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House GOP Q&A With Obama

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Lankford was one of seven members who had a chance to question the president at his meeting with the House Republican Conference on Wednesday.

•Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, the fourth questioner, use the opportunity to make a point about why Republicans want to enact comprehensive tax reform rather than use the closure of individual “loopholes” as bargaining chips in spending showdowns with Obama. “I just said, ‘We don’t want a piecemeal tax reform because then you don’t get the economic growth, job creation and increased wages and benefits that we want to see,’” the Ways and Means chairman recalled, adding that it was a “good exchange.” “He certainly listened and I think the point was made,” Camp said.

•The fifth questioner, Rep. Jackie Walorski, asked why Obama didn’t think the federal government needed to balance its budget the way everyday families need to. “In the state of Indiana where I’m from, Hoosiers sit around the kitchen tables and they have to make their budgets work. ... They have to make tough decisions. ... That’s why we need to have a balanced budget,” she told reporters afterward, summarizing her point. Obama disagreed, telling her “The country’s not a family,” according to a source in the room.

•Rep. Peter Roskam, the sixth questioner, asked the president a more abstract question about whether the troubles plaguing their mutual home state of Illinois show the failure of liberalism in action. Roskam “referred back to Illinois and the difficulties that Illinois is having, the collapse of the pension, [and other] problems. And he said, you know, Illinois is run by Democrats and this is a kind of Democratic template. It’s failing in Illinois, why should we want to keep doing that here?” Fleming recounted. “And [Obama’s] response, he sort of distanced himself from that, like what we do up here has nothing to do with out there.”

•Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, the final questioner, engaged in an exchange with Obama about whether Republicans can trust him, alluding to a recent National Journal report that quoted an anonymous White House official calling Obama’s outreach to Republicans a “joke.” Price also pressed Obama on when he would be issuing his budget, which is expected to be released two months beyond its statutory deadline. Price said he thought the White House was holding its budget up on purpose in order to launch political attacks. He noted that the law requires the president to go first in issuing a budget blueprint and he said that’s not a good sign for increasing the trust between the two parties. Obama said Republicans could expect the budget in a few weeks.

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