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Obama optimistic about Europe's actions

U.S. President Barack Obama. File. UPI/Martin H. Simon/POOL | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/a98b127fa205255bd23ee0c146530cb2/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.S. President Barack Obama. File. UPI/Martin H. Simon/POOL | License Photo

CANNES, France, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama said Friday the world has a stake in resolving Europe's debt crisis and he believes European leaders will meet the challenge.

"I am confident that Europe has the capacity to meet this challenge. I know it isn't easy, but what is absolutely critical, and what the world looks for in moments such as this, is action," Obama said during a news conference in Cannes, France, on the second day of the Group of 20 leaders summit.

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"All of us have an enormous interest in Europe's success," Obama said. "If Europe isn't growing … it's harder for us [the United States] to do what we need to do."

European leaders are sending a clear signal that "they're committed to the euro," Obama said, beginning with the leaders "arriving at a common course of action. All the elements for dealing with crisis are put in place."

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First, there is a solution to the specific problem involving Greece's debt that involves a voluntary reduction by those who hold Greece's debt as well as reforms within Greece.

"It's the right recipe and needs to be carried out," Obama said.

Second, the European banks have been recapitalized, and third, a firewall has been created to protect vulnerable economies, Obama said.

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"[The] international community stands ready to assist and make sure overall global economy is cushioned" as Europe works through its crisis, he said.

While saying there is more work to be done, "I am confident that the key leaders in Europe understand ... that the crisis must be resolved … and will work to resolve it."

He used the opportunity to tweak the U.S. Congress for failing to pass any portion of his American Jobs Act.

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While Friday's lower unemployment rate of 9 percent was good news, Obama said more could be done and Congress needs "to think twice" before voting against the only proposal independent economists said would help grow jobs and the economy in the near term.

"There is no excuse for inaction," Obama said. "This is true globally and at home as well."

When Republicans have indicated they would act to help the economy, "I've been right here with them," Obama said, citing the passage of three free-trade agreements and patent reform laws.

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Senate Republicans effectively blocked passage of an infrastructure repair measure that would have created about 100,000 jobs and would have been paid for by taxing those making $1 million or more, Obama said, which was about 300,000 people.

To Republicans who say the tax adversely affects small businesses, Obama said, "There aren't a lot of small businesses making that kind of money," adding that less than 3 percent were making more than $350,000.

"If that's their rationale," Obama said, "it doesn't fly."

He said he would continue to take administrative steps to help the economy without congressional action.

"But if we're going to do something big to jump-start the economy," the president said, "Congress is going to need to act."

Asked about his track record concerning the economy, Obama said when he came into office the U.S. economy had contracted by 9 percent and was growing by 4 percent a year later.

"Is that good enough? Absolutely not, we've got to do more," Obama said. "As soon as I get some signal from Congress that they're willing to take their responsibility seriously, we can do more."

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