Economy Dominates Obama News Conference

By Paula Wolfson

Washington, DC (RPRN) 25 March 2009
-The economy dominated U.S. President Barack Obama’s second formal nationally broadcast news conference. Mr. Obama also talked about violence in Mexico and the search for peace in the Middle East.

The president says he is sure the recession can be reversed. He says there has already been a glimpse of progress.

“We will recover from this recession,” said President Obama. “But it will take time.”

He says passage of his budget proposals is key.

“The budget I submitted to Congress will build our economic recovery on a stronger foundation, so that we do not face another crisis like this 10 or 20 years from now,” said Mr. Obama.

Throughout the news conference, the president was a man on a mission. His goal: to get the public to focus on the overall economy after days of outrage over insurance giant AIG, which gave millions of dollars in bonuses to its employees while getting government funds to stay afloat.

Mr. Obama urged the American people to support his effort to give the government broad powers to regulate financial institutions like AIG that are not banks but whose downfall could seriously harm the economy.

“It is precisely because of the lack of this authority that the AIG situation has gotten worse,” he said.

The president also talked about the need for reform in the international financial sector. He said he sees no need for a global currency. And he made clear he will be going to the G-20 economic summit in London next week with a full agenda.

“The goal at the G-20 summit, I think, is to do a couple of things,” said the president. “Number one is to say to all countries, ‘let’s do what is necessary to create jobs and get the economy moving again.”

During the almost hour-long session with reporters, the president was also asked about his decision to send extra U.S. agents to the Mexican border in an effort to combat an explosion of violence tied to powerful drug cartels.

He said he is willing to take further action should it become necessary.

“We are going to continue to monitor the situation and if the steps we have taken do not get the job done, then we will do more,” said Mr. Obama.

The final question of the evening dealt with the Middle East and the prospects for peace now that a new, more conservative government is preparing to take power in Israel.

The president conceded the peace process will not be any easier, acknowledging a lot of uncertainty regarding the future of both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. But he said he will not give up.

“What we do know is this; that the status quo is unsustainable,” he said.

The president said he is a big believer in the power of persistence. He said the same American persistence that helped end years of conflict in Northern Ireland could bring results in the Middle East.

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