A glance at Obama's news conference answers

June 29, 2011 - 2:14 PM

A glance at the topics President Barack Obama took questions on at a White House news conference Wednesday:

DEBT AND DEFICIT

Obama bluntly challenged Congress to "get it done" when it comes to negotiations on cutting government spending and raising the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit. Unless there is significant progress by the end of the week, Obama said he might keep Congress in Washington to work out a deal.

Obama said plan must be in place by Aug. 2. He also said any deficit reduction plan must include the elimination of selected tax breaks for oil companies and the super-wealthy.

Republicans in Congress insist deficit reduction must be limited to spending cuts.

PAYROLL TAX

Obama called on Congress to renew for another year the payroll tax cut that took effect on Jan. 1. He says that is one of several steps lawmakers can take quickly to help reduce the country's 9.1 percent unemployment.

The payroll tax cut Congress passed in December runs through 2011, and reduces the employee share of the tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for nearly every worker who earns wages. A worker making $50,000 in wages saves $1,000; a worker making $100,000 in wages saves $2,000.

GAY MARRIAGE

Obama said New York state's decision to legalize gay marriage was a "good thing" because people debated their views and came to a decision. But he stopped short of endorsing gay nuptials himself, saying instead that states and communities will come to their own conclusions.

The president, who supports civil unions, has said his views on gay marriage are "evolving." He said Wednesday he had no update on where his personal position stood.

AFGHANISTAN

Obama said the U.S. can be successful in Afghanistan, but he is not ready to declare victory there just yet. Obama said the U.S. mission is narrowly focused on making sure al-Qaida cannot attack the U.S. and helping Afghans maintain their own security, and he believes the military can succeed in those objectives.

The president said Tuesday's deadly attack on a western-style hotel in Kabul does not affect his plans to start bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan next month. But Obama said the attack is a sign that Afghanistan is still a dangerous place, and the Taliban is still active.

LIBYA

Obama said U.S. military involvement in Libya does not violate a law requiring congressional approval for military action, and that a lot of the "fuss" from some in Congress is political.

The White House has said Obama has the legal authority to keep the military involved without a go-ahead from Congress because the U.S. is playing only a support role in the effort to stop Moammar Gadhafi from attacking civilians. The president said Wednesday that Gadhafi is one of the worst tyrants in the world and a person that no one should want to defend.