Obama and the Flag
Then-Senator Barack Obama said on "Meet The Press" in , "As I've said Obama supposedly said this on the September 7, airing of. Transcript of the Dec. 7, broadcast of NBC's 'Meet the Press,' featuring President-elect Barack Obama. EST, Televised "Meet the Press" THE THEN Senator Obama was . during an alleged September 7, , appearance on Meet the Press (which.
Virtually no one else believes it's a good idea. It's not a victory, as Senator Lindsey Graham said the other night Or as John McCain said. Or John McCain said, but the conditions are in place, and Anbar province, where you have been, where there had been so much difficulty, the Iraqis now have taken over that province.
We have brigades that have Sunnis and Shia serving side by side But it's a process, and it's beginning, and the surge made that possible, did it not? The surge helped make that--what made is possible in Anbar province is they did what I'd suggested two and a half years ago: They turned over and they said to the Sunnis in Anbar province, "We promise you, don't worry, you're not going to have any Shia in here.
There's going to be no national forces in here. We're going to train your forces to help you fight al-Qaeda. The awakening was not an awakening by us, it was an awakening of the Sunnis in Anbar province willing to fight. Cooperating with the Shia. Cooperating with--no, they weren't cooperating with Shiite.
They didn't cooperate with the Shiites. Once the awakening got under way. No, they didn't cooperate with the Shiites. It's still--it's a big problem, Tom. You got--we're paying bucks a month to each of those guys.
Now the problem has been and the, and the promise was made by Maliki that they would be integrated into the overall military. That's a process that is beginning in fits and starts now, but it's far from over. Far from--look, the bottom line here is that it's--let's--the surge is over. Here's the real point. Whether or not the surge worked is almost irrelevant now. We're in a new deal. What is the administration doing?Paul Ryan On Spending Bill, President Obama And 2016 - Meet The Press - NBC News
They're doing what Barack Obama has suggested over 14 months ago, turn responsibility over and draw down our troops. We're about to get a deal from the president of the United States and Maliki, the head of the Iraqi government, that's going to land on my desk as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee saying we're going to set a timeline to draw down our forces.
The only guy in America out of step is John McCain. John McCain's saying no timeline. They've signed on to Barack Obama's proposal. But the surge helped make that timeline possible, did it not? Well, it did help make it possible. But it's not the reason. Look, they also--take a look at the analysis, Tom. They say the reason why there's such success against the, the insurgency is because of now small, very well trained counterinsurgency units.
It's not the numbers, it's the type of units that are in there. What I was arguing about before was we have the wrong units in there. We have the wrong kind of force in there. We weren't focused on counterinsurgency. And so look--but, but, but the bottom line is we can argue about whether the surge was good, bad or indifferent.
Let's assume it was all good. The truth of the matter is, what do we do now? What's John McCain going to do when he's president? He says he will not sign on to a timeline, number one. Number two, he has no, no idea, no suggestion how he's going to deal with the neighbors.
He has no idea how he's going to deal with Iraq. He has no idea how he's going to deal with Syria. He has no idea how he's going to deal with Turkey.
We have laid out a clear plan. But two years ago you were the principal author, along with Les Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, of an entirely different kind of plan. You were promoting heavily the idea of a confederation, or a partition. That's exact--not, not a partition. You guys keep saying that.
It was never a partition. Or the--we'll make it a confederation. That's what it was. But the--but terms of real political terms, it would quickly become a partition. Absolutely, positively not true. You think that the Kurds in the north and the, and the, and the Sunnis and the Shia would just say, "Oh, we can all get across--get together across lines," without having a prescription There was a central government that had power, but there was more power given to the localities like exist right now.
Tom, tell me, what's changed up among, among the Kurds? You still not--cannot, under the Iraqi constitution, send an Iraqi army up there. You still not--cannot fly an Iraqi flag up there unless you get permission. Tell me what's happened in Anbar province.
It is de facto exactly what I said. Everything that's working in Iraq has been the bottom up approach, not a strong central government imposing. And the truth of the matter is the only way you're going to make this--sustain it, the question is, how do we leave and leave a stable Iraq behind? Without a political settlement, Tom, we're going to be back there in another year or two or three or five.
But are you encouraged they're moving toward a political settlement? Yes, I am encouraged, because they're doing the things I suggested. They're localizing it, Tom. That's why it is moving toward some mild possibility of a resolution. And if you were to now follow up--if John McCain as president, would follow up like we will as president and say, "OK, how do you get the rest of the neighborhood in the deal?
