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Obama to Highlight Financial Progress

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Kent Klein
— President Barack Obama will speak Monday about the progress made in the five years since the meltdown of the U.S. financial markets.  The president will make his case in anticipation of some tough battles with Congress.

Obama will go to the White House Rose Garden to highlight the recovery of the U.S. economy in the five years since the Lehman Brothers global financial firm declared bankruptcy, accelerating the onset of a financial crisis.

After taking office in January 2009, President Obama moved to stabilize the financial industry, committing government money to bail out some failing banks, as well as the three major U.S. automakers.

A slow, steady, partial recovery followed.

Gene Sperling, the director of the president's National Economic Council, says a new White House report shows the president's policies were largely responsible for turning around the failing economy. "The president undertook a series of bold, unprecedented and politically difficult measures in 2009 that have performed better than virtually anyone at the time predicted," he said.

Opposition Republicans in Congress, however, say Obama focused too much time and energy on pushing through his health care proposal, often called "Obamacare," and too little on creating jobs.

The president and Republican lawmakers are expected to wage legislative battles in the coming weeks over a federal budget, which is needed to keep the government running, and a debt ceiling, needed to allow the government to continue borrowing money.

Sperling says the inability of Congress, especially the Republican-led House of Representatives, to compromise and pass legislation is the biggest obstacle to continued economic recovery. "The largest concern has been really over the ability of the House of Representatives to be able to work out a reasonable budget outcome without using the threat of a default as a tool or tactic in budget negotiations," he said.

Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, are threatening to vote down a debt ceiling increase unless it is accompanied by more cuts in the federal deficit.

“For the sake of our economy, we will continue to do everything we can to repeal, dismantle and defund Obamacare. Another important part of our plan for jobs is reining in the massive deficits and debt that is hurting our economy and jeopardizing the American dream for our kids and grandkids," he said.

The president, on ABC-TV's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," again said he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling. “The deficit has been cut in half since I came into office. It is continuing on a trend line of further reductions," he said. "If we want to do more deficit reduction, I have already put out a budget that says ‘let us do it.’”

In addition to Monday's Rose Garden speech, Obama will visit an auto manufacturing plant in the midwestern city of Kansas City, Missouri on Friday, to highlight the auto industry's recovery.

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