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WASHINGTON –

President Barack Obama claimed early progress Tuesday night in his dogged campaign to lead the nation out of economic chaos and declared that despite obstacles ahead, “we’re moving in the right direction.”

At the second prime-time news conference of his presidency, Obama also toned down his criticism of bonuses to executives at bailed-out AIG, and shot back at Republican critics of his budget.

In office for 64 tumultuous days, Obama cast his budget â now under review in Congress â as essential if the economy is to recover. The tax and spending plan “is inseparable from this recovery because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity,” he said.

The news conference, lasting a bit under an hour, came at a pivotal, early moment in Obama’s young presidency. Democrats in Congress are readying budget proposals that will largely determine how much of his first-term agenda will be passed, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is churning out near-daily proposals to solve the nation’s economic crisis and the administration is struggling with public and congressional outrage over bonuses paid to executives of bailed-out AIG. Additionally, Obama departs next week for his first European trip as commander in chief, with the global economy a major focus.

Flexible on some points, Obama was unyielding on others. Pressed on why he seemed to delay before condemning the AIG bonuses, Obama said, “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

The news conference was dominated by questions about the economy. Obama defended the steps his administration has taken to counter the recession and an unprecedented credit crisis. He said teachers and others have jobs today because of the economic stimulus measure that Congress passed, and the nation is “beginning to see signs of increased sales and stabilized housing prices for the first time in a long time.”

He said full-fledged recovery is months away, and he added, “It will take patience.”

At the same time, he said, “we’re in a better place because of the decisions that we made.”

Obama put in a plug for the request Geithner made to Congress earlier in the day for extraordinary authority to take over failing companies like American International Group Inc., much as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. now does for banks.

“It is precisely because of the lack of this authority” that AIG’s problems threatened to bring down the entire U.S. economy, he said. Top Democrats in Congress reacted positively to the proposal, although it is not clear when legislation might be considered.

Obama has been vocal in his unhappiness over the $165 million in retention bonuses paid to executives at AIG, although his favorable reference to business men and women seeking profits was a new twist.

“Bankers and executives on Wall Street need to realize that enriching themselves on the taxpayers’ dime is inexcusable, that the days of outsized rewards and reckless speculation that puts us all at risk have to be over,” he said.

“At the same time, the rest of us can’t afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit. That drive is what has always fueled our prosperity, and it is what will ultimately get these banks lending and our economy moving once more,” he said.

The president opened the news conference with a prepared statement read from a teleprompter, turning the event’s opening moments into a brief speech delivered to a nationwide TV audience in addition to the roomful of reporters.

He said his administration was taking steps to make sure banks have money to lend “even if the economy gets worse.”

Obama said he did not feel the government should call on Americans to make sacrifices beyond those imposed by the recession and credit crisis. “Folks are sacrificing left and right … across the board, people are making adjustments large and small,” he said.

Obama was quick with a retort when asked about Republican criticism of his budget, with its huge projected deficits.

“First of all,” he said he inherited a deficit of over $1 trillion from his predecessor. And secondly, he said the Republicans have yet to offer an alternative to his own tax and spending plan.

Obama has emphasized a desire to cut projected deficits in half by the end of his current term, although recent estimates make it appear almost impossible barring an extraordinary series of events.

Given concern in Congress over the red ink, Senate Democrats are drafting a separate budget plan that assumes Obama’s proposed middle class tax cut expires after two years â the sort of sleight of hand that other administrations of both parties have used in the past.

While Congress’ budget does not go to the White House for a president’s signature, the White House traditionally seeks to influence its provisions. Obama restated his objectives Tuesday night â health care overhaul, a new energy policy and more money for education and deficit control.

Obama stepped to the microphone one day after his administration unveiled a plan to melt the credit freeze by helping banks shed bad loans. Under the proposal, the government will finance the purchase by private investors of as much as $1 trillion of the $2 trillion in bad assets still held by the nation’s banks, in the hopes of freeing banks to begin lending more freely and churn up economic activity.

The proposal led to a huge stock rally on Monday, though stocks slipped back somewhat on Tuesday as Wall Street digested all the information.

