The Washington Post

Obama says he has a year to get stuff done

President Obama said Wednesday he’s eager to move quickly to enact his second-term agenda, acknowledging that he has a severely limited time frame before the political world begins thinking about the next election cycle in 2014 and beyond.

Obama told a San Francisco television station that he wants to “get as much stuff done as quickly as possible.”

“Once we get through this year, then people start looking at the mid-terms and after that start thinking about the presidential election,” Obama said during a brief interview with KGO, an ABC affiliate. “The American people don’t want us thinking about elections, they want us to do some work. America is poised to grow in 2013 and add a lot of jobs as long as Washington doesn’t get in the way.”

Obama’s remarks were an acknowledgement that a second-term president’s ability to use his political capital faces rapidly diminishing returns, highlighting the high stakes of his bids to strike deals with Congress on issues from tax reform, budget cuts, immigration reform and gun control.

The president conducted a series of interviews at the White House with eight local television affiliates from across the country, as part of his ongoing effort to push his economic agenda in the face of heated Republican opposition. Obama did similar interviews during the campaign, bypassing the national press corps to take his message directly to targeted constituents. Although he focused on swing states during the campaign, his interviews on Wednesday were in states that are traditionally Democratic or Republican leaning.

In the interviews, Obama touted his approach to stave off the automatic spending cuts that will take effect in March, saying Congress should support his proposal to raise more tax revenues by closing tax loopholes for higher-income earners.

For example, the president has called for an end to tax breaks for corporate jet owners. But a reporter from Wichita’s KAKE, an ABC affiliate, challenged Obama, saying that her city has tens of thousands of middle-class workers who depend on the corporate aviation industry to earn a living. Those workers fear that an end to the tax breaks would result in job losses, the reporter said.

But Obama said the jet owners don’t need the tax breaks.

“That’s not the reason they buy corporate jets, I promise you,” Obama said. “I haven’t gone through an airport in a long time. And the reason people buy corporate jets is it’s extremely convenient and they can afford it. And they don’t need an extra tax break, especially at a time when we’re trying to reduce the deficit. Something’s got to give.”

Not everything was so weighty a topic. Obama also was asked about his recent golf outing with Tiger Woods.

“He plays a different game than I do. He’s on another planet,” Obama said. “He knew I wasn’t a big threat to his world ranking and I knew I’d better keep my day job.”

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.



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