STEVE KROFT: No one at the news conference yesterday asked you about the Tea Party. According to the exit polls, four out of ten voters on Tuesday said they supported the movement. How seriously do you take the Tea Party, and will it make the task of finding common ground with the Republican Party more difficult?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves. We have a long tradition in this country of a desire for limited government, the suspicion of the federal government, of a concern that government spends too much money. You know? I mean, that’s as American as apple pie. And although, you know, there’s a new label to this, I mean those sentiments are ones that a lot of people support and give voice to. Including a lot of Democrats. And so, the test is gonna be what happens over the next several years, when it’s not just an abstraction, but we have to start making serious choices. I’ve got a deficit commission that I’ve put forward that is gonna be releasing recommendations for how we can start reducing the deficit. And I don’t know yet what they’re gonna say, but I do know what the federal budget looks like. And if you eliminate all the earmarks. If you eliminate all the foreign aid. If you eliminate all the waste and abuse that people, you know, talk about eliminating — you’re still confronted with a fact that the vast majority of the federal budget are things that people really think are important. Like Social Security and Medicare and defense.
And so, you then have to start making some tough decisions about how do we pay for those things that we think are important? And you know, we’re not gonna be able to balance the budget just by slashing the National Parks budget, even if you didn’t think that was a proper function of government. We’re not gonna be able to balance the budget by, you know, eliminating the National Weather Service.
I mean, we’re gonna have to, you know, tackle some big issues like entitlements that, you know, when you listen to the Tea Party or you listen to Republican candidates they promise we’re not gonna touch.