President Obama is “Gratified” by GDP Growth, Commends House Democrats for Rolling Out Health Care Bill

By Britt

Oct 29, 2009 12:55pm

ABC News' Karen Travers reports: President Obama said this morning that he was "gratified" with the new GDP figures announced today but cautioned that the economy still has a long way to go before a full recovery. Mr. Obama tied his administration's push for health care reform to strengthening small businesses to an audience that included members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which has been sparring with the Obama Administration recently on issues like health care and climate change), the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and small business owners and organizations from across the country. "We've come a long way since the first three months of 2009, when our economy shrunk by an alarming 6.4 percent," Mr. Obama said. "In fact, the 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter is the largest three-month gain we have seen in two years." The president said this data was "an affirmation that this recession is abating and the steps we've taken have made a difference." But Mr. Obama also struck a cautious tone and said there is a "long way to go" still. "While this report today represents real progress, the benchmark I use to measure the strength of our economy is not just whether our GDP is growing, but whether we are creating jobs, whether families are having an easier time paying their bills, whether our businesses are hiring and doing well," he said. President Obama connected the need for health care reform to strengthening small businesses. "Few have a bigger stake in what happens than all of you. Few have a bigger stake than the men and women who own a small business, work at a small business, or rely on someone who does. Few have a bigger stake in what happens because few are struggling more under the status quo," he said. President Obama commended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus for releasing its health care reform bill today, calling it a "critical milestone." He said the bill is "fully paid for" and will "reduce the deficit in the long term."
Reaching out to his audience, the president said the legislation would benefit millions of small businesses and "is being written with the interests of Americans like you and your employees in mind." Mr. Obama emphasized that while some businesses ("of a certain size") will have to contribute to their employees' health care costs if they do not provide coverage, about 90 percent of small businesses would be exempt. "So, if your business is anything like the vast majority of small businesses out there, this requirement simply won't apply to you – because I don't think it's fair to impose a penalty on small businesses," he said. -Karen Travers

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