Obama: Long recovery effort will succeed
President says his spending plan will ultimately leave nation stronger
Obama’s news conference
LIVE VIDEO: With his $3.6 trillion budget being debated in Congress, President Barack Obama holds his second prime-time news conference.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
100 days timeline interactive
A president's first days in office can be defined by landmark victories — or memorable failures. Explore our timeline gauging hits and misses from Roosevelt to Obama.
First 100 days
During his ninth week in office, President Barack Obama promoted his stimulus plan in California, appeared on two television programs, and addressed the people of Iran in a video message.
Video: White House
“This crisis didn’t happen overnight,” Obama said in his second prime-time news conference. And the recovery will take “many months,” he said, because “we’ve accumulated structural deficits that are going to take a long time” to rectify.
Story continues below ↓advertisement | your ad here
After a week of diversions like the scandal over bonuses paid to executives of American International Group’s rogue Financial Services division, the president convened the news conference in an attempt to refocus attention on his ambitious $3.6 trillion budget proposal, which he called “inseparable” from the recovery effort.
“It’s a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to restart lending and to grow our economy over the long term,” Obama said.
The news conference was being shown live on NBC and MSNBC.
Watching over AIG
Despite Obama’s attempt to change the subject, much of the discussion was about AIG, which created a blistering controversy this month when it was widely reported that $165 million of the money the company had received from the federal bailout of the financial sector would be paid out in bonuses.
In recent weeks, the furor has threatened to undermine the president’s efforts to bail out the financial sector by scaring investors away from the new program and by making it more difficult to wring more bailout money out of Congress.
Obama said he was confident that there would be “strong support from the American people and the Congress” for authority he is seeking for a broad overhaul of financial regulations that would give the administration more power to regulate and even take complicated financial companies whose collapse could threaten the entire system. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is to outline the proposal Thursday when he testifies on Capitol Hill.
Chuck Todd, NBC News’ chief White House correspondent, reported Tuesday that the sense at the White House was that the administration’s agenda was finally coming together. The president believed now was a good time to return to the No. 1 goal of mobilizing the public behind his budget, officials said.
“I think the American people want to see and hear from their president right now, listen to the steps that he’s taking and the administration are taking to get the economy moving again,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told MSNBC on Tuesday.
The focus should be on health care, energy, education, he said, to “build a foundation for long-term economic growth,” as opposed to what he called the illusory prosperity of the last few years, which he said was fueled by short-term maneuvering on Wall Street.
The most important of those targets is health care costs, the president insisted. And he said it would be the most difficult.
“The problem is not just in government-run programs. The problem is in the private sector, as well,” Obama said. “It’s experienced by families. It’s experienced by businesses.”
Obama said he would push proposals to fund new technologies in medical care, advance preventive care and monitor cost controls, signaling that the administration may seek to change the system under which the government reimburses health care providers under Medicaid and Medicare to emphasize “improved quality instead of the number of patients they treat.”
He acknowledged that such proposals would “cost money on the front end,” but he maintained that they offered “the prospect of reduced costs on the back end.”
Obama also disputed the contention that he was asking only Wall Street to sacrifice, saying the American people had already sacrificed enough.
“Folks are sacrificing left and right,” he said.
“You’ve got a lot of parents who are sacrificing on everything to make sure their kids can go go to college,” he contended, as are workers who are accepting unpaid furloughs “so their colleagues don’t get laid off.