* Obama says has met 70 percent of his campaign promises
* Surprised by Wall St. impression he is anti-business
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON, Sept 28 U.S. President Barack Obama
said in an interview published on Tuesday that it is
"inexcusable" for Democratic voters to stand on the sidelines
in Nov. 2 congressional elections and urged them to shake off
Facing a bleak election outcome in congressional elections
on Nov. 2, Obama said Democrats who are not satisfied with what
he has been able to accomplish so far need to realize that
giving Republicans increased power could bring back economic
policies he believes have been discredited.
"The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the
Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands
complaining, is just irresponsible," Obama told Rolling Stone
magazine. "We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need
to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up."
Obama and his Democrats face an angry electorate with the
U.S. jobless rate at a stubbornly high 9.6 percent. Republicans
are far more enthusiastic about voting on Nov. 2 and believe
they may be able to take control of the U.S. House of
Representatives from Democrats and make gains in the Senate.
Democrats, on the other hand, are struggling to persuade
their liberal base of supporters to get fired up. Many liberals
do not believe Obama has gone far enough in pursuit of their
agenda, complaining for example that the healthcare overhaul
did not include a government-based insurance option.
Obama's decision to grant an interview of more than an hour
to the hip magazine Rolling Stone reflected a bid to energize
young voters who helped propel him to the presidency two years
ago, an effort that includes a trip to college campuses this
Obama revealed that he has about 2,000 songs on his iPod,
many of them the music of his youth, such as Stevie Wonder and
Bob Dylan. Personal aide Reggie Love helped him update his
music list with some rap performers.
"Thanks to Reggie, my rap palate has greatly improved.
Jay-Z used to be sort of what predominated, but now I've got a
little Nas and a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff," he
CAMPAIGN PROMISES KEPT
But much of the interview was about serious subjects and
what seemed to be an effort to shore up support from the
Democrats' liberal base.
Obama said he has a list to keep track of campaign promises
he has fulfilled.
"I keep in my pocket a checklist of the promises I made
during the campaign, and here I am, halfway through my first
term, and we've probably accomplished 70 percent of the things
that we said we were going to do," he said.
Obama defended his economic team against criticism from the
left that the financial regulatory overhaul Democrats pushed
through Congress was not tough enough on Wall Street.
"Is it going to solve every potential problem in Wall
Street in a multi-trillion-dollar, worldwide, capital market?
Probably not. There could end up being new schemes, new
loopholes that folks are going to try to exploit," he said.
The president said he had been surprised by some complaints
from Wall Street that he has been anti-business. He said Wall
Street executives should have to pay their fair share of taxes
like everyone else.
"I know a lot of these guys who started hedge funds. They
are making large profits, taking home large incomes, but
because of a rule called 'carried interest,' they are paying
lower tax rates than their secretaries," he said.
Obama expressed suspicion about the funding of the
conservative Tea Party movement, saying it is being bankrolled
by "very conservative industries and forces that are opposed to
enforcement of environmental laws."
And he said he believes the Fox News Channel expresses a
point of view that, "I think is ultimately destructive for the
long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle-class
and is competitive in the world."
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Stacey