King discusses GOP meeting with Obama

Congressman Steve King, a Republican from the small northwest Iowa town of Kiron, called into the Raido Iowa newsroom this afternoon to offer his account of the private meeting President Obama had this morning with Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The transcript of King's remarks are below.

Henderson: "Were you swayed by the president's remarks?"

King: "No, I wasn't swayed by the president's remarks, although I will say that the atmosphere in the room was as good as a bipartisan effort could be asked to be. The president's demeanor was relaxed and congenial and ours was respectful and there was significant applause when he came in the room, of course, a standing ovation — he's the president of the United States.  We opened with a prayer and the pledge.  He pariticpated in a fine fashion and then we got down to the nuts and bolts; not specifics necessarily, but the general, broad outlines and for the most part there wasn't much common ground to be found, although I must say that his discussion on opportunities to provide some relief for small business as part of the stimulator was the most encouraging component from my perspective." 

Henderson: "From my perspective in Des Moines, it doesn't appear to me that there would be any amount of concessions he could make — you're against this level of government involvement in the economy, aren't you?"

King: "It comes down to this and it became clear to me in these discussions — I have drawn a lesson from the Great Depression that all of the spending that went in on F.D.R.'s New Deal, although it may have diminished the depths that we fell to in the Great Depression, it extended the needed time for recovery.  President Obama has made it clear he drew a different lesson. His lesson was that F.D.R. lost his nerve on spending and was more concerned about spending too much when he should have been spending more and we had, according to President Obama, a recession within a depression that delayed the recovery that would have come if F.D.R. would have been more bold on the New Deal, so as I've described the New New Deal as being a bigger government spending program than the old New Deal, I think that's clear and we drew different lessons from that.  I think he's entirely wrong. I think the free market brings the solutions and I think we should suspend capital gains taxes right now, for at least two years, and then go to the national sales tax at the end of this year, but we don't agree. He's in the White House and we're going to get the best deal we can, with the leverage we have to work with."

I asked another question, and in the midst of his answer King mentioned what has been mentioned elsewhere today, that Republicans took their grievances about the way Pelosi & Co. are treating them to Obama.

King: "The point that was made to President Obama that he really needed to hear was that even though he is open to this discussion and he made the trip over the capitol to meet with Republicans in a closed-door session — and I very much appreciate that — that has not been the case with Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, and the Democratic leadership.  It has been clearly a shut out and that shut out was something that was conveyed to President Obama very emphatically by a number of the members, including our membership, and he didn't seem to be aware of that because it was in direct contradiction to a statement that he used to open the meeting, so to that extent I think he's going to be asking for open dialogue between the speaker and the Republicans in the House of Representatives."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.