Obama on socialist charge: ‘No, you’ve got to meet a real socialist’

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Republicans and Democrats actually are “fighting inside the 40-yard lines” on key issues, President Obama said Tuesday, and anyone who doubts that needs to visit other countries to get a look at real political and ideological divides.

American partisans often accuse the other party of being “socialists” (a Republican charge against Democrats) or “fascists” (the reverse), and Mr. Obama mocked the former at a meeting of top CEOs hosted by the Wall Street Journal in Washington.


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“People call me a socialist sometimes. But, no, you’ve got to meet real socialists. You’ll have a sense of what a socialist is,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m talking about lowering the corporate tax rate. My health-care reform is based on the private marketplace. The stock market is looking pretty good last time I checked.”

Mr. Obama, pitching his White House as business-friendly and focused above all on creating jobs and increasing economic growth, responded to a question about immigration reform by saying that Republicans and Democrats actually are not that far apart. He then evaluated the overall political landscape and dismissed the seeming gulf between his administration and congressional Republicans as minor disagreements compared to what’s seen in other parts of the world.

“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,” he said of immigration reform, before broadening his point.

“This, by the way, 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 lines,” he said.

For example, every European country has a major party that calls itself some variant of “socialist” or “social democrat” and which advocates, to at least some degree, public ownership of the means of production. France’s Francois Hollande, Britain’s Tony Blair and Germany’s Gerhard Schroeder are among the recent socialist-party leaders to have governed major powers.

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