And every--you know, this talk about how this has been such a great success, look where we are now in the Middle East. You now have a Shia-dominated government close to Iran.
When Ahmadinejad comes, he kisses him on both cheek and seeks permission. So give me a break about how this is such a great political success. We have the bravest soldiers in the world. I said at the time of the surge, if we sent introops we could tamp this down immediately, shut it down and end all violence. But that would not solve the problem.
What do we do when we leave? And that's the hard work, and that requires the region as well. And you don't hear a word from John about that--John McCain. You don't hear a word from Sarah Palin about that. But you do now from the administration. The administration's now signing on to Barack Obama's plan to set a timeline, to--not the exact plan, but to set a timeline to draw down American troops.
Five years from now, do you think Iraq will have relative stability and democratic principles in a central government? If there is an Obama-Biden administration, yeah. If there is a John McCain administration and Sarah Palin, I think it's probably not going to happen, because John does not view this in terms of the region.
I never heard him speak about how he's going to integrate Iraq into the region where you have these competing interests that exist. And I, I, I just--now, John may have an idea. I've never heard it. And by the way, that Biden proposal, 75 senators voted for it, including the majority of the Republican Party. But the Iraqi government didn't like the idea.
Well, the Iraqi government--Maliki didn't, but the rest of the government liked it. But he is the head of the government. Yeah--by the way, it is their country, but he's the head of the government, but he's the head of the government whose popularity is very much in question, and the election itself.
You had a whole lot of people--look, here's going to be the key, Tom. They're about to have regional elections. Let's see how they go. Let's see how the regional elections go. Pray God they'll go well for the sake of all of our sons that are there. Let's move on to some domestic issues. The country's waking up this morning to the news that the federal government's about to move in on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
They're in serious trouble at the moment, but they're in a free fall, in effect. The government reorganized them, it appears that they're going to pump in some fresh capital on a quarterly basis, but shareholders will have their shares greatly diluted by this move. But the preferred shareholders--China and other governments that have invested in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--will not suffer, because the government will prop them up.
Well, no, it's not fair, but I don't think that's what's going to happen. I talked to Secretary Paulson last night. I'm not at liberty to lay out what he told me, because he should announce it today.
But there's three principles that have to play here for this to work, in my view. One, you have to make sure that you help homeowners and stabilize, at the same time, financial institutions. Secondly, you got to make sure that you're not bailing out shareholders vs. And the third thing you got to do is make sure that they're still in a position to be able to continue to lend, because there is a need for them to continue to have this elasticity of being able to deal with the market.
Now, what I've heard the outline of, I am--I want to wait till I see all the detail, but if it meets those three principles, then I think it has a great chance of succeeding. And as I understand it, whatever proposal Secretary Paulson is going to make is a proposal to get us over this hump of instability and uncertainty. It's not an official reorganization. It will be left to the next administration and the Congress to make those judgments.
All investors suffer equally? We'll see what the plan is. We want to talk a little bit about both campaigns now describing themselves as an agent of change. Senator Obama has been hard on the case about Washington lobbyists and their influence.
Let's share with you and our viewers just some of the ads and the statements that he's made about all of that, if we can. And suddenly, he's the change agent. He says, "I'm going to tell those lobbyists that their days of running Washington are over. Is he going to tell his campaign chairman, who's one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell his campaign manager, who was one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington?
Click to see transcript. Advertisement A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet: And the anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all. It should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this could possibly be our next president. I hope every one is listening, before it is to late.
If we as a Nation of warring people, should conduct ourselves as the nations of Islam, whereas peace prevails. Perhaps a state or period of mutual concord between our governments. When I become President, I will seek a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity, and a freedom from disquieting oppressive thoughts. We as a Nation have placed upon the nations of Islam an unfair injustice.
Which are the most unpopular ones that the country's going to have to deal with? Well, fortunately, as tough as times are right now--and things are going to get worse before they get better--there is a convergence between circumstances and agenda. The key for us is making sure that we jump-start that economy in a way that doesn't just deal with the short term, doesn't just create jobs immediately, but also puts us on a glide path for long-term, sustainable economic growth.
