Tags: Podesta | Obama | Senate | Democrat

John Podesta Speaks on Obama Agenda — Part II

By    |   Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 07:40 AM

John Podesta, counselor to President Obama, appeared before Washington reporters June 6 at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor to discuss the administration's agenda and to take questions from reporters. David Cook, senior editor of The Monitor, moderated the event.

The first article in this series focused on the new pollution rule the Environmental Protection Agency has issued at the behest of the administration. This article will concentrate on questions reporters raised about the president's political standing, as affected by the pollution rule and some other issues.

Obama's Political Standing

Cook asked about a remark by President Obama that he really doesn't care to serve without the Senate, and Cook referred to a column by Michael Gerson in The Washington Post suggesting that Obama has chosen his legacy over Senate control by complicating the message of some Democratic Senate candidates and "exposing them to political risks he refused to take himself." Cook asked, "What, if anything, is wrong with that analysis?" Podesta reminded Cook that in previous White House service under President Clinton Podesta had "banned the word 'legacy.'"

Podesta was confronted with a question regarding complaints by Democrats that while Obama has been good at fundraising, "there is a lot of Democratic unhappiness with the level of the president's engagement in the congressional campaigns . . . they don't feel he's been at all effective in framing a message that Democrats can run on."

Podesta responded that Obama has "framed a choice between an economy that works for the middle class and working people versus an economy that is based on old failed ideas." He assured the reporter that Obama will engage "as appropriate" and more "when the campaign heats up in the fall." The reporter clearly was not satisfied, and Podesta had to repeat his argument.

Another reporter brought up complaints by some Democrats that the president is "tone deaf" on some issues, shown by the staging of a Rose Garden announcement of Bowe Bergdahl's release and slow response to the VA scandal. Podesta responded that the president went into the Rose Garden to "take ownership of" what he knew would be a controversial decision, that Bergdahl was "under great distress," "[the president] makes no apologies for it" and Podesta agrees with the decision.

Alexis Simendinger added her voice to the questions of others when she referred to a New York Times report about the concern of a Senate Democrat "that it's time to stop putting out fires." Podesta responded that the president doesn't get a chance to make the call as to timing and that he plans to come back to the issue of improving the economy. The reporter nodded as though she was satisfied with the answer.

Another reporter connected the climate change issue with the question of the president's effectiveness as a campaigner, pointing out that Democratic Senate candidates in West Virginia and Kentucky had moved within hours of its announcement to denounce the coal rule and that Republicans are calling it "an assault against the poor" because it drives up fuel costs.

He responded that the cost of electricity would decline by 8 percent during the course of the program, and "the administration has a commitment to make sure that people get affordable, reliable electricity" under the proposed bill. He reminded the audience that "the poor are the most affected by the public health implications of continued pollution at the levels that we're seeing."

Podesta deflected the issue of the effects of the rule on "coal country" by saying that the share of coal in production of electricity would decline only from 40 percent to 30 percent by 2040.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
John Podesta, counselor to President Obama, appeared before Washington reporters June 6 at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor to discuss the administration's agenda and to take questions from reporters. David Cook, senior editor of The Monitor, moderated the event.
Podesta, Obama, Senate, Democrat
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2014-40-17
Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 07:40 AM
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