- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

“I can’t print money,” President Obama said at a California town hall Thursday when urging patience from taxpayers anxious about the economy and the American International Group bonus debacle.

One of Mr. Obama’s campaign volunteers asked a question about what he wants done and said they are excited to help his agenda, and the president responded by asking them to temper their expectations.

He used as examples the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and “this AIG bonus business.”

“We are moving systematically to bring about change, [but] the change we bring has to be matched by a sense of responsibility,” he said. “I didn’t draw up these AIG contracts, my White House didn’t, but it’s my responsibility to fix the system.”

He added that AIG must be saved because if the banks are insolvent the entire economy would shut down.

“We’ve got to work through this huge mess,” he said. “It’s not going to be pretty, people are going to be frustrated and we are going to get it done. It’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Mr. Obama urged people to pay attention to the debates in Washington — at the same rate they focused on the election debates.

He said it’s important for people to keep him accountable that the investments in education, health care and energy are the right ones.

“Because, again, we’re going to have some tough choices to make. I can’t just keep on — I can’t print money,” the president said. “I don’t want everybody disappointed if we make a mistake here and there. The important point is are we moving in the right direction, are we generally being consistent with our campaign promises?”

Mr. Obama said he would fight for the middle class and the he wants voters to four years from now judge that he worked hard and think, “The guy … may not have gotten everything perfect but we are moving in the right direction.”

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