Nightly News | August 02, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now back to the cold reality of business. More on this debt ceiling deal, which is now the debt ceiling law. Chuck Todd , our chief White House correspondent, with us from there. Chuck , take it away.
CHUCK TODD reporting: Brian , look, it's a detente, more -- no more than that, and it capped off a really contentious debate. And despite this bipartisan support for the deal, it's a deal nobody wants to take credit for. President Obama today didn't praise the deal, only expressed relief.
President BARACK OBAMA: Our economy didn't need Washington to come along with a manufactured crisis to make things worse.
TODD: He called the $2.5 trillion deficit reduction package simply a first step and argued more must be done.
Pres. OBAMA: Yes, that means making some adjustments to protect health care programs like Medicare so they're there for future generations. It also means reforming our tax codes so that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations pay their fair share.
TODD: The bill he signed in private passed the Senate with a large bipartisan majority, but few expressed enthusiasm.
Senator CARL LEVIN (Democrat, Michigan): To say that the legislation before us is not ideal is truly an understatement.
Senator MITCH McCONNELL (Republican, Minority Leader): Now, this bill does not solve the problem. But it at least forces Washington to admit that it has one.
TODD: It remains unclear which government programs will be the biggest losers since it falls to a bipartisan super committee to identify $1.5 trillion of the cuts later this year. Familiar political posturing for that committee's task is already begun, with Republicans pledging not to appoint anyone open to tax hikes, and Democrats worried about Medicare and Social Security being targeted.
Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Majority Leader): I think that people going on the joint committee should be open to solving the debt problems of this country and not let ideology stand in the way.
TODD: This debate brought Washington to a screeching halt as Congress failed to act on a number of economic items, including extending long-term employment benefits; approving trade agreements with South Korea , Panama and Colombia ; and streamlining the patent process, a potential shot in the arm for small businesses.
Pres. OBAMA: Both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy.
TODD: And boy, did the White House send the signal they are ready to move on, confirming the president heads to Chicago for a fundraiser, his first one in a month. He -- it's a birthday fundraiser. And then they also used today to announce the president's 9/11 plans. It's the 10th anniversary. On that day, Brian , he plans to travel from the Pentagon to Shanksville , Pennsylvania , and then to ground zero.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was clear from his remarks today, he's trying to turn the page. Chuck Todd at the White House . Chuck , thanks.