In his first press conference surrounding heated budget and debt ceiling talks in Congress, President Obama called for tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans while demonizing the oil and gas industry, accusing republicans of being unwilling to touch "sacred cows," but mentioned entitlement reform, (championed by Republican Paul Ryan) must be tackled to close the deficit. Obama said he has been leading on debt talks and that Congress needs to do their end of the job by making tough choices.
“If everybody else is willing to take on their sacred cows,” he said. “Then I think it would be hard for republicans to stand there and say a tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently so important that we aren’t willing to come to the table to get a job done.”
Obama said his administration is reviewing government regulations that hinder entrepreneurship, adding he is working with the private sector to spur job grown but slammed business owners as "wanting to do whatever they want to gain maximum profits."
"The business community is always complaining about regulations," he said.
On the issue of job growth, the President again tried to sell the idea that the government creates jobs.
"Congress could send me a bill right now that would put construction workers back on the job," he said.
Obama also claimed he has spent the past two years cutting taxes and that it is time for wealthy Americans, CEO's and the oil and gas industry to pay their fair share.
“As of last week, both parties had identified more than $1 trillion in spending cuts," he said. "We can’t get to the more than $4 trillion in deficit by cutting.”
“I think it’s only fair to ask an oil company or private jet owner, who have done so well, to give a little more.”
Obama also called for cuts to the defense budget and a look at the budget as a whole from Congress. He addressed the possibility of the debt ceiling deadline being extended yet again.
"We've given markers," he said. "For the first time in history the United States may not be able to pay our bills."
Obama laughed off the republican idea of paying off the interest on the U.S. debt as a way to avoid default rather than raising the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the same thing this morning.
"I'm the President of the United States not running off of scare tactics," he said.
Outside of the budget, Obama addressed Libya, the Afghanistan troop withdrawal, immigration reform, Operation Fast and Furious, the DREAM Act, same-sex marriage and the refusal of attorneys in his Justice Department to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act based on his belief the law is unconstitutional.
"I didn't use victory in my West Point speech either. What I said was we can be successful," he said when asked why the word victory was not used in his Afghanistan troop withdrawal speech last week. "It is in our national interest we do not have a collapse of Afghanistan."
Obama said gays should be "treated like all Americans."
Operation Fast and Furious
"The investigation is still pending and I'm not going to comment on a pending investigation"
"It wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on the investigation if it is not completed."