Obama also is preparing for a European trip next week that includes a London summit on the global economic crisis, while, away from the economy, an announcement is expected by Friday on a revamped U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The president took particular care to defend the $3.6 trillion budget proposal that includes his ambitious, all-at-once agenda of increased health care coverage, higher education spending and a new “cap-and-trade” system on greenhouse gases emissions. The blueprint starts its journey through Congress this week, and is encountering opposition and demands for big spending reductions from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans.

On Wednesday, Obama is heading to Capitol Hill to lobby Senate Democrats.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell emphasized Republican criticism of the president’s proposed budget as an over-spending, over-taxing disaster. A Congressional Budget Office analysis released last Friday estimates Obama’s budget would generate deficits totaling $9.3 trillion over the next decade

“If these plans are carried out, we run the risk of looking like a Third World country,” said McConnell, R-Ky.

Obama’s job approval rating is 63 percent, according to Gallup polling. That number has been relatively stable recently, down from the 68 percent when the president took office mostly on a loss of support among Republicans.

Obama has been in near-constant motion since he assumed the presidency just over two months ago. This week has assumed an especially feverish pitch.

Obama also is preparing for a European trip next week that includes a London summit on the global economic crisis, while, away from the economy, an announcement is expected by Friday on a revamped U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The president took particular care to defend the $3.6 trillion budget proposal that includes his ambitious, all-at-once agenda of increased health care coverage, higher education spending and a new “cap-and-trade” system on greenhouse gases emissions. The blueprint starts its journey through Congress this week, and is encountering opposition and demands for big spending reductions from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans.

On Wednesday, Obama is heading to Capitol Hill to lobby Senate Democrats.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell emphasized Republican criticism of the president’s proposed budget as an over-spending, over-taxing disaster. A Congressional Budget Office analysis released last Friday estimates Obama’s budget would generate deficits totaling $9.3 trillion over the next decade

“If these plans are carried out, we run the risk of looking like a Third World country,” said McConnell, R-Ky.

Obama’s job approval rating is 63 percent, according to Gallup polling. That number has been relatively stable recently, down from the 68 percent when the president took office mostly on a loss of support among Republicans.

Obama has been in near-constant motion since he assumed the presidency just over two months ago. This week has assumed an especially feverish pitch.

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Archived comments

“We need young people instead of the, you know, a smart kid coming out of school, instead of wanting to be an investment banker, we need them to decide they want to be an engineer, want to be a scientist, they want to be a doctor or a teacher, and if we’re rewarding those kinds of things that actually contribute to making things and — and making people’s lives better” – Obama

bouldermeister

3/24/2009 6:41:08 PM

Thanks for posting that.It sounds better every time I hear it!

I’m 50 and I’ll have my teaching certificate within the year.I’m going to teach High School Chemistry.I couldn’t agree more with Obama.We need to get our education system back on track.It is truely our future.

smithomon

3/24/2009 7:18:22 PM

Yea don’t demonize those investors. After all thats my Provence. And don’t look at my right hand either. Just watch my left hand, Watch my left hand. Because: my right hand is going to be budgeting 4.19 Billion, with a B, to go to ACORN, under the guise of a Community Stabilization activities stimulus grant. Hey it’s already less than 4 years until the next election. We need to get all the undocumented aliens, and any other fraudulent voters we can come up with registered early this time. Hi Doc. Get out the old bicarb this is going to be a long 4 years for all of us.

biker_joe

3/24/2009 7:20:13 PM

Congress hasn’t legislated a single penny to ACORN. You can look it up.

http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/does_the_stimulus_bill_include_a_52.html

***

cordymac@hotmail.com

3/24/2009 7:25:59 PM

biker_joe:Have you been paying any attention at all the last eight years?Investment BANKERS (not investors- there’s a not so subtle difference) have demonized themselves.

And, please look up cordymac’s link- and actually read it- before spouting off again in a rambling, incoherent burnt out biker manner.

4.4Forty@gmail.com

3/24/2009 7:38:27 PM

bicker: “Get out the old bicarb this is going to be a long 4 years for all of us.”

For you. I’m loving the hell out of all eight years of it.

flaven

3/24/2009 7:45:01 PM

Posted by 4.4Forty on March 24, 2009 at 7:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

biker_joe: Have you been paying any attention at all the last eight years? Investment BANKERS (not investors- there’s a not so subtle difference) have demonized themselves.

biker_joe:Let me amend the above.

