For an hour and a half yesterday, President Obama held a press conference where he addressed the ongoing need to strengthen America’s economy and to reduce our debt and deficit in a balanced, responsible way.
The President noted that the economy did not collapse overnight, and it will not be fixed overnight. But since taking office, he has fought to create jobs and help make our country stronger and more advanced than before. And these measures have helped lay the groundwork for recovery:
Today, our administration is trying to take those steps, so we're reviewing government regulations so that we can fix any rules in place that are an unnecessary burden on businesses. We’re working with the private sector to get small businesses and start-ups the financing they need to grow and expand. And because of the partnership that we’ve launched with businesses and community colleges, 500,000 workers will be able to receive the right skills and training for manufacturing jobs in companies all across America -- jobs that companies are looking to fill.
During the past 15 months, the economy has added more than 2.1 million private-sector jobs. But if this trend is to continue, Congress must prioritize the economy over politics.
In fact, the President suggested policies they could pass right away that would immediately help generate growth and support business. Congress could pass legislation to:
- Invest in infrastructure projects that would get construction workers back to work ASAP, and would help refurbish our roads and bridges;
- Ratify trade agreements that would expand the market for American businesses to sell their products overseas; and,
- Extend the payroll tax cut for middle-class families for another year.
The President also addressed the urgent need to reduce the deficit and lower our long-term debt – but he emphasized that this process must be done responsibly. He made it clear that both parties must seek a balanced approach, one that doesn’t sacrifice the needs of the most vulnerable and one that doesn’t sabotage economic growth:
So the bottom line is this: Any agreement to reduce our deficit is going to require tough decisions and balanced solutions. And before we ask our seniors to pay more for health care, before we cut our children’s education, before we sacrifice our commitment to the research and innovation that will help create more jobs in the economy, I think it’s only fair to ask an oil company or a corporate jet owner that has done so well to give up a tax break that no other business enjoys. I don’t think that’s real radical. I think the majority of Americans agree with that.
Unless Congress acts to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government will begin to default on its obligations on August 2nd. That’s why both parties must come together in good faith to reach a compromise:
I want everybody to understand that this is a jobs issue. This is not an abstraction. If the United States government, for the first time, cannot pay its bills, if it defaults, then the consequences for the U.S. economy will be significant and unpredictable.
You can read through the full transcript of yesterday’s press conference here.