Obama touts economy, slams Republicans

Obama touts economy, slams Republicans
U.S. President Barack Obama points to middle class people in the audience as he makes a comment on the economy as he marks the five-year anniversary of the U.S. financial crisis in a speech in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington, DC on September 16, 2013. Obama touted the economic recovery that created 7.5 million private sector jobs but said more needs to be done for the middle class. UPI/Pat Benic | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- President Obama Monday cited the economic comeback since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, but said some Republicans were threatening to derail it.

"I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it doesn't get 100 percent of what it wants," Obama said


Speaking in the Eisenhower Office Building next to the White House, Obama pointed to threats from some in the U.S. House to shut down the government unless the 2010 Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is repealed. He repeatedly slammed the core of conservative Republicans in Congress.

Obama said he would not compromise on raising the debt ceiling to keep the government open. "I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States."

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The address was billed as an update on the economy, but much of it dealt with the upcoming budget and debt ceiling fights, which promise to be bitter.

"It was five years ago this week that the financial crisis rocked Wall Street, and sent the economy ... into a tailspin," Obama said. "By the time I took office the economy was shrinking by 8 percent" a year.


The president said most people saw the crisis as personal -- the loss of a job or foreclosure on a home -- "not the Lehman Brothers failure." Lehman, a global financial services company, declared bankruptcy in 2008.

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Obama described what he said was progress in tax fairness and healthcare.

"We've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis," he said. But, "we need to grow [the economy faster]. ... As Congress begins another budget debate, that's what Congress needs to be focused on."

Obama said, "After all the progress we've made over the last five years" it could be derailed by political squalling. "The inability to compromise is not what we need right now."

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Some Republicans have said they must be allowed to shut down the healthcare act or they "won't pay the bills," he said, "which would cause America to default on its debt for the first time in history."

Obama said the House GOP has tried "to repeal or sabotage [the ACA] 40 times," but "meanwhile families and small businesses are being helped" by the law. The president said there is "no serious evidence that the law ... has hurt the recovery. ...

"Let's stop the threats, let's stop the posturing, let's keep the government open," Obama said.

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Obama said he has put forward plans to reform the tax system and entitlements, but hasn't even heard back from the Republican leadership.

In an interview aired Sunday on ABC's "This week, " Obama said his policies helped the economy but haven't boosted most people's incomes since 2008.

"We came in, stabilized the situation," he said.

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The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, in the final months of the George W. Bush administration, is widely blamed as a key domino in a series of business failures and market gyrations in the unfolding implosion of the global financial crisis that led to the Great Recession.

"We've now had 42 straight months of growth," Obama said Sunday, "7 1/2 million new jobs created -- 500,000 jobs in manufacturing, 370,000 jobs in an auto industry that had completely collapsed.

"The banking system works. It is giving loans to companies who can get credit. And so we have seen, I think undoubtedly, progress across the board," he said.

"But what is also true is we're not near where we need to be. And part of it has to do with a whole bunch of long-term trends in the economy, where the gains that we've made in productivity and people working harder have all accrued to the people at the very top," Obama said.


"And the folks in the middle and at the bottom haven't seen wage or income growth, not just over the last three, four years, but over the last 15 years," he said. "And so everything that I've done has been designed to, No. 1, stabilize the economy, get it growing again, start producing jobs again; No. 2, trying to push against these trends that had been happening for decades now."

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