In a candid interview with The Des Moines Register, President Obama debunked one of Mitt Romney’s favorite talking points that Obama had a supermajority in Congress for two years.
Mitt Romney is fond of saying on the campaign trail, “Remember that he had a supermajority in both the House and the Senate in his own party for his first two years.”
Romney’s statement is absolutely false, and Obama throughly debunked it in an interview with The Des Moines Register.
Here is the transcript from The Des Moines Register,
Q: Yes, that begs a question from us, Mr. President. Some say you had a super majority in your first two years and had this incredible opportunity, but because of what you were talking about, as you were running, you had to go to get Obamacare done. Do you have any regrets taking on some of the economic issues, some of the issues that we’re talking about for your second term, that when you had the chance, so to speak, during your first — do you have any regrets that you didn’t do that at that time?
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely not, Laura. Remember the context. First of all, Mitch McConnell has imposed an ironclad filibuster from the first day I was in office. And that’s not speculation. I mean, this is — it’s amply recorded. He gave a speech saying, my task is to defeat the President.
So we were able to pass emergency action with the stimulus, but we had to get two votes from Republicans. One of them essentially was driven out of the party — Arlen Specter, who recently passed away. We then — because Al Franken hadn’t been seated, didn’t have 60 votes until essentially — there was a four- or five-month span. But at that point, we had already put in place the Recovery Act. We had already moved forward to help states avoid teacher layoffs and so forth.
And we were already in the process of stabilizing the banks. We had already engineered the process that would save the auto industry. And there was not going to be any appetite among Democrats or Republicans to take additional actions until we saw the progress that was making — that needed to be made.
And our health care system is one-sixth of our economy. And if we have a situation where spending on health care at every level is going up at 6, 7, 10 percent a year, and we’ve got millions of people without coverage or inadequate coverage, the suggestion that that’s not a central economic priority for the country is just something that I wouldn’t buy.
And the suggestion somehow that if we hadn’t pursued Obamacare, somehow we would have gotten additional stimulus out of the Republicans, for example, that we could have primed the pump more, that’s just not borne out by any of the evidence.
In fact, the first stimulus, when we were contracting at 8 percent a quarter, as I was on my way up — a month after I’d been elected, or two months after I’d been elected — as I was on my way up to meet the House Republicans to share with them my ideas about how we should pass this Recovery Act, they already said they’d vote against it.
Now, it was a political strategy that won them back the House, but it wasn’t good for the country. And I think the country recognizes that. So what I want to do — now we’re in a different position, and I genuinely believe that one of the best things we can do for the economy is to settle this issue of government spending, entitlements, and revenues so that we can provide the kind of certainty that I think businesses and individuals are looking for.
Because Republicans contested the election of Al Franken, when Obama was sworn into office there were 58 Democrats. A supermajority is composed of 2/3 the Senate, and since 60 voters are required to overcome the filibuster rules, Obama didn’t even have the basic majority that he needed in order to pass legislation when he took office.
This timeline from The War Room with Jennifer Granholm illustrates why Obama only had 60 Democratic votes for a brief period during his first year in office:
When Republicans, like Mitt Romney, say that Obama had a supermajority in Congress for two years, they are lying. It was nice to see President Obama confront this insidious falsehood that is designed to achieve nothing other than make him appear ineffective head on.
The idea that Obama had a two year supermajority is a lie wrapped around a Republican delusion.
Just like there are no numbers in Mitt Romney’s tax plan, and there is not a Republican jobs bill that isn’t a tax cut in disguise, Barack Obama never had a two year supermajority in Congress.
Obama never had a two year supermajority.
The President never had a one year supermajority.
There was never a supermajority for Obama.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association