President Obama gave a pep talk to House Democrats at their retreat in Maryland this morning, saying he was “grateful” for Nancy Pelosi’s team and “looking forward to making sure that this year we keep on making progress, even if we continue to get a little resistance from the other side.”
“Part of what I’d like to think makes us Democrats is not simply some abstract ideological set of beliefs, but the fact that we’re reminded every single day that we’re here to help a whole bunch of folks out there, our neighbors, our friends, our communities, who are struggling still and need our help,” Obama said. “And they’re counting on us. The good thing is they’ve got some outstanding members of Congress who are willing to fight for them regardless of the political cost, starting with your leader, Nancy Pelosi.”
The president didn’t drop any policy bombshells, though he said he wanted to be the first to wish Pelosi a happy Valentine’s Day.
“We laid out some very specific ways that we can move the country forward, breaking them down into a few categories. Number one, creating more good jobs that pay good wages. Number two, making sure that folks are trained to fill those good jobs. Number three, making sure that our kids have the best education in the world,” Obama said. “And, number four, making sure that hard work pays off, that people aren’t poor if they’re working full time, that they have some semblance of retirement security, that they can count on health care if, heaven forbid, something happens to them.”
“And already, just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve put forward a range of executive actions that are gonna make a difference,” he added, referencing his order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers and establishment of the MyRA retirement account program.
“But, as I said at the State of the Union, and I want to repeat today, we can get a whole lot more done if we’ve got Congress working with us. And this caucus has shown time and time again, under the most difficult circumstances, the kind of courage and unity and discipline that has made me very, very proud,” Obama continued.
“And, look, everybody here is an elected official and we can all appreciate the maneuverings that take place, particularly in an election year,” he added. “But when it comes to immigration reform, we have to remind ourselves that there are people behind the statistics, that there are lives that are being impacted, that punting and putting things off for another year, another two years, another three years, it hurts people. It hurts our economy. It hurts families.”
Reporters were ushered out of the room before Obama took questions from the caucus.