Obama: US economy has 'core strengths'

AP News
Posted: Nov 23, 2009 7:11 PM

President Barack Obama said Monday the nation's economy is in good shape for the long term thanks to "core strengths" such as its universities, its innovation and a dynamic workforce.

But he also noted again how 2009 has been a sobering year for millions of newly unemployed people.

"We cannot sit back and be satisfied given the extraordinarily high unemployment levels that we've seen," Obama said in wrapping up a pre-Thanksgiving session with his Cabinet as other senior aides packed the meeting room. "We have only taken the first step in curing our economy."

The unemployment rate stands at a 26-year high of 10.2 percent, overshadowing more upbeat indicators such as a return in growth of the overall economy.

Obama told reporters that his Cabinet discussion included matters of national security and the upcoming budget, but the emphasis was on job creation. He recapped both his administration's efforts to help stabilize the financial sector and the web of challenges that have slowed an overall recovery.

"Something that our economic team emphasized is that there are core strengths to the American economy that will put us in good stead over the long term," Obama said. He said the key is bridging that gap toward a more prosperous time and promised he won't let up "until businesses are investing again and businesses are hiring again."

Obama's line about the underlying "core strengths" of the economy offered echoes of a phrase he mocked during last year's presidential campaign. As the financial sector was collapsing in September 2008, Republican nominee John McCain assured Americans that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," a statement Obama quickly used as evidence that the Arizona senator was out of touch. President George W. Bush had also been known for using that phrase.

Sitting between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama told his Cabinet to get some rest over the Thanksgiving holiday. But he said he also reminded his advisers that they have the chance to help millions of struggling people, and "we need to take advantage of that."

The president took no questions and did not respond to a reporter's query about the president's Afghanistan war review.