Following Obama’s address to Congress, euronews spoke to ABC correspondent Emily Schmidt about the impact of the speech over in America.
euronews’ Laura Davidescu: “So, a call for unity on Capitol Hill, but will Congress respond in the way President Obama would like?
‘‘Some in Congress speak about a “new tone”, a “new speaker”, others go with “nothing new under the sun”. What’s the impression of the American mainstream media? Is there anything really new in this speech?”
ABC News’ Emily Schmidt: “The idea from the White House is new, three new words – “Winning the future”. That is the idea that President Obama touted as a way that he really thinks that both sides, Republicans and Democrats, can work together to try to strengthen the US economy. That’s the main theme, that is a new theme. However the concepts inside that theme are not new, things like investing in education, transportation, research…those are things that the president has talked about in the past.”
euronews: “This was President Obama’s first appearance before Congress since the midterm elections. Do you think this had an impact on what he had to say?”
ABC News’ Emily Schmidt: “I think without a doubt. After the midterm elections he came out very clearly and said he realised maybe he hadn’t done as good a job communicating with members of Congress as he should have done in the past, he vowed that he would change that. So when he talked last night, he really offered some olive branches, some things that some of the newly elected Republicans are looking for. He said he wanted to ban earmarks in the US, those are the things that are pet projects from lawmakers that might help them bring money home to their districts. He says if there is a bill with earmarks that comes across his desk he will veto it. That’s the sort of thing some of these newly elected, especially Republican, members of Congress are looking for.”
euronews: “Instead of speaking about cuts, President Obama stresses the need to invest in new dreams, in innovation. He calls this moment, quote “Our generation’s Sputnik moment”, speaking about the need to fund the “Apollo Projects” of our time.
‘‘What about the money needed to reach these ambitious goals? We already hear strong Republican voices saying that America is heading towards bankruptcy?”
ABC News’ Emily Schmidt: ‘‘That’s a really important point that you bring out. One of the words you said is “investment”, that is the word that the White House is going to home in on now. They are going to say: “This is not increased spending, this is an investment, this is money that has to be spent to really fortify the US position especially globally.” President Obama said: “Look the US needs to take responsibility for our deficit”, that was one of the things that was a direct quote, but he also said there are some things the US can’t afford to neglect. They need to make sure that American kids are in a good position with their education, that American workers are in a good position to not only get jobs here but that those jobs don’t go overseas. A lot of Republicans are not buying that idea at all, I want to read you something that Senator Jeff Sessions said, he said that the president didn’t rise to the occasion of the moment that we face right now. He said what we need are budget cuts and that the President simply didn’t go there. That is going to be a real topic of debate here as we move forward.”