Have you been paying any attention at all for the last 28 years?

4.4Forty@gmail.com

3/24/2009 7:59:00 PM

“Obama put in a plug for the request Geithner made to Congress earlier in the day for extraordinary authority to take over failing companies like American International Group Inc., much as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. now does for banks.” Also see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/23/AR2009032302830_pf.html

Is this guy out of his mind? Yes, let’s give a dumb-nut like Geithner (who can’t even pay his taxes) power to take control of financial companies. Obama makes GWB’s Patriot Act look like small beans compared to where he wants to take this country. People need to wake up out of their Obamagasm and see what the heck this idiot wants to do to our country. He is the perfect example of why it is so important to understand history so that it doesn’t repeat itself.

dludler

3/24/2009 8:11:49 PM

how did my post end up on this entirely unrelated story?

bouldermeister

3/24/2009 8:48:27 PM

It is really amusing to see people actually hypnotized by a puupet show designed to feed people crap..

Here have another bowl..hahaha.

sidd

3/24/2009 9:07:34 PM

What is a “puupet show”?

Purley_Baker

3/24/2009 9:23:18 PM

“we’re moving in the right direction.”

Yep. All we need is just a few trillion more.

walongloop

3/24/2009 9:40:51 PM

The president is disingenuous in his pitch that we have to go on a spending orgy on health care and jack up energy taxes to help the economy recover.Europe nationalized its health care systems long ago and has shamelessly high energy taxes and they are in an even deeper economic funk than the USA right now.

This was a global credit and speculation bubble that burst.Everyone â free markets, dictatorships, and socialist centrally-controlled economies are all upside down right now.

Everything he proposes beyond dealing with the banks and bad assets is an audacious headfake.

slehan@aupairint.com

3/24/2009 9:50:26 PM

Tuesday night NBC’s Chuck Todd asked what might be the worst question of all time at a Presidential news conference, and proved how freakin’ out of touch MSM and the Beltway Bloviators are with the American peopleâ ¦ Chuck Todd is a complete moron and seems to have learned his “skills” at the feet of Tim Russert, David Gregory and CNN’s John King â irrelevant a*s kissers all.

http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2009/03/obamas_2nd_press_conference_li.html

8:13 pm â “Why are you asking for no sacrifice from the American people?” asks NBC’s Chuck Todd who says the economic crisis has been likened to war. Obama says his administration has put conditions on those receiving bailouts, so those folks are clearly asking for sacrifice. Then he says the American people are sacrificing in a number of ways, including furloughs to save their coworkers jobs. That was the right answer. Hard to sacrifice more than you sacrifice when you’re laid off or taking pay cuts.

Compare Todd’s question “Why are you asking for no sacrifice from the American people” with Matt Taibbi’s excellent article “The Big Takeover” http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/26793903/the_big_takeover/print and you have an extreme example of the difference between the worthless, elitist, inside-the-beltway MSM and real investigative and insightful journalism.

Chuck Todd is a joke.

taoistblockhead

3/24/2009 10:13:10 PM

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/view/

Ten Trillion and Counting:You might want to watch this … it was on after the news conference and explains just how we got here.(Hint: Bush plays a large role.)

lafayetteeast

3/24/2009 10:21:55 PM

Notice how he never answered the question as to whether or not he would sign a budget that did not include cap and trade….

SoldierInWarofIdeas

3/24/2009 10:22:01 PM

Bush and Cheney will be behind bars soon. They took a crap all over America and We the People are going to make sure those War Criminals are brought to justice.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Pearle, Addington, Yoo, et al = SoldiersinWarsofBankruptIdeas.

taoistblockhead

3/24/2009 10:28:35 PM

Bend Over & Say, “Uncle Sam”

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22289.htm

***

cordymac@hotmail.com

3/24/2009 10:32:03 PM

Didn’t have to, siwoi — what he tried to do, that you missed, was to give some leeway as to the exact details … while still expecting the four main tenets of his plans.But the budget will pass, by 51 votes in the Senate.

lafayetteeast

3/24/2009 10:36:15 PM

“Obama cast his budget â now under review in Congress â as essential if the economy is to recover”

Most economists agree that stimulus packages and increased government spending do not help get us out of recessions. Every time we have a recession, there are “gloom and doom” prophecies. Yet, we come out of them in 1-3 years. The future American taxpayers will assume bad debt from all of these financial institutions so we can make this recession easier on “us” over the next couple of years.

