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Obama: The Difference Between Democrats And Republicans Is "Not That Wide" Ideologically

BARACK OBAMA: In my conversations with Republicans, I actually think the divide is not that wide. So what we just have to do is find a pathway where Republicans in the House in particular feel comfortable enough about process that they can go ahead and meet us.

This, by the way, Gerry (sp), I think is a good example of something that’s been striking me about our politics for a while. When you go to other countries, the political divisions are so much more stark and wider; here in America, the difference between Democrats and Republicans — we’re fighting inside the 40-yard line, maybe –

SEIB: You fooled most people on that in the last few months, I’d say.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, but — but — (laughter) — well, no, no, the — I — I would — I would distinguish between the — the rhetoric and the tactics, versus the ideological differences.

I mean, in most countries, you’ve got — you know, people call me a socialist sometimes, but, no, you’ve got to me real socialists. You’ll have a sense of what a — what a socialist is. (Laughter.) You know, the — I mean, I’m talking about lowering the corporate tax rate. My health care reform is based on the private marketplace. Stock market’s looking pretty good last time I checked, and, you know, it is true that I’m concerned about growing inequality in our system, but nobody questions the efficacy of market economies in terms of producing wealth and innovation and keeping us competitive.

On the flip side, you know, most Republicans — even the Tea Party — one of my favorite signs during the campaign was folks hoisting a sign — governments, keep your hands off my Medicare. Think about that. (Laughter.) I mean, the — you know, ideologically, they did not like the idea of the federal government, and yet they felt very protective about the basic social safety net that had been structured.

So my simple point is this. If we can get beyond the tactical advantages that parties perceive in painting folks as extreme and trying to keep an eye always on the next election, and for awhile at least, just focus on governing, then there is probably 70 percent overlap on a whole range of issues. A lot of Republicans want to get infrastructure done just like I do.

A lot of them believe in basic research, just like I do. A lot of them want to reform entitlements to make sure that they’re affordable for the next generation; so do I. A lot of them say they want to reform our tax system; so do I. There are going to be differences on the details. And those details matter and I’ll fight very hard for them, but we shouldn’t think that somehow the reason we’ve got these problems is because our policy differences are so great.

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