March 11, 2009 / Brooklyn news / Politics / Bay Ridge / McMahon on Line 1

From People’s House to White House: Ridge Rep. gets first visit with Obama

The Brooklyn Paper

They served nothing but tap water, and he didn’t get to ask his prepared questions, but freshman Rep. Mike McMahon enjoyed his first official visit to the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

McMahon met with President Obama in the ceremonial East Room — along with the 60 or so fellow members of the centrist New Democratic Caucus — to discuss the president’s budget plan.

“I went away very impressed with his presentation and the presentations by his staff,” McMahon told The Brooklyn Paper as part of his weekly “McMahon on Line 1” call.

“The president described himself as a New Democrat and said his goal was to grow the economy and small businesses in the short term, yet tackle the deficit in the longer term,” McMahon said.

The congressman, who took office in January and has already been named the whip of the freshman Democrats and submitted his first bill, brought readers of The Brooklyn Paper into the room for the 3:30 pm meeting with the president.

“First of all, it’s such a great thrill to enter the White House from the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue entrance,” he said. “And the East Room, I know from taking a White House tour once, is where Teddy Roosevelt’s kids used to ride ponies.

“We were all seated at a large square table,” McMahon added. “The president came in, we all stood up, and he sat down with [top adviser] David Axelrod, [Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel, [economic adviser] Larry Summers and [legislative affairs director] Phil Shiliro.

“The president’s presentation was thoughtful and very knowledgeable about the facts — more so than his staff, even,” McMahon continued. “But he also has a great, respectful humor with his staff. Summers looked very tired and the president noted it and said he’s been working hard these last few weeks, and everyone laughed.”

The first-term congressman said he hasn’t found reason to oppose the president so far.

“He really is governing from the center,” McMahon said.

Then again, McMahon did have two pointed questions ready for the president, though he didn’t get the chance.

“I wanted to ask him two things related to New York: the first was that commercial real estate market is the next shoe to drop, so I wanted to know what they will they do. And second, I wanted to remind the president that even though there have been bad actors in the financial markets, it remains a positive industry for New York and we need to solve the problems without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

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