While speaking today at the House Republicans' retreat in Baltimore, President Obama explained something to his questioners I wasn't sure he actually understood until now: That he wasn't going to accept Republican bills or amendments that simply didn't work, just so he could claim bipartisanship.
Whew! It's about time.
He also said that he had, in fact, integrated many Republican ideas in the healthcare bill, and proceeded to list them. In fact, he did a great job. He was calm, engaging and evenhanded. And I don't even care if no Republican votes will change as a result - the rest of America saw it, live on TV and then on the news all night.
He was truly excellent.
And in perhaps his best moment, he called Republicans out on blaming him for the deficit:
THE PRESIDENT: Jeb, with all due respect, I've just got to take this last question as an example of how it's very hard to have the kind of bipartisan work that we're going to do, because the whole question was structured as a talking point for running a campaign.
Now, look, let's talk about the budget once again, because I'll go through it with you line by line. The fact of the matter is, is that when we came into office, the deficit was $1.3 trillion. -- $1.3 [trillion.] So when you say that suddenly I've got a monthly budget that is higher than the -- a monthly deficit that's higher than the annual deficit left by the Republicans, that's factually just not true, and you know it's not true.
And what is true is that we came in already with a $1.3 trillion deficit before I had passed any law. What is true is we came in with $8 trillion worth of debt over the next decade -- had nothing to do with anything that we had done. It had to do with the fact that in 2000 when there was a budget surplus of $200 billion, you had a Republican administration and a Republican Congress, and we had two tax cuts that weren't paid for.
You had a prescription drug plan -- the biggest entitlement plan, by the way, in several decades -- that was passed without it being paid for. You had two wars that were done through supplementals. And then you had $3 trillion projected because of the lost revenue of this recession. That's $8 trillion.
Now, we increased it by a trillion dollars because of the spending that we had to make on the stimulus. I am happy to have any independent fact-checker out there take a look at your presentation versus mine in terms of the accuracy of what I just said.