On a chilly morning, President Obama came to the Rose Garden Friday morning to try to offer reassurance in the wake of both the Fort Hood shootings and dismal economic news, suggesting — regarding the latter issue — that he was considering even more economic stimulus measures.
Offering what he called an “update” on the Fort Hood tragedy, the president said he met with FBI Director Robert Mueller as well as the leaders of relevant agencies “to discuss their ongoing investigation into what caused one individual to turn his gun on fellow servicemen and -women. We don’t know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.”
The president then mentioned the “families, friends and an entire nation grieving right now for the valiant men and women who came under attack yesterday in one of the worst mass shootings ever to take place on an American military base.”
He announced that from this morning until Veterans Day, the flags at the White House and other federal buildings will be flown at half-staff, what he called “a modest tribute to those who lost their lives even as many were preparing to risk their lives for their country, and it’s also a recognition of the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect our safety and uphold our values.”
The president said, “we honor their service, we stand in awe of their sacrifice, and we pray for the safety of those who fight and for the families of those who have fallen.”
Turning to this morning’s news that unemployment has risen to 10.2%, the president also announced that he signed into law a bill that he said “will help grow our economy, save and create new jobs, and provide relief to struggling families and businesses,” the need for which was “made clear by the jobs report that we received this morning.”
The bill, he said, “extends unemployment benefits for up to 20 additional weeks, with the longest extension for the hardest-hit states.”
The money won’t “just put money into the people’s pockets who are receiving the benefits,” he said. “Economists tell us that when these benefits are spent on food or clothing or rent, it actually strengthens our economy and creates new jobs.”
The bill will also cut taxes for struggling businesses and extend the tax credit for all homebuyers through April of next year.
The president said that he was considering further stimulus measures, with his economic team “looking at ideas such as additional investments in our aging roads and bridges, incentives to encourage families and businesses to make buildings more energy efficient, additional tax cuts for businesses to create jobs, additional steps to increase the flow of credit to small businesses, and an aggressive agenda to promote exports and help American manufacturers sell their products around the world.”
The president made sure to underline that “we lost fewer jobs than we did last month,” and said when he first came to office his goal “was to stop the free-fall that caused our economy to shrink at an alarming rate. We’ve succeeded in achieving that goal, as our economy grew last quarter for the first time in a year. But history tells us that job growth always lags behind economic growth, which is why we have to continue to pursue measures that will create new jobs.”
The president promised “that I won’t let up until the Americans who want to find work can find work, and until all Americans can earn enough to raise their families and keep their businesses open.”