In the last press conference of his first term, President Barack Obama this morning seemed to directly appeal to the female electorate, using terms like "deadbeat" to describe what would happen to the country should Congress not rate the debt ceiling. He also addressed concerns about the diversity of his cabinet appointments, touting the number of women he's appointed to high office, and talked gun control one month after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, saying he'd "vigorously pursue" a meaningful assault-weapons ban.
U.S. President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington D.C., Jan. 14, 2013. The United States is making progress in enhancing its fiscal sustainability in the past years as a result of government spending cuts and more government revenue, Obama said here on Monday. Image: © Zhang Jun/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com
On the debt ceiling, the president warned Republicans in Congress that refusing to raise the U.S. debt ceiling would trigger an economic disaster:
"Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. All it does is say that America will pay its bills. And we are not a deadbeat nation.And the consequences of us not paying our bills, as I outlined in my opening statement, would be disastrous. And the -- you know the -- the notion that Republicans in -- in the House, or maybe some Republicans in the Senate would suggest that in order for us to get our way on our spending priorities, that we would risk the full faith and credit of the United States, that I think is not what the founders intended. That’s now how I think most Americans think our democracy should work."
On criticism of his Cabinet appointments, the president said:
"I'm very proud that in the first four years, we had as diverse, if not a more diverse, a White House and a Cabinet than any in history. And I intended to continue that, because it turns out when you look for the very best people, given the incredible diversity of this country, you're going to end up with a diverse staff and a diverse -- a diverse team, and that very diversity helps to create more effective policymaking, and better decisionmaking for me, because it brings different perspectives to the table.
On gun control, President Obama said he'd review recommendations by the task force led by Vice President Joe Biden today, and provide his own specific recommendations later this week:
"Members of Congress are going to, I think, have a debate and examine their own conscience because if in fact -- and I believe this is true -- everybody across party lines was as moved and saddened as I was by what happened in Newtown, then we're going to have to vote based on what we think is best."
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