POLITICS

Obama Defends Ambitious Agenda In Pre-Super Bowl Interview

02/01/2015 05:56 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2015
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Sunday defended the ambitious agenda he laid out in his State of the Union address in January, during an interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie ahead of Super Bowl XLIX.

Asked whether he thought he had acted "cocky" during the State of the Union given that Democrats lost badly in the November elections, Obama defended himself, saying "nobody was doing an end-zone dance."

"What we were talking about was the success America's had in digging itself out of a really tough recession, and that's a celebration of the American people," he said. "That's not about politics."

The president also pushed back on Guthrie's suggestion that he should have been more conciliatory towards Republicans.

"Republicans believe that we should be rebuilding our infrastructure. The question is how do we pay for it? That's a negotiation we should have," Obama said. "My job is to present the right ideas, and if Republicans think they've got a better set of ideas, they should present them."

"But my job is not to trim my sails and not tell the American people what we should be doing," he added.

Obama said that clearly communicating his policies and goals -- something he has been criticized for failing to do in the past -- would help him in the final years of his presidency.

"One of the things I've learned over the last six years is that when I tell the American people what direction I think the country should go in, sometimes people change their minds, and even Republicans occasionally start agreeing with me, although sometimes a little bit later than I would like," he said.

That hope for reconciliation will be put to the test on Monday, when Obama is set to unveil his budget for the next fiscal year. The proposal will reportedly include a new tax on corporate wealth amassed overseas as a way to pay for infrastructure upgrades. The budget is also set to commit $200 billion to improving child care in the United States.

Obama said that in the last two years of his presidency, he would like to make sure that all Americans benefit from a growing economy.

"I just want to make sure that in two years when we look back, we'll say not only did we recover from that crisis, we've built the foundation to make sure that America benefits for generations to come," he told Guthrie.

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