Obama Cites Economic Progress, Warns of Pitfalls


Seeking to build support for the Administration's economic policies in a speech at Georgetown, Obama cites "glimmers of hope"

President Barack Obama, in what is being billed as a major economic speech, touted the Administration's economic successes so far and then warn that "times are still tough."

Obama, in a Tuesday morning speech at Georgetown University, told his audience: "There is no doubt that times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods just yet," according to the prepared text. "But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an American future that is far different than our troubled economic past."

The President cited a number of specific signs of economic progress, saying that some planned public-sector layoffs have been canceled and mortgage loan refinancings are up. "Our program to support the market for auto loans and student loans has started to unfreeze this market and securitize more of this lending in the last few weeks. And small businesses are seeing a jump in loan activity for the first time in months," he said.

The speech is designed to buttress support for the Administration's economic plans and to counter political opponents who complain of excessive government spending to counter the economic downturn.

New Finance Industry Regulations

"For too long, too many in Washington put off hard decisions for some other time on some other day," Obama said. "There's been a tendency to score political points instead of rolling up sleeves to solve real problems."

Obama also reiterated calls for new regulations for the financial industry, saying too much of recent economic gains were built on short-term financial growth. "It is not sustainable to have an economy where in one year, 40% of our corporate profits came from a financial sector that was based too much on inflated home prices, maxed-out credit cards, overleveraged banks, and overvalued assets; or an economy where the incomes of the top 1% have skyrocketed while the typical working household has seen their income decline by nearly $2,000," the President said.

In a National Review Online op-ed piece posted Tuesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) continued the attack on the Administration's economic policies, writing: "Instead of taking action to help people restore their savings as quickly as possible, Washington is pursuing policies that are causing savings to disappear even more quickly. There are new programs that force those who acted responsibly to bail out those who didn't; a trillion-dollar 'stimulus' chock-full of wasteful spending that will be paid for by our children and grandchildren; the $410 billion omnibus spending bill loaded with some 9,000 unscrutinized earmarks; and the Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget that spends, taxes, and borrows too much."

Mintz is news editor for BusinessWeek.com in New York.

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