Obama on the Record: State of the Economy

Obama on the Record: State of the Economy

We pledged to avoid the trade barriers and protectionism that hurts us all in the end. And we decided to meet again in the fall to gauge our progress and take additional steps if necessary.

So that’s where we’ve been, that’s what we’ve done in the last three months. All of these actions — the Recovery Act, the bank capitalization program, the housing plan, the strengthening of the non-bank credit market, the auto plan, and our work at the G20 — all have been necessary pieces of the recovery puzzle. They’ve been designed to increase aggregate demand to get credit flowing again to families and businesses and to help families and businesses ride out the storm. And taken together, these actions are starting to generate signs of economic progress.

Because of our recovery plan, schools and police departments have cancelled planned layoffs; clean energy companies and construction companies are re-hiring workers to build everything from energy-efficient windows to new roads and highways. Our housing plan has helped lead to a spike in the number of homeowners who are taking advantage of historically-low mortgage rates by refinancing, which is like putting a $2,000 tax cut in your pocket. Our program to support the market for auto loans and student loans has started to unfreeze this market and securitize more of this lending in the last few weeks. And small businesses are seeing a jump in loan activity for the first time in months.

Now, this is all welcome and encouraging news. It does not mean the hard times are over; 2009 will continue to be a difficult year for America’s economy, and obviously, most difficult for those who’ve lost their jobs. The severity of this recession will cause more job loss, more foreclosures, and more pain before it ends. The market will continue to rise and fall. Credit is still not flowing nearly as easily as it should. The process for restructuring AIG and the auto companies will involve difficult and sometimes unpopular choices; we are not finished yet on that front. And all of this means that there’s much more work to be done. But all of this also means that you can continue to expect an unrelenting, unyielding, day-by-day effort from this administration to fight for economic recovery on all fronts.

But even as we continue to clear away the wreckage and address the immediate crisis, it is my firm belief that our next task, beginning now, is to make sure such a crisis never happens again. (Applause.) Even as we clean up balance sheets and get credit flowing again, even as people start spending and businesses start hiring — all that’s going to happen — we have to realize that we cannot go back to the bubble-and-bust economy that led us to this point.