Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, says he was encouraged by not "swayed" by President Obama earlier today. Obama met privately with Republicans in congress to try to gain G.O.P. support of his economic stimulus package.
"I wasn’t swayed by the president’s remarks, although I will say that the atmosphere in the room was as good as a bipartisan effort could be asked to be," King says. "The president’s demeanor was relaxed and congenial and ours was respectful and there was significant applause when he came in the room, of course, a standing ovation — he’s the president of the United States."
According to King, there weren’t a lot of specifics discussed — just a "general, broad outline" of the stimulus package. "For the most part, there wasn’t much common ground to be found," King says. "Although I will say that his discussion on opportunities to provide some relief for small business as part of the stimulator was the most encouraging component from my perspective."
King voted against the economic bailout which passed congress in September and provided billions to banks, insurance companies, even major car companies. King says it’s clear to him he and Obama have different views on the impact of Franklin Roosevelt’s actions during the Great Depression.
"I have drawn a lesson from the Great Depression that all of the spending that went in on F.D.R.’s New Deal, although it may have diminished the depths that we fell to in the Great Depression, it extended the needed time for recovery. President Obama has made it clear he drew a different lesson," King says. "His lesson was that F.D.R. lost his nerve on spending and was more concerned about spending too much when he should have been spending more and we had, according to President Obama, a recession within a depression that delayed the recovery would have come if F.D.R. would have been more bold on the New Deal."
King says he’s opposed to Obama’s "New New Deal" — as outlined in the economic stimulus package — and King calls Obama’s economic view "entirely wrong."
"I think the free market brings the solutions and I think we should suspend capital gains taxes right now, for at least two years, and then go to t he national sales tax at the end of this year, but we don’t agree," King says. "He’s in the White House and we’re going to get the best deal we can, with the leverage we have to work with."
King says Obama has been more open to Republicans than has Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat who controls the U.S. House. "The point that was made to President Obama that he really needed to hear was that even though he is open to this discussion and he made the trip over the capitol to meet with Republicans in a closed-door session — and I very much appreciate that — that has not been the case with Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, and the Democratic leadership. It has been clearly a shut out," King says. "And that shut out was something that was conveyed to President Obama very emphatically."
Obama met privately with Republican senators, too.