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Obama Opens News Conference with Economy Remarks

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President Obama tonight opened his first prime-time news conference with remarks on the economy. His remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

Good evening. Before I take your questions tonight, I'd like to speak briefly about the state of our economy and why I believe we need to put this recovery plan in motion as soon as possible.

I took a trip to Elkhart, Indiana today. Elkhart is a place that has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in America. In one year, the unemployment rate went from 4.7% to 15.3%. Companies that have sustained this community for years are shedding jobs at an alarming speed, and the people who've lost them have no idea what to do or who to turn to. They can't pay their bills and they've stopped spending money. And because they've stopped spending money, more businesses have been forced to lay off more workers. Local TV stations have started running public service announcements that tell people where to find food banks, even as the food banks don't have enough to meet the demand.

As we speak, similar scenes are playing out in cities and towns across the country. Last Monday, more than 1,000 men and women stood in line for 35 firefighter jobs in Miami. Last month, our economy lost 598,000 jobs, which is nearly the equivalent of losing every single job in the state of Maine. And if there's anyone out there who still doesn't believe this constitutes a full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been turned upside down because they don't know where their next paycheck is coming from.

That is why the single most important part of this Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is the fact that it will save or create up to 4 million jobs. Because that is what America needs most right now.

It is absolutely true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that's moving through Congress is designed to do.

When passed, this plan will ensure that Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own can receive greater unemployment benefits and continue their health care coverage. We will also provide a $2,500 tax credit to folks who are struggling to pay the cost of their college tuition, and $1000 worth of badly-needed tax relief to working and middle-class families. These steps will put more money in the pockets of those Americans who are most likely to spend it, and that will help break the cycle and get our economy moving.

But as we learned very clearly and conclusively over the last eight years, tax cuts alone cannot solve all our economic problems - especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few Americans. We have tried that strategy time and time again, and it has only helped lead us to the crisis we face right now.

That is why we have come together around a plan that combines hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the middle-class with direct investments in areas like health care, energy, education, and infrastructure - investments that will save jobs, create new jobs and new businesses, and help our economy grow again - now and in the future.

More than 90% of the jobs created by this plan will be in the private sector. These will not be make-work jobs, but jobs doing the work that America desperately needs done. Jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and repairing our dangerously deficient dams and levees so that we don't face another Katrina. They will be jobs building the wind turbines and solar panels and fuel-efficient cars that will lower our dependence on foreign oil, and modernizing a costly health care system that will save us billions of dollars and countless lives. They'll be jobs creating 21st century classrooms, libraries, and labs for millions of children across America. And they'll be the jobs of firefighters, teachers, and police officers that would otherwise be eliminated if we do not provide states with some relief.

After many weeks of debate and discussion, the plan that ultimately emerges from Congress must be big enough and bold enough to meet the size of the economic challenge we face right now. It is a plan that is already supported by businesses representing almost every industry in America; by both the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. It contains input, ideas, and compromises from both Democrats and Republicans. It also contains an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability, so that every American will be able to go online and see where and how we're spending every dime. What it does not contain, however, is a single pet project, and it has been stripped of the projects members of both parties found most objectionable.

Despite all of this, the plan is not perfect. No plan is. I can't tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans. My administration inherited a deficit of over $1 trillion, but because we also inherited the most profound economic emergency since the Great Depression, doing too little or nothing at all will result in an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes; and confidence. That is a deficit that could turn a crisis into a catastrophe. And I refuse to let that happen. As long as I hold this office, I will do whatever it takes to put this country back to work.

I want to thank the members of Congress who've worked so hard to move this plan forward, but I also want to urge all members of Congress to act without delay in the coming week to resolve their differences and pass this plan.

We find ourselves in a rare moment where the citizens of our country and all countries are watching and waiting for us to lead. It is a responsibility that this generation did not ask for, but one that we must accept for the sake of our future and our children's. The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose. That is the test facing the United States of America in this winter of our hardship, and it is our duty as leaders and citizens to stay true to that purpose in the weeks and months ahead. After a day of speaking with and listening to the fundamentally decent men and women who call this nation home, I have full faith and confidence that we can. And with that, I'll take your questions.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 9, 2009; 8:08 PM ET
Categories:  Economy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Michelle Obama Visits Interior Dept.
Next: POTUS Events


And the Lying Con-Man totally ignores the 800Lb. Gorilla!

Not a single word about Illegally residing Foreign Nationals, and the costs associated with them!

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 10, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone (other than JRM2) actually answer my question?

Posted by: JakeD | February 10, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

P.S. Rush Limbaugh didn't think that the "President" gave thoughtful, in-depth answers (his analysis this morning sounded quite a bit like mine last night).

Posted by: JakeD | February 10, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

That's right, did the man who butchered the English language with reckless abandon -- who never was a CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR but still managed somehow to get his two oaths of office right -- who correctly noted * "Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?" did he ever need a TelePrompTer for his press conferences?

