Obama: Americans Don’t Want ‘A Classic, Traditional, Big-Government Liberal’

By Terence P. Jeffrey | November 10, 2010 | 5:51 PM EST

President Barack Obama meeting with his staff and Cabinet members in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is at left, and Chief of Staff Pete Rouse is at center. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday that the American people do not want “a classic, traditional, big-government liberal,” suggesting Republicans had inaccurately depicted him as just such a creature in the national debate leading up to the Nov. 2 election.

Obama was responding to a question from CBS’s Steve Kroft, who asked him if the Democratic “defeat” in the midterm congressional election was a “reflection” on Obama’s leadership.

"I think that what happened over the course of two years was that we had to take a series of big emergency steps quickly, most of them in the first six months of my administration," said Obama. "Each of them had a big price tag. And people looked at that and they said, ‘Boy, this feels as if there’s a huge expansion of government.’”

When Kroft interjected that “it was a huge expansion of government,” Obama suggested that the growth in the federal government that had occurred during his watch could be blamed on emergency measures taken early in 2009 to deal with the economic situation at the time.

"What I didn’t effectively, I think, drive home,” said Obama, "is that we were taking these steps not because of some theory that we want to expand government. It was because we had an emergency situation and we want to make sure the economy didn’t go off a cliff. I think the Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that’s not something that the American people want.”

When Kroft challenged Obama on whether he was denying that voters were sending him a message that they wanted smaller government, Obama said, “No, no, no. I, I, there is no doubt that folks are concerned about debt and deficits. I think that is absolutely a priority. And by the way that’s a concern that I had before I was even sworn in.”

Since Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2010, the national debt has increased by more than $3 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury’s  Bureau of the Public Debt. That is more than all the debt that was accumulated by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, a division of the Obama White House, federal spending in fiscal 2010 was 25.4 percent of GDP, which is the greatest federal spending has been as a share of GDP since World War II. Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget proposal, according to OMB, would spend 25.1 percent GDP, which would make the first two fiscal years under budgets proposed by Obama the two highest spending years (as a share of GDP) in the last 65 years.

In the first month of his presidency, Obama signed a $787 billion economic stimulus law. It was not until the second year of his presidency, however, that Obama signed his landmark health-care reform law that mandates that every American buy a health insurance plan that meets federal-government specifications and that provides that all Americans earning less than 400 percent of the poverty level ($88,200 for a family of four) will be eligible for federal subsidies to buy health insurance.