NPR logo Obama: Can You Hear Me Now On Economy?


Obama: Can You Hear Me Now On Economy?

Is this thing working? was the immediate question President Barack Obama wanted answered at the start of his brief remarks on the economy Monday.      Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo hide caption

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

President Barack Obama has had difficulties communicating his message that his economic policies — the stimulus, financial assistance to car makers etc. — have indeed made a difference, that they kept the economy from going over the cliff.

So the irony wasn't lost on some on Monday that when the president, making his first comments about the economy on returning to the White House from vacation, had problems with the public address system set up in the Rose Garden.

Talking about the state of the economy when he took office, Obama said:

And at the time, no one knew just how deep the recession would go, or the havoc that it would wreak on families and businesses across this country. What we did know was that it took nearly a decade — (taps mike) — what we — (chuckles) — how're we doing on sound, guys?

(Someone speaks off mike.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Is it still going (in ?) the press?  Okay.
What we did know was that it was going to take nearly a decade in order — (pause) — can you guys still hear us?  Okay.

Let me try this one more time.  What we did know was that it took nearly a decade to dig the hole that we're in, and that it would take longer than any of us would like to climb our way out.

Anyway, the president got past the audio problem and delivered essentially two messages. One, after meeting with his economic team Monday morning, he promised that his White House will have some additional ideas in coming days and weeks to improve the economy. So Americans should stay tuned for those, was the message.


Two, he pressed the Senate (really Senate Republicans who he specifically mentioned) to pass legislation meant to provide small business owners with incentives to hire.

Another excerpt from his remarks:

So, as Congress prepares to return to session, my economic teamis hard at work in identifying additional measures that could make adifference in both promoting growth and hiring in the short term, andincreasing our economy's competitiveness in the long term — stepslike extending the tax cuts for the middle class that are set toexpire this year; redoubling our investment in clean energy and R&D;rebuilding more of our infrastructure for the future; further tax cutsto encourage businesses to put their capital to work creating jobshere in the United States.  And I'll be addressing these proposals infurther detail in the days and weeks to come.

In the meantime, there's one thing we know we should do,something that should be Congress's first order of business when itgets back, and that is making it easier for our small businesses togrow and hire.

You know, we know that in the final few months of last year, small businesses accounted for more than 60 percent of the job losses in America. That's why we passed eight different tax cuts for small businesses and worked to expand credit for them. But we have to do more.

And there's currently a jobs bill before Congress that would do two big things for small-business owners:  cut more taxes and make available more loans.  It would help them get the credit they need and eliminate capital gains taxes on key investments so they have more incentive to invest right now.

And it would accelerate $55 billion oftax relief to encourage American businesses, small and large, to expand their investments over the next 14 months.

Unfortunately, this bill has been languishing in the Senate for months, held up by a partisan minority that won't even allow it to goto a vote.  That makes no sense.  This bill is fully paid for.  It will not add to the deficit.  And there is no reason to block it besides pure partisan politics.

The small-business owners and the communities that rely on them, they don't have time for political games. They shouldn't have to wait any longer. In fact, just this morning, a story showed that small businesses have put hiring and expanding on hold while waiting for the Senate to act on this bill.

Simply put, holding this bill hostage is directly detrimental to our economic growth.  So I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade. I know we're entering an election season, but the people who sent us here expect us to work together to get things done and improve this economy.