Are the sanctions against Russia really working? Based on the answer President Obama gave a reporter, it isn’t really clear. On radio this morning, Glenn, Pat, and Stu tried to make sense of some of Obama’s recent remarks as they compare to his past positions.
During a press conference on Wednesday, NBC News’ Chris Jansing asked the President a simple question: “Are sanctions [against Russia] not working?” Obama’s answer was not nearly as straightforward.
OBAMA: Well, we don't know yet whether sanctions are working. Sanctions are working as intended in putting enormous pressure and strain on the Russian economy.
While Pat and Stu could not make heads or tails of the apparent doublespeak, Glenn tried to better understand the President’s reasoning.
“So here's what he said: We don't know if sanctions are working in the grand scheme of things, but sanctions are working as they are intended to put great pressure on,” Glenn said. “But has he capitulated yet? No, we don't know if they are working in that way, but we know that they are working as intended to put great pressure on the economy… You don't just put them on and then they capitulate right away. We don't know the end result.”
Obama made another interesting comment this week during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. While discussing various initiatives aimed at strengthen U.S./African relations, the President made this plea to House Republicans.
OBAMA: I would be remiss if I did not add that House Republicans can help by reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. That is the right thing to do.
While running for President in 2008, however, President Obama had a slightly different opinion of the Export-Import Bank.
OBAMA: I'm not a Democrat that believes we can or should defend every government program just because it's there. There's some that don't work like we had hoped. The Bush Administration spent $1 billion a on a reading program that hasn't improved our children's reading. We should take that money and use it for things that work. There's some programs that have been duplicated by other programs, that we just need to cut back, like the Economic Development Agency and the Export-Import Bank that's become no more than a fund for corporate welfare.
“So it's a little more than a fund for corporate welfare, but the Republicans should reauthorize it back into existence because it's the right thing to do,” Pat said. “Can you explain that opposite?”
Glenn admitted this one was a bit more difficult to explain away.
“This is really challenging,” Glenn said. “[But] because I'm now in charge and the seas are beginning to recede, I have fixed the Import-Export bank, and it is no longer corrupt, no longer corporate welfare. Now it is important because I have arrived.”
While Glenn’s response may have been a bit sarcastic, Stu believes that is probably not too far from the President’s approach.
“He was in a campaign [when he made the original statement],” Stu said. “He may have completely forgotten he was critical of the Import-Export Bank – it’s just a thing he said on that day. Now the thing to say is, ‘I need it,’ so he's saying that. That's not specific to Obama by any mention.”
Ultimately, Stu found the archive clip to be particularly interesting because of the light it shines on how government waste is viewed.
“It's interesting to hear the older clips of him in that it just shines a great light on how the government works. As he is going through in 2008, he is discussing a reading program for $1 billion that he's saying is a waste of money,” Stu concluded. “What percentage of our government would stand, if we lived on that standard? Certainly less than half – if you need a measurable results from a program that you have.”