There is a lot of chatter over whether or not this is Bush’s fault, Clinton’s fault, etc. Let’s blame the real culprits – Congress. Congress passes the laws and a majority of Congress is made up of a bunch of old men that have spent their careers in Congress screwing the country up so that we’re in the mess we now have. Once we get through this “crisis” we can look forward to the impending credit card bubble bursting. That will likely eclipse the sub-prime mortgage crisis by an order of magnitude since it will affect so many more Americans.

ggwhitten1

3/25/2009 7:12:57 AM

Don’t bother, they’re here.

And they’re off and running with the first wave of adorable, foot-shooting posts, comical comical goofs by comical goofs for comical goofs.

Dr_Johnson

3/25/2009 8:01:17 AM

ggwhitten1 – you nailed it.Problem is, voters can’t seem to grasp blaming 535 people.Much easier to blame one person, and to believe that another single person can solve it.

I find fault with both parties, and particularly Congress collectively.But, bottom line, it’s the voters that are to blame.The voters give these self-serving dolts power.

Anybody who believes that ever larger deficits are good for the economy should re-take those economics classes they slept through in college.

backrange

3/25/2009 8:19:45 AM

“Anybody who believes that ever larger deficits are good for the economy should re-take those economics classes they slept through in college.”

Typical strawman. Who claims that?

Dr_Johnson

3/25/2009 8:28:07 AM

Posted by NascarFan â

“What is a “puupet show”?”

____________________

Nevermind just go back to the T.V. before the commercials are over.

sidd

3/25/2009 8:38:01 AM

“Most economists agree that stimulus packages and increased government spending do not help get us out of recessions. Every time we have a recession, there are “gloom and doom” prophecies. Yet, we come out of them in 1-3 years. The future American taxpayers will assume bad debt from all of these financial institutions so we can make this recession easier on “us” over the next couple of years.

There is a lot of chatter over whether or not this is Bush’s fault, Clinton’s fault, etc. Let’s blame the real culprits – Congress. Congress passes the laws and a majority of Congress is made up of a bunch of old men that have spent their careers in Congress screwing the country up so that we’re in the mess we now have. Once we get through this “crisis” we can look forward to the impending credit card bubble bursting. That will likely eclipse the sub-prime mortgage crisis by an order of magnitude since it will affect so many more Americans.” That was posted by ggwhitten

Is this recession like any other recession like any other recession? This recession started because greedy people took advantage of the worlds peoples. One of the main problems is that the money isn’t there anymore, unlike other recessions. Like all republicans, (and I’m pretty sure you’re republican), you have a problem grasping the fact that Bush took an 80 billion surplus and turned it into the biggest deficit in American history. In this situation with the economy, letting it work itself out is too dangerous to the world economy. If worldwide banks fail,the US, who had been feeding them the money will be blamed for failure to support the world. And let me ask you, if the economy fails, what will happen to you and your family?

hamonry

3/25/2009 8:48:18 AM

“…in his pitch that we have to go on a spending orgy on health care…”

We already are spending more for health care than all other nations, and the per cent is steadily rising.

Dr_Johnson

3/25/2009 8:51:12 AM

“Yea don’t demonize those investors. After all thats my Provence.”

You guys always have to drag the French into it, somehow.

Dr_Johnson

3/25/2009 9:28:48 AM

“President Barack Obama claimed early progress Tuesday night in his dogged campaign to lead the nation out of economic chaos and declared that despite obstacles ahead, “we’re moving in the right direction.””

We can tell this how?

Unemployment rates?

New housing starts?

Dow Jones?

Promise of a 10 trillion dollar deficit?

New liberal government programs started… check.

bobcat77

3/25/2009 10:37:56 AM

Did this article really come from the AP, or the DNC?

backrange

3/25/2009 2:08:33 PM

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