U.S. President Barack Obama's top economic advisor says while the economy is getting better, it faces a long road to recovery. National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers says there are signs the U.S. economy is improving. He says economic statistics are mixed, noting that not long ago, they all pointed downward.
"We have seen some more mixed statistics after a period when there were no positive statistics to be found," said Summers. "But it is a long road, and it is going to take time."
During an appearance on the NBC television program Meet the Press, Summers defended the administration's efforts to help the financial sector. He put the focus on reform.
"The president is pushing very hard for a very strong program of regulation that is going to correct many of the mistakes that were made last time around."
Earlier on ABC's This Week program, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was asked if the government might have to take over some troubled banks. He said they may need more help from Washington, but indicated a direct takeover is unlikely.
"I believe we will not have to deal with nationalization," said Emanuel, "and that is not the goal nor do we think that is the right policy objective."
President Obama told reporters covering the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago that there are limits to what government can and will do to bailout the financial sector. "I am not going to simply put taxpayer money into a black hole where you are not going to see results or some exit strategies," said the president, "so the taxpayers ultimately are relieved of these burdens."
Anger about the number of tax dollars already committed to help financial institutions helped spark protests around the United States last Wednesday, the deadline for Americans to reconcile their tax bill for 2008.
Former Congressman Richard Armey, a fiscal conservative who was once the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, backed the tax-day demonstrations. He told Meet the Press that Americans are worried about the long-term costs of the Obama administration's economic proposals. "The fact of the matter is there are real doubts about him," he said.
Armey said there is a deep concern that large tax increases will be needed to pay for the expansion of government services and programs advocated by the president.