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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: President Obama is holding a press conference right now on the economy. What to do to get people buying things again. And, most importantly, how to get people back to work. One thing he did today was name a new top economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, who was Mr. Obama’s economic adviser in his campaign. The president blamed the Bush administration for what he called a “huge hole.”
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: These policies of cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, of stripping away regulations that protect consumers, running up a record surplus to a record deficit — those policies finally culminated in the worst financial crisis we’ve had since the Great Depression.
The president just moments ago at the White House. With us live from our Washington studio is Marketplace’s Scott Tong. Good morning, Scott.
SCOTT TONG: Good morning, Steve.
CHIOTAKIS: How did the president describe how his administration is going to dig the country out of this hole?
TONG: Well he reiterated what he’s been saying all week. The president wants to spend money to build roads and infrastructure — $50 billion worth of money — and he’s proposing to give businesses two big tax breaks. Number one to do research and development. And number two to let companies that invest in new equipment, write those costs off immediately instead of over several years. Now, as far as his narrative, the president’s said more than once that he inherited an economy that was “tipping over a cliff.” And what he did is came in and help prevent a depression. He said 750,000 jobs have been created this year. Not enough, but he says his administration is moving the country in the right direction, Steve.
CHIOTAKIS: And how doable will those programs be to get through, Scott?
TONG: Well, this is Washington and there’s an election going on, so not easy. The president said next month he anticipates a battle with Republicans over tax cuts. The White House wants to extend them for what they consider the middle class, but not for the wealthiest.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And what I’ve got is the Republicans holding middle class tax relief hostage because they’re insisting that we’ve got to give tax relief to millionaires and billionaires to the tune of about $100,000 per millionaire.
Now, during the question, Steve, the president denied that his administration has responded late to this crisis, as some have said. He said, “We are hardly Johnny-come-latelys to this recession.” And finally, he also talked up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was created by the new financial reform law. He said it would help consumers, but he was cagey on who he will nominate to head it up.
CHIOTAKIS: But he did mention Elizabeth Warren by name, as did reports.
TONG: That he did. But he said we’ll keep you posted on who we nominate.
CHIOTAKIS: That’s right. That’s right. To be continued, as you said. All right, Marketplace’s Scott Tong reporting from Washington. Scott, thanks.
TONG: You’re welcome.
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