President Barack Obama Talks Economy, Urges Passage of Small Business Bill

In Rose Garden remarks, Obama tells a skeptical public that he's in control.

ByJake Tapper
August 30, 2010, 5:44 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2010— -- In a hastily arranged event in the White House this afternoon, President Obama tried to convince the public that he's on top of the economic crisis, but he offered little in terms of new ideas to tackle the problem and his message of reassurance may have been undercut by technical snafus.

Obama said his economic team will have fresh ideas in coming weeks, and he scolded congressional Republicans, saying they need to stop obstructing legislation that the president says will help small businesses create jobs through tax cuts and a $30 billion lending initiative.

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"Holding this bill hostage is directly detrimental to our economic growth, so I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade," Obama said, arguing that Republicans are acting for purely partisan reasons.

Some economists today seemed to support the need to help provide incentives for small businesses to hire, but none ABC News spoke withh were confident that the president's legislation was much of an answer to the nation's economic problems.

"It's a lot easier when you can pull out a theory book and fill the prescription like a doctor and say, 'Here, you're fixed,'" said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. "There is just nothing out there that allows us to do that right now."

The government has already spent trillions, and the White House says its hands are tied on any big moves. With midterm elections approaching rapidly, Democrats are not willing to spend because of public concerns about the debt.

But others argue that could be a Catch-22 -- with no action, there's less likely to be a recovery, and Democrats will face voters' wrath.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs today said the administration will soon roll out other targeted measures to spur the economy and encourage hiring, and the president mentioned extending some of the Bush tax cuts that were due to expire this year, increasing spending on clean energy and also rebuilding more roads and highways.

But economists say the problem now isn't policy, is public insecurity. Fear itself keeps consumers from spending and keeps businesses from hiring.

Instead of providing that needed reassurance, today's event could be seen as a metaphor for the administration's struggle to get a hold of the problem.

Obama's Rose Garden comments came at the start of a week full of issues dedicated to mostly to foreign policy, and today, technical snafus muddled his remarks, as though symbolizing the president's struggle to get his economic message out.

While at the podium, the president's microphone was accidentally cut off, and a plane overhead temporarily snuffed out his voice.

"How are we doing on sound, guys?" Obama said to the technical staff. "Can you guys still hear us? OK, let me try this one more time."

So far, the president has failed to convince consumers, investors and businesses that the worst is over.

"It's very difficult to get your message through like that when the economy continues to suffer the way it is," said Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo.

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