Bloomberg News

Obama Says Righting U.S. Economy Will Be ‘Long-Term Project’

December 14, 2011

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said restoring the U.S. to robust economic growth is “a long-term project” and will take more than one term and likely “more than one president.”

Americans “have every reason to be impatient” with the pace of the recovery, Obama said in an interview with the CBS program “60 minutes,” according to an excerpt released by the network.

“I didn’t underestimate how tough this was going to be,” Obama said. “I always believed that this was a long-term project.”

The president said in response to a question that “it’s possible” the nation’s unemployment rate may fall to 8 percent by the time of the 2012 election. “I’m not in the job of prognosticating on the economy,” he said. “I’m in the job of putting in place the tools that allow the economy to thrive and Americans to succeed.”

The state of the economy likely will be the top issue in the presidential campaign as the Republican candidates have been making Obama’s policies a central part of their arguments.

While employers added 120,000 jobs to their payrolls last month and unemployment fell to 8.6 percent, the recovery remains fragile and jobs aren’t being created fast enough, Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic advisers, said Dec. 2 after the jobs data was released. Wage gains were limited, restraining consumers’ ability to boost spending that accounts for 70 percent of the economy.

2012 Forecast

Unemployment will average 8.7 percent in 2012, according to the median forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News from Dec. 2-8.

Republicans, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, among the front-runners for the party’s presidential nomination, have faulted Obama for a forecast released at the start of his administration that the stimulus package he pushed through Congress would keep the unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent. It’s been above that level since February 2009 and hit a peak of 10.1 percent in October of that year.

“Reversing structural problems in our economy that have been building up for two decades, that was going to take time,” Obama said according to the “60 Minutes” excerpts. “It was going to take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president.”

Obama told CBS that, when he talks with his staff, he uses the analogy of a ship “going through really bad storms.”

“People are going to say, ‘You know what? A good captain would have had us in some smooth waters and sunny skies at this point,’ Obama said. “And I don’t control the weather. What I can control are the policies we’re putting in place to make a difference in people’s lives.”

The full interview is scheduled for broadcast on Dec. 11.

--Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Jim Rubin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Sobczyk in Washington at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.


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