- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that he believes there are signs the public’s confidence is growing in the Obama administration’s ability to tackle the financial crisis.

Biden said that he and the president have no doubt that the country will overcome its economic problems. And he feels the recent uptick in the stock markets is a result of the “Obama factor.” He said people are starting to understand President Barack Obama has a plan.

Biden, who was in Little Rock, Ark., on Saturday night to help Sen. Blanche Lincoln kick off her re-election bid, said he believes the administration is on track to overcome the financial crisis.

“There is no doubt in our minds and there is no doubt in the president’s mind that in fact we will overcome this. We will climb out of this hole,” Biden told The Associated Press in an interview. “It just takes some real perseverance and you’ve got to have a guy as gutsy as the president who’s willing to make some really tough decisions.”

Biden said he believes the economy is also beginning to show some signs of hope.

“Consumer confidence is slightly up. The market is slightly up,” Biden said. “It’ll go down again, but the people are beginning to figure out that the president’s got a plan and he believes we can work our way through this.”

Biden’s comments came after the stock market’s gains on Friday capped Wall Street’s best week since November.

Biden also urged passage of the Obama administration’s budget, saying that it would help restore confidence internationally in the United States’ ability to tackle the financial crisis.

“Once it’s in place, you’re going to see a response not just from the United States but around the world that these guys mean business, they know what they’re doing and guess what? They can get this done,” he said.

Biden also defended the administration’s budget proposals, which have faced skepticism from both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, the Democratic chairman of the Budget Committee, called the track of future deficits “unsustainable.”

Biden said he believed the Obama administration would address Conrad’s concerns by working to lower the costs of Medicare and Social Security, and by eventually taking on a reform of the tax structure. But Biden said he believed any “significant” tax reform is probably two years away.

“I think, for example, that corporations should be willing to give up the loopholes for a lower tax bracket. It would save the taxpayers a lot of money and corporate America would be more competitive,” he said.

Biden said the president’s budget helps lay the foundation for more growth in this country that doesn’t rely on any “bubbles.”

“If we’re going to grow this economy from this point out, once we dig ourselves out of this hole we’re in, it can’t be based on any more bubbles,” Biden said. “There are no economic bubbles on the horizon. So we have a chance here, and I’d argue a necessity, to reset the agenda and to actually lay down a foundation for the future economic growth of this country that’s not based upon an unsustainable bubble.”

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