Obama urges patience, lower expectations on economy

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday told Americans to brace for "more job loss, more foreclosures, and more pain" in 2009, saying the recession isn't over yet despite some early promise from the government's massive spending on bailouts and economic stimulus.

In lengthy remarks, delivered at Georgetown University, Obama sought to justify the steps his administration has taken and make the case for more regulation and spending, while urging patience and a lowering of expectations in terms of how quickly unemployment numbers and stocks will turn around.

While addressing American workers, homeowners and investors, the president's timing also suggests that he wants to frame the debate on his terms as members of Congress wind down their spring recess.

Upon their return next week to the Capitol, lawmakers must reconcile House and Senate versions of a $3.6 trillion budget. Obama also is asking them this year to fund and legislate an expansion of government health care, and a "gradual, market-based" program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By year's end, he said, he wants Congress to pass legislation tightening the regulation of Wall Street and the financial industry.

The president on Tuesday spoke of Washington's typical "impatience," of the 24-hour news cycle and desire for "instant gratification" and said the economy can't be fixed within those confines.

"I know how difficult it is for members of Congress in both parties to grapple with some of the big decisions we face right now," he said. "It's more than most congresses and most presidents have to deal with in a lifetime. But we have been called to govern in extraordinary times."

Obama told of the Sermon on the Mount, and the house built on sand versus rock. "We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand; we must build our house upon a rock," he said.

He acknowledged "a criticism out there that my administration has somehow been spending with reckless abandon, pushing a liberal social agenda while mortgaging our children's future."

The president countered: "If we don't invest now in renewable energy or a skilled work force or a more affordable health care system, this economy simply won't grow at the pace it needs to in two or five or ten years" and that "it won't be long before we are right back where we are today."


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