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Obama on the Economy

This morning, President Barack Obama held a press conference, the eighth of his tenure, and focused mostly on the economy. Here’s a rundown of what he had to say.

**Council of Economic Advisers: **Obama formally announced that Austan Goolsbee, an economist currently on the three-person council (also an advocate of letting Chrysler fail, a skeptic of business tax cuts’ impact, and a funny guy), will become the head of the CEA. Christina Romer, the prior head, returned to the West Coast earlier this month. The president said that Goolsbee will provide “continuity” within the White House economic team, meaning no big shakeups within the administration.

In reply, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) tweeted, “Instead of ‘continuity’ w/ Goolsbee, President Obama should appoint someone who has actually created jobs in the real world.”

**Things are still bad: **Obama said outright that Americans are “frustrated” with how the government has handled the recession, and admitted that the recovery has been “painfully slow.” Still, he praised the administration’s efforts and said they made the right choices. He said the White House has “hardly [been] Johnny-come-lately on this issue.”

“It worked,” Obama said of the stimulus. “It just hasn’t done as much as we needed.”

**This stimulative proposal is definitely not a stimulus! **Someone asked Obama if his recent proposal of business tax cuts is a stimulus. The word apparently polls horribly, as Obama gave a, well, awkward answer.

“There is no doubt that everything we’ve been trying to do, everything we’ve been trying to do, is designed to stimulate growth and additional jobs in the economy. That’s our entire agenda. So I have no problem with people saying the president is trying to stimulate growth and hiring. Isn’t that what I should be doing?”

**Probably Warren: **Obama called Elizabeth Warren — progressives’ and bookies’ favorite to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — “a dear friend.”

“She’s somebody I’ve known since I was in law school. I have been in conversations with her. She is a tremendous advocate for this idea,” he said. That said, he did not say he would name her to the post, instead saying “I’ll have an announcement soon.” It will be shocking if it is anyone other than her at this point — and the delay has some in Washington a little confused, if not really concerned.

**Job growth: **Jobs came up often during the 75 minutes of questions. Obama said he is focused on fostering “broad-based job growth and broad-based economic growth” to help all Americans, especially poor Americans. “I am constantly thinking about how do we create ladders for communities and individuals to climb into the middle class.” He said he wants to create a “virtuous cycle” to sweep up all workers and lift wages.

**On November: **Obama denied that the November midterm elections will be a referendum on the economy, though he did say the choice is between recovery with the Democrats and regressive policies with the Republicans.

**Small businesses: **The president again pilloried Republicans for holding up a bill of small business tax cuts and funding to gin up lending to small businesses. It has languished in the upper chamber since June. He praised by name Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), retiring this year, for saying he will cross the aisle and vote for the bill, giving it the 60 votes it needs to overcome a Republican filibuster.

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