Here's a live video feed from the White House of President Barack Obama's announcement that he's named Vice President Joe Biden to lead the White House group tasked with developing a policy response to prevent future mass shootings like Friday's tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
8:52 AM PT: Obviously, things are running a bit behind schedule as happens from time to time. Based on earlier reporting, the president's remarks will focus on the process going forward. I suspect he might actually go beyond the clerical aspect of process, however, and frame the importance and urgency of the task he's assigned Biden to lead.
9:00 AM PT: Flurry of tweets indicates the two minute warning has been given, about a minute ago.
9:01 AM PT: President Obama is at the podium with Vice President Biden standing at his side. And it is indeed being carried nationally on broadcast networks.
9:02 AM PT: President Obama says we have a "deep obligation" to reduce "gun violence"—not just mass shootings.
9:03 AM PT: "This time, the words need to lead to action." The president says he understands it's not all about gun control: it's also about access to mental health and dealing with the glorification of violence in our culture. But the complexity of the issues doesn't justify doing nothing, he says.
9:04 AM PT: He says he wants the proposals from Biden to come by next month, and that he will push for them right away. "This is a team that has a specific task which is to pull together reforms right now."
9:05 AM PT: "A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military style assault weapons ... and high capacity ammunication clips ... and background checks before all gun purchases. [...] I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner."
9:07 AM PT: So President Obama is making more news here than initially advertised. He's embraced three specific gun control measures as a starting point. He's also said that Biden's mission shouldn't be limited to mass shootings—it's about gun violence overall. And he wants Biden's report to come by January, narrowing the window within which he will begin calling for additional action.
9:08 AM PT: Obama is now listing examples of "the every day gun violence that takes the lives of more than ten thousand Americans every year—violence that we cannot accept as routine."
9:08 AM PT: "It won't be easy, but that cannot be an excuse not to try."
9:09 AM PT: Obama will have the bully pulpit in a big way in the beginning of the year with the inaugural address and state of the union.
9:10 AM PT: Now Obama is taking questions—first is about the fiscal cliff and whether he's betrayed voters by changing positions on key elements of his campaign platform.
9:11 AM PT: Obama defends himself as being willing to "do some very tough things" to achieve a compromise and having said he would do so during the campaign.
9:11 AM PT: "I have gone at least halfway in meeting some of the Republican concerns." True enough, Mr. President. But where's the deal?
9:12 AM PT: Basically, President Obama is just complaining about Republicans not taking his deal. "The fact that they haven't taken it yet is puzzling," he says.
9:14 AM PT: Obama says the difference between his position and Boehner's position on taxes is merely a few hundred billion dollars and that it would be irresponsible to not get a deal done. People want compromise, Obama says. "For some reason that message has not yet taken up upon Capitol Hill," Obama says, again whining about Congressional Republicans refusing to compromise.
9:17 AM PT: "If you look at the package I put forward, it is a balanced package by any definition. By any measure, by any traditional calculation, by measures Republicans have used in the past, this would be as large a piece of deficit reduction as we've seen in the last twenty years."
9:18 AM PT: Obama says Boehner's backup tax plan "doesn't make much sense."
9:18 AM PT: "We've put forward a very balanced plan and it's time for us to go ahead and get it done."
9:20 AM PT: On what is the next move: "I'm going to reach out to all of the leaders involved and find out what is holding this thing up. [...] If the argument from Republicans is that we don't have enough spending cuts, then that argument is not going to fly [...] If the argument is (about taxes) then that's not a very persuasive argument." Reading tea leaves there, suggests that Obama might move on taxes, but not on spending.
9:22 AM PT: He says his bottom line is that middle-class families would bear more of the burden than wealthy. "There's a threshold that you reach where the balance tips [...] where you are hurting people in order to give another advantage to people who don't need help." But there's a fair amount of squishiness about that threshold. "Take the deal," he says to Republicans. "Take the deal." It's a win for them, he says. "It is very hard for them to say yes to me. At some point they need to take me out of it and think about their voters and what's best for the country."
9:25 AM PT: Obama says the numbers are close. He also says he's met them at least halfway. So the question is: how much further than halfway is he willing to go? Or is he done compromising? And he's not really answering directly, but the implication is that he'll move.
9:30 AM PT: Obama says he won't negotiate around the debt ceiling. Of course, he's doing exactly that. Initially demanding a removal of the debt ceiling, then proposing a two year debt ceiling, and now negotiating between a one and two year extension.
9:33 AM PT: A question about Newtown, asking why the Biden commission will be different than past commissions. Obama points out: this isn't a commission. Biden's task is more urgent, and focused. "Sift through every good idea that's out there ... and come up with a concrete set of recommendations in about a month."
9:33 AM PT: "As soon as we got those recommendations, I will be putting forward a very specific set of proposals. I will be talking about them in the State of the Union and I will be talking with interested members of Congress to get them done."
9:35 AM PT: Obama says he hopes that members of the NRA will support Biden's group. Gun safety will just be part of their focus, he says. It will also include mental health and other issues.
9:38 AM PT: Jake Tapper asks Obama "where have you been" on gun violence up to this point, suggesting he was making a political decision to avoid taking on the gun issue. Obama says he's been busy being president, and that he's confident Biden will take the issue seriously.