Wonder what were the most interesting things President Obama said in his interview with ABC News' George Stephanopolous Wednesday morning? Here are the highlights:
1. Obama does not see a constitutional justification for banning gay marriage.
"I can’t, personally. I cannot," the president told Stephanopolous. "My hope is that – the Court looks at the evidence and – and in the California case, for example, the only reason presented for treating gays and lesbians differently was, “Well, they’re gay and lesbian.” There wasn’t – a real rationale beyond that. In fact – you know, all the other – rights and – and – responsibilities of – a civil union were identical to marriage."
"It’s just you couldn’t call it marriage," Obama continued. "Well, at that point, what you’re really sayin’ is – 'We’re just gonna treat these folks differently because of who they are.' And – and I do not think – that’s – that’s who [we] are as Americans. And – and frankly, I think – American attitudes have evolved, just like mine have – pretty substantially and fairly quickly, and I think that’s a good thing."
2. The president doesn't see balancing the budget as an end in itself.
"And, so – you know, my goal is not to chase – a balanced budget just for the sake of balance," he said in the interview. "My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work, and if we do that we’re gonna be bringin’ in more revenue. If we’ve controlled spending and we’ve got a smart entitlement package, then potentially what you have is balance. But it’s not balance on the backs of, you know, the poor, the elderly, students who need student loans, families who’ve got disabled kids."
3. Obama said the White House did not make the decision to cancel tours in light of the sequester (though technically, it did, according to today's briefing by White House spokesman Jay Carney).
Now, I have to say this was not – a decision that went up to the White House," the president said. "But the – what the Secret Service explained to us was that they’re gonna have to furlough some folks. What furloughs mean is – is that people lose a day of work and a day of pay ... And, you know, the question for them is, you know, how deeply do they have to furlough their staff and is it worth it to make sure that we’ve got White House tours. That means that you got a whole bunch of families who are depending on a paycheck who suddenly are seein’...– a 5 percent or 10 percent reduction in their pay."
Now, here's what Jay Carney said Wednesday afternoon on the question of the decisionmaking process on the tours:
"The Secret Service came to us with a decision that because of the sequester cuts, it would be in their view impossible to staff those tours, that they would have to withdraw staff from those tours in order to avoid more furloughs and overtime pay cuts," Carney told reporters. "It was our job, then, to cancel the tours. The Secret Service cannot because we -- those are White House tours. So that is what the president was referring to."
Is that clear, everyone?