President Obama to CEOs: 'We've Been a Bit Lazy'

(Charles Dharapak/AP Photo)

For the second time in as many months, President Obama has taken the nation that elected him president to task for its own lackadaisical economic performance on the global stage.

Obama told a group of CEOs today that the United States has gotten “lazy” and that America lost its hunger in promoting itself in a global marketplace.

“We’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades.  We’ve kind of taken for granted — ‘Well, people would want to come here’ — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America,” he told the CEOs who are gathered on the sidelines of the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, which the United States is hosting this year in Hawaii.

“I think it’s important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world and there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity — our stability, our openness, our innovative free market culture,” he said.

Last September, in an interview with an Orlando, Fla., TV station, Obama made similar remarks, saying, “This a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. … We need to get back on track.”

To get back on track, Obama is using the APEC meetings and meetings with members of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership to try to stimulate the U.S. economy and create jobs.  Members of the TPP will include nations from Australia and New Zealand to Chile and Peru.  And, for the first time, Japan has also agreed to participate in the planning of the new partnership.

“There are still plenty of details to work out, but we are confident that we can do so,” Obama said. “It is an ambitious goal, but we are optimistic that we can get it done.”