Sunday, January 27, 2013

Obama says he has fired guns

President Obama says the rights of hunters have to be respected in the gun-control debate, and he himself has done some skeet shooting.

Some gun rights supporters may be surprised, but President Obama says he has fired guns.

"In fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time," Obama told The New Republic.

The White House did not provide a photo.

Obama told the magazine the rights of hunters and other gun owners have to be respected as he and his allies pursue a legislative package that includes new gun-control measures.

"I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations," Obama said. "And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake."

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups have vowed to block Obama proposals that include a revamped assault weapons ban, universal background checks and restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines. The administration developed the plan after the deaths of 20 children during a shooting Dec. 14 at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Responding to Obama's comments, NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox said in a statement, "The Second Amendment is not about shooting skeet, and it's not a tradition. It is a fundamental right upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court."

As the congressional debate moves forward, Obama told The New Republic that gun-control backers need to understand the different ways in which urban areas and rural areas view guns.

"If you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family's traditions, you can see why you'd be pretty protective of that," Obama said.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Obama: Senate deal 'the right thing to do for our country' on deficit

President Obama hailed the Senate’s ‘fiscal cliff’ legislation Tuesday as a model of bipartisan compromise ¬– and urged the House to pass the bill “without delay.”

In a statement after the Senate’s early morning vote, Obama said the bill would help “grow the economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way.”

The deal “protects 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small business owners from a middle class tax hike,” Obama said.

The legislation, negotiated by Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), was approved in an 89-8 vote just after 2 a.m.

The deal would extend the Bush-era income tax rates on individuals to $400,000 and family income up to $450,000. It permanently sets the estate tax rate at 40 percent, up from 35 percent, and exempts inheritances below $5 million. 

It would also postpone the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester for two months.

“While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country and the House should pass it without delay,” Obama said.

The president had campaigned for reelection on a pledge to raise income tax rates for all households earning above $250,000. But the bill’s $450,000 threshold marked a significant step in efforts to get "the wealthy to pay a little more," Obama said.

“Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut spending by more than $1 trillion.  [The fiscal cliff bill] does even more by asking millionaires and billionaires to begin to pay their fair share for the first time in twenty years,” Obama said. “As promised, that increase will be immediate, and it will be permanent.”

Obama had angered Republicans on Monday with a campaign-style event at the White House in which he drew cheers for his criticism of Congress’s failure to pass a broader ‘grand bargain’ on the deficit.

“There’s more work to do to reduce our deficits, and I’m willing to do it,” Obama said in his statement Tuesday morning. “But [this bill] ensures that, going forward, we will continue to reduce the deficit through a combination of new spending cuts and new revenues from the wealthiest.”