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Thursday, 30 June 2011

POTUS in Philly

David L. Cohen, POTUS' Philly Pfriend

Everyone into the Pool
Obama Schmoozes
with Comcast Cohens

By Peter Nicholas
[Special to Writers Clearinghouse News Service]
Tying up a loose end from last pool report: the hecklers at the Hyatt at the Bellevue event were waving signs that read: “Obama: AIDS Drugs 4 6 Million People Worldwide.’’

Motorcade wound through tree-lined streets in Germantown en route to the fund-raising event hosted by Comcast executive (and former Ed Rendell mayoral aide) David L. Cohen and his wife, Rhonda.

We arrived at the Cohens’ Mt. Airy home at 6:17 p.m. Pool held in a basement room with a movie screen, juke box and reclining leather chairs outfitted with drink-holders.

Hanging on one wall was a framed, enlarged cover of Buzz Bissinger’s book, “A Prayer for the City’’ – a fly-on-the-wall account of Rendell and Cohen’s efforts to stave off financial collapse in Philadelphia in the early 1990s.

Those of you who’ve written about David L. over the years might be interesting in hearing that his video collection includes a heavy dose of action and adventure films: “Die Hard 2,’’ “Speed,’’ “Titanic,’’ etc.

Pool was later escorted to a large backyard tent for Potus’s remarks. About 120 people were in attendance, arranged in tables of 10. Guests included Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. A DNC source says that ticket prices started at $10,000, with the proceeds going to the Democratic Victory Fund. Dinner was the work of restaurateur Stephen Starr.

Potus began speaking at 7:34 p.m., following introductions by the Cohens and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

You should be getting a transcript at some point but I’ll include some highlights:

He mentioned the deficit reduction debate. “Some of you know that I had a press conference yesterday that attracted a little bit of attention,’’ he said. “And I’ll probably have to have a few more before we get this issue resolved. This is not just a number’s debate. This is a values debate.’’

He said there is general agreement that the deficit needs to be cut by $4 trillion over a 10-to-12 year time frame.

“The question is how do we do it,’’ he said. “And what I’ve said is that we can come up with $2 trillion worth of cuts – cuts to domestic discretionary spending, which includes cuts of some things that I think are worthy and I’d like to do but we can’t afford to do right now. Cuts to defense spending, where we have an obligation to make sure that our troops have the best equipment and we continue to have the finest fighting force in the world. But let’s face it, the Pentagon has waste too. We’ve already identified $400 billion worth of waste. We can identify at least the equivalent to make sure that we’re also maintaining economic security here at home.

“But we’re going to have to also, if we want to achieve this goal, make sure that we do two tough things that frankly neither party wants to do but have to be done. The first is we’re going to have to make sure we continue to focus on how do we reduce Medicare and Medicaid costs. And the second is, we’re going to have to have more revenue.

“What I’ve said to the Republican Party and what I’ve said to the Democratic Party in Congress is there’s a way to do this that makes sure that we still maintain our sacred commitment to our seniors so that they have the security they need in retirement. And there’s a way to do it that makes sure that businesses are not overburdened and that success is still rewarded in our society. We can make changes that are balanced and that involve some shared sacrifice but assure that we’re still making the investments we need to win the future, and make sure we’re not mortgaging our future because of irresponsible fiscal practices.

“And the question is going to be, do we have a politics that’s up to the task. This is not a technical problem. A lot of folks have been talking about, ‘Well, we need to bring all the parties together and sort of hammer it out.’The truth is you could figure out on the back of a napkin how to get this thing done. The question is one of political will.’’

We were ushered out at the point where potus began the Q&A.

At 8:31 p.m., the motorcade is rolling from the Cohen home.

(Peter Nicholas, a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, filed this pool report earlier this evening).