And that's why I spoke in my radio address on Saturday about the importance of investing in the largest infrastructure program--in roads and bridges and, and other traditional infrastructure--since the building of the federal highway system in the s; rebuilding our schools and making sure that they're energy efficient; making sure that we're investing in electronic medical records and other technologies that can drive down health care costs.
All those things are not only immediate--part of an immediate stimulus package to the economy, but they're also down payments on the kind of long-term, sustainable growth that we need. To give an indication of how quickly things change now, at warp speed, when you and I last saw each other, six weeks ago, I think it was, in Nashville, when I asked you your priorities, you said health care, energy and education would be your top three priorities.
You didn't anticipate at that time that you would have to outline this kind of a stimulus program. The real question in the stimulus program that you have just described and as you shared with, with the American audience in your radio address is how quickly will it mean jobs out there across America and how much is it going to cost and who's going to pay for it?
Well, I think we can get a lot of work done fast. When I met with the governors, all of them have projects that are shovel ready, that are going to require us to get the money out the door, but they've already lined up the projects and they can make them work. And now, we're going to have to prioritize it and do it not in the old traditional politics first wave.
What we need to do is examine what are the projects where we're going to get the most bang for the buck, how are we going to make sure taxpayers are protected. You know, the days of just pork coming out of Congress as a strategy, those days are over.
How much it's going to cost? My economic team is examining that right now. And one of the things I'm very pleased with is how fast we've gotten a first-rate economic team in place, the fastest in modern history. They are busy working, crunching the numbers, looking at the macro-economic data to make a determination as to what the size and the scope of the economic recovery plan needs to be.
But it is going to be substantial. One last point I want to make on this is that we are inheriting an enormous budget deficit. You know, some estimates over a trillion dollars. That's before we do anything. And so we understand that we've got to provide a, a, a blood infusion into the patient right now to make sure that the patient is stabilized, and, and that means that we, we can't worry short term about the deficit.
We've got to make sure that the economic stimulus plan is large enough to get the economy moving. One of the great concerns in this country, of course, is additional job loss, which would be considerable if the Big Three in the auto industry in this country--GM, Ford and Chrysler--were to go down.
That drama has been playing out in Washington and across America. Do you think the Big Three deserve to survive? They have not managed that industry the way they should have, and I've been a strong critic of the auto industry's failure to adapt to changing times--building small cars and energy efficient cars that are going to adapt to a new market.
But what I've also said is, is that the auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing. It is a huge employer across many states. Millions of people, directly or indirectly, are reliant on that industry, and so I don't think it's an option to simply allow it to collapse.
What we have to do is to provide them with assistance, but that assistance is conditioned on them making significant adjustments. They're going to have to restructure, and all their stakeholders are going to have to restructure. Labor, management, shareholders, creditors--everybody's going to recognize that they have--they do not have a sustainable business model right now.
And if they expect taxpayers to help in that adjustment process, then they can't keep on putting off the kinds of changes that they, frankly, should have made 20 or 30 years ago. If, if they want to survive, then they better start building a fuel-efficient car. And if they want to survive, they, they've got to recognize that the auto market is not going to be as large as some of their rosy scenarios that they've put forward over the last several years.
It's pretty clear that the Democrats are going to try to get them a bridge loan to get through the short term, but it's the long term that is the larger question here.
A number of people--Paul Ingrassia, as a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from The Wall Street Journal has said we ought to have a government-structured bankruptcy and maybe even an automobile czar of some kind. Does that kind of plan have any appeal for you? Well, there are a lot of discussions taking place right now between members of Congress, the Bush administration.
'Meet the Press' transcript for Sept. 7, 2008
I've had my team have conversations with these folks to see how can you keep the automakers' feet to the fire in making the changes that are necessary. But understand, these aren't ordinary times.
You know, some people have said let's just send them through a bankruptcy process. Well, even as large a company as GM, in ordinary times, might be able to go through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, restructure, and still keep their business operations going.
When you are seeing this kind of collapse at the same time as you've got the financial system as shaky as, as it is, that means that we're going to have to figure out ways to put the pressure on the way a bankruptcy court would, demand accountability, demand serious changes.
But do so in a way that it allows them to keep the factory doors open. And, you know, right now there's a number of discussions about how to do that, and I hope that we're going to see some short-term progress in the next few days. My economic team is focused on what we expect to inherit on January 20th, and we'll have some very specific plans in terms of how to move that forward.
But help me out here. Are you looking at the possibility of some kind of a government structure that runs that reorganization?
