Obama on the Record: News Conference on the Economy

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Please have a seat.

Good evening. Before I take questions from the correspondents I want to give everyone who’s watching tonight an update on the steps we’re taking to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.

It’s important to remember that this crisis didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t result from any one action or decision. It took many years and many failures to lead us here, and it will take many months and many different solutions to lead us out. There are no quick fixes, and there are no silver bullets.

That’s why we’ve put in place a comprehensive strategy designed to attack this crisis on all fronts. It’s a strategy to create jobs, to help responsible homeowners, to restart lending, and to grow our economy over the long term. And we’re beginning to see signs of progress.

The first step we took was to pass a recovery plan to jumpstart job creation and put money in people’s pockets. This plan has already saved the jobs of teachers and police officers. It’s creating construction jobs to rebuild roads and bridges, and yesterday I met with a man whose company is reopening a factory outside of Pittsburgh that’s rehiring workers to build some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world. And this plan will provide a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families that will appear in people’s paychecks by April 1st.

The second step we took was to launch a plan to stabilize the housing market and help responsible homeowners stay in their homes. This plan is one reason that mortgage interest rates are now at near-historic lows. We’ve already seen a jump in refinancing of some mortgages, as homeowners take advantage of lower rates, and every American should know that up to 40 percent of all mortgages are now eligible for refinancing. This is the equivalent of another tax cut. And we’re also beginning to see signs of increased sales and stabilizing home prices for the first time in a very long time.

The third part of our strategy is to restart the flow of credit to families and businesses. To that end, we’ve launched a program designed to support the market for more affordable auto loans, student loans, and small business loans –- a program that’s already securitized more of this lending in the last week than in the last four months combined. Yesterday, Secretary Geithner announced a new plan that will partner government resources with private investment to buy up the assets that are preventing our banks from lending money. And we will continue to do whatever is necessary in the weeks ahead to ensure the banks Americans depend on have the money they need to lend even if the economy gets worse.

Finally, the most critical part of our strategy is to ensure that we do not return to an economic cycle of bubble and bust in this country. We know that an economy built on reckless speculation, inflated home prices, and maxed-out credit cards does not create lasting wealth. It creates the illusion of prosperity, and it’s endangered us all.

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