party faces in the Nov. 2 elections.
Obama stood up for his economic agenda but acknowledged that the country faced "hard decisions" as he works to shore up the struggling economy and rein in huge budget deficits.
"We're not going to be able to address our big problems unless we honestly address them," he told several dozen people gathered at an Iowa home.
One questioner brought up her 24-year-old son, who graduated from college with honors and campaigned enthusiastically for Obama in 2008, but has been unable to find a full-time job.
"He and many of his friends are struggling. They are losing their hope, which is a message that you inspired them with," she said.
A small businessman who runs a promotional products firm expressed concern about Obama's proposal to extend Bush-era tax cuts only on personal income of $250,000 or less, and also bemoaned policies he said would discourage hiring.
"As the government gets more and more involved in business and gets more involved in taxes, what you're finding ... you're sort of strangling the engine that does create jobs," the man said.
'PAYING OUR BILLS'
Obama defended his tax proposal, which he says is aimed at helping middle-class earners while avoiding what he sees as unneeded tax breaks for wealthier Americans. The issue has sparked heated debate between Democrats and Republicans with elections approaching.
"I'd like to keep taxes low so that you can create more jobs," Obama said. "But I also have to make sure that we are paying our bills and we're not putting it off 'til the next generation."
Obama drew more than 25,000 people to a rally on Tuesday at the University of Wisconsin, where he appealed to young voters -- who generally tend to favor Democrats but are less likely to go to the polls -- to turn out and back his party.
"We need you to stay fired up because there is an election on Nov. 2 that is going to say a lot about the future -- your future and the future of our country," he told the crowd. The event was reminiscent of his triumphant rallies late in his 2008 presidential campaign.
Questioners at Wednesday's backyard event were polite and respectful, with some expressing appreciation for Obama's hard work in the presidency. But some of the questions were more pointed than he has faced at other such events.
Obama's four-state trip was meant to re invigorate his party's base.
Democrats, in fact, are showing signs of gaining ground on Republicans in their enthusiasm for voting. This month, 79 percent of Democrats said they were certain to vote, compared to 67 percent in August, according to Reuters/Ipsos poll results released on Tuesday.
Republican enthusiasm remained largely unchanged, with 91 percent saying they are certain to vote.
Obama appealed to Hispanics in two interviews that aired during the weekend on Spanish-language television and with an education-focused backyard event in New Mexico. Then he targeted young voters in Madison, and on Wednesday was making his economic case to the middle-class with backyard events in Iowa and Virginia.