Obama: ‘I Won’
President Obama urged bipartisan cooperation in putting together a stimulus package — so long as it’s bipartisan in his direction. Charles Hurt for the NY Post:
“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
One White House official confirmed the comment but said he was simply trying to make a larger point about bipartisan efforts. “There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats,” the official said. “We shouldn’t let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.”
That wasn’t Obama’s only jab at Republicans today. In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal, the president shot back: “I won,” according to aides briefed on the meeting. “I will trump you on that.”
Jonathan Martin and Carol Lee confirm the comment for Politico.
President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning – but he also left no doubt about who’s in charge of these negotiations. “I won,” Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
Now, of course, he did win. Not only did he handily beat John McCain for the presidency but he increased his party’s margins in both the House and the Senate. And one can easily argue that he has a “mandate” on a major stimulus package given that this was one of the key issues — if not the key issue — by the time the presidential debates rolled around.
That said, he was elected president, not king — or even prime minister. He’s easily the most powerful figure in American politics but he’s just the head of one branch of government.
He doesn’t need Cantor’s help very much and is unlikely to get it. The House operates very much along party lines and Cantor is a fiscal conservative who’s not going to get sweet talked into a giant boondoggle whose main purpose is to “do something.” But, given that he desperately wants broad support for his stimulus package so as to spread the blame if things don’t go well, he’ll need to compromise and give Republicans some concessions.