After another week of bad economic news, President Barack Obama is
asking Americans to back his sweeping plan to fix the economy. The
president used his weekly address to rally support for his initiatives
to reform health care, create jobs, unfreeze the credit market and help
homeowners avoid foreclosure.
President Obama started his weekly talk by acknowledging the latest discouraging numbers.
we learned that the economy lost another 651,000 jobs in the month of
February, which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession
to 4.4 million. The unemployment rate has now surpassed 8 percent, the highest
rate in a quarter-century," he said.
But Mr. Obama said he took
office in January knowing that the crisis could not be solved easily or
quickly. And he expressed optimism that with the right corrective
actions the U.S. will emerge stronger and more prosperous than before.
president outlined what he has done in the past week to restore the
housing market, including implementing his plan to let lenders work
with borrowers to refinance or restructure mortgages, which he says
will help as many as four million homeowners avoid foreclosure.
Wednesday, the Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban
Development released the guidelines that lenders will use for lowering
mortgage payments. This plan is now at work," he said.
said his Consumer and Business Lending Initiative will generate as much
as $1 trillion of new lending, to unfreeze credit markets and
stabilize the financial markets.
The president also promoted his
initiative to reform the U.S. health care system, which is the most
expensive in the world and leaves an estimated 48 million people
without insurance. He hosted a health care summit on Thursday to
solicit ideas on how to fix the system.
"Our ideas and opinions
about how to achieve this reform will vary, but our goal must be the
same: quality, affordable health care for every American that no longer
overwhelms the budgets of families, businesses and our government," he
Opposition Republicans have complained that Mr. Obama's
proposed federal budget, and especially his ideas for reforming health
care, are too costly. In the weekly Republican response, Congressman
Roy Blunt said one plan the president is considering, giving Americans
the option of buying medical coverage through a government plan, could
do more harm than good.
"I am concerned that if the government
steps in it will eventually push out the private health care plans
millions of Americans enjoy today. This could cause your employer to
simply stop offering coverage, hoping the government will pick up the
slack," said Blunt.
Mr. Obama also said his administration will overhaul the way the government hands out private contracts, to reduce waste.