Dec. 7: President-elect Barack Obama - Meet the Press | NBC News
I--we don't want government to run companies. Generally, government historically hasn't done that very well. Not to run the companies but Well, what, what we do need is, if taxpayer money is at stake, which it appears may be the case, we want to make sure that it is conditioned on a auto industry emerging at the end of the process that actually works, that actually functions.
The last thing I want to see happen is for the auto industry to disappear. But I'm also concerned that we don't put 10 or 20 or 30 or whatever billion dollars into an industry, and then, six months to a year later, they come back hat in hand and say, "Give me more. They're going through extraordinarily difficult times right now, and they want to see the kind of accountability that, that, that, unfortunately, we haven't always seen coming out of Washington.
But under that organization or any reorganization that you settle on Here's what I'll, I'll say, that it may not be the same for all the, all the companies, but what I think we have to put an end to is the head-in-the-sand approach to the auto industry that has been prevalent for decades now. I think, in fairness, you have seen some progress made incrementally in many of these companies.
You know, they have been building better cars now than they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. They are making some investments in the kind of green technologies and, and the new batteries that would allow us to create plug-in hybrids. What we haven't seen is a sense of urgency and the willingness to make tough decisions.
And what we still see are executive compensation packages for the auto industry that are out of line compared to their competitors, their Japanese competitors who are doing a lot better. Now, it's not unique to the auto industry.
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We have seen that across the board. Certainly, we saw it on Wall Street. Figure out ways in which workers maybe have to take a haircut, but they can still keep their jobs, they can still keep their health care and they can still stay in their homes.
That kind of notion of shared benefits and burdens is something that I think has been lost for too long, and it's something that I'd like to see restored. Let's talk for a moment about consumer responsibility when it comes to the auto industry. As soon as gas prices began to drop, consumers moved back to the larger cars once again, to SUVs and the big gas consumers. We're not going to have gasoline that you can just fill up your tank for 20 bucks anymore.
Well, keep, keep in mind what's happening in--to families all across America. Yes, gas prices have gone down.
But, in the meantime, maybe somebody in the family's lost their job. In the meantime, their housing values have plummeted. In the meantime, maybe their hours have been cut back. Or if they're a small-business owner, their sales have gone down 50, 60, 70 percent.
So putting additional burdens on American families right now, I think, is a mistake. What we have to do long term is make sure that we have an energy strategy that focuses on fuel-efficient cars, that focuses on providing incentives for fuel-efficient cars.
Same applies to buildings. We have a enormously inefficient building stock, and we can save huge amounts of energy costs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil by simple things like weatherization and changing the lighting in, in major buildings.
That's going to be part of our economic recovery plan. It actually allows us to spend some money, put some people to work right away, but it also creates a long-term, sustainable energy future. And I think making some of those investments in ensuring that we change our auto fleet over the next several years, that's going to be important as well. The other big financial storm that continues to build out there, of course, are mortgages.
You said recently that is an area of particular concern to you. The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke, said recently that something that--needs to be done urgently. During the course of the campaign, you suggested a three-month moratorium. Is that still part of the policy that you would like to have begun when you become president of the United States? And what else needs to be done to do something about mortgages?
Well, I, I'm having my team examine all the options that are out there. I'm disappointed that we haven't seen quicker movement on this issue by the administration. And we have said publicly and privately that we want to see a package that helps homeowners not just because it's good for that particular homeowner, it's good for the community. When you have foreclosures, property values decline and you get a downward spiral all across America.
It's also good for the financial system because keep in mind how this financial system became so precarious in the first place. You, you had a huge amount of debt, a huge amount of other people's money that was being lent, and speculation was taking place on--based on these home mortgages.
And if we can strengthen those assets, then that will strengthen the financial system as a whole. So I think a moratorium on foreclosures remains an important tool, an important option. I think we also should be working to figure out how we can get banks and homeowners to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages so that they are sustainable. The vast majority of people who are at threat of foreclosure are still making monthly payments, they want to stay in their homes, they want to stay in their communities, but the strains are enormous.
And if we can relieve some of that stress, long term it's going to be better for the banks, it's going to be certainly better for the community, it's going to be better for our economy as a whole. This is going to be a top priority of my administration.
Have you personally conveyed your disappointment to the administration or had your economic advisers get in touch with Hank Paulson and say, "Why aren't you doing more about mortgages?