* Let us analyze that sentence for a moment. If you're a stickler, you probably think the singular verb "is" should have been the plural "are," but if you read it closely, you'll see he's using the intransitive plural subjunctive tense. So the word "is" are correct ; )

Posted by: JakeD | February 10, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"Does he even understand the financial crisis???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Posted by: goziner | February 9, 2009 8:29 PM"
You must have watched a different speech because the one I saw was with a President that gave thoughtful, in-depth answers (even the conservatives agree) rather than telling us how great America is and playing grab-@$$ with the reporters.

Posted by: JRM2 | February 10, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"Did GWB ever need a TelePrompTer for his press conferences?"
You mean the man who butchered the English language with reckless abandon?

I don't know, is our children learning?

Posted by: JRM2 | February 10, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

people on this website would do well to follow the example we tried to set on the MyBO site --- ignore the trolls. We only fuel JakeD by responding to his ridiculous comments and ficticious statements.

Posted by: kashabear | February 10, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

For the record, (legal) Presidents Reagan or either Bush would have led off with that before the "prepared" statement.

Posted by: JakeD | February 10, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

"It takes a "timely" question, 40 minutes into this press conference, to get Usurper Obama to acknowledge his thoughts and prayers for the families of fallen heroes?!

Posted by: JakeD"

Jake your absolutely right. The President should have spoken about fallen heroes immediately upon being asked about the financial crisis. Then you could whine about how he avoided answering a question.

You shot your validity a long time ago with the Obama is not POTUS crap.

Posted by: Thatsnuts | February 10, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

If someone is paying JakeD, they're paying him too much. Have you read his comments? His latest bugbear is that we can solve a multi-trillion dollar financial crisis by cutting out the infinitely minute portion of that spent on the White House. Wow.

And believe me, that's a high-quality idea from JakeD. He's really been stretching himself lately towards something vaguely approaching reason.

Anyway, in a perfect world I'd scoff at the very notion of someone paying JakeD for what he does. But then, the Republicans *did* send a 24 year-old with no financial experience to set up the Iraqi stock market in 2003, they nominated Palin to the Vice Presidency, and elected Steele to be RNC Chairman (but probably just because another candidate thought a mailing including a "Barack the Magic Negro" routine was a good idea).

I mean, when it comes to the GOP, you just have to set good sense aside and accept that anything is possible. I swear, they are beyond parody.

So who knows? Maybe he's actually a major force in the Republican spin machine? Odder things happen every day in wingnut land.

Posted by: nodebris | February 10, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse


"...not paid to troll."

But you DO troll...

...and you ARE a Frat Boy Nazi.

Res Ipsa Loquitor.

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 10, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

How would I know? I'm not paid to troll.

Posted by: JakeD | February 10, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse


A bulletin for you: I hear Leahy's also going after paid trolls on the public dime.

Better get out the resumes. How's the job market for frat boy Nazis?

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 10, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Leaky Leahy's brain was fried by radiation weapons which is why he thinks there's any chance Obama will prosecute Bush? Don't look now, schrivener50, but I'm using an LCD weapon against you right now.

Posted by: JakeD | February 9, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

What Does Pat Leahy Know That the Mainstream Media Won't Even Ask About?





EYES ONLY. TO: President Obama; MICHELLE OBAMA; VP Biden; R. Emanuel; D. Axelrod; D. Blair; J. Brennan; J. Jones; E. Holder; J. Napolitano; R. Gates; L. Panetta; H. Clinton; T. Geithner; R. Mueller; H. Reid; N. Pelosi; D. Feinstein; S. Reyes


...comprised of security/intel agents, local police nationwide, and citizen vigilantes fronted by government-funded community policing and anti-terrorism programs.




Posted by: scrivener50 | February 9, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

It takes a "timely" question, 40 minutes into this press conference, to get Usurper Obama to acknowledge his thoughts and prayers for the families of fallen heroes?!

Posted by: JakeD | February 9, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Why would anyone promote RVs in one breath and talk about energy conservation in the other. The reason unemployment is so high in Elkhart is because there are no more idiots buying RVs, what a dummy

Posted by: goziner | February 9, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

It costs more than $2 billion to run the White House. Can we limit the federal CEO's "compensation" too?

Posted by: JakeD | February 9, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

It is time for revolt both parties have squandered our money and plan to do so with more, out with both parties and this chicken little attitude....

Posted by: goziner | February 9, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Did GWB ever need a TelePrompTer for his press conferences? Also, it is not " unprecedented" to appoint three Republicans to the Cabinet. We are on just the fourth question, one half hour into this!

Posted by: JakeD | February 9, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Does he even understand the financial crisis???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Posted by: goziner | February 9, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

This guy is way over his head, again with the winterization, what a clown, more of clown than bush..................

Posted by: goziner | February 9, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

My god, the stupidity of reporters is incredible! The AP reporter Obama picked first actually asked if he was "overstating the crisis". This came a couple minutes after he said the nation lost 598,000 jobs in 1 month! Having such idiots as reporters goes a long way to explain how we got into this mess!

Posted by: JacksonGA | February 9, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

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