Obama defends spending, blames slowing economy on ‘bad decisions in Washington’

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President Obama, offering what is likely a preview of his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, blamed this week’s disappointing economic news – U.S. gross domestic product shrunk unexpectedly in the fourth quarter of 2012 – on “bad decisions in Washington.”

The president, speaking in his weekly radio and Internet address, defended the overall economy and warned that too much focus on cutting government spending would backfire.

“We all agree that it’s critical to cut unnecessary spending. But we can’t just cut our way to prosperity,” he said. “It hasn’t worked in the past, and it won’t work today. It could slow down our recovery. It could weaken our economy. And it could cost us jobs — now, and in the future.

“What we need instead is a balanced approach; an approach that says let’s cut what we can’t afford but let’s make the investments we can’t afford to live without. Investments in education and infrastructure, research and development — the things that will help America compete for the best jobs and new industries.”

The president’s remarks come in the wake of Wednesday’s news that the American economy shrunk by .1 percent in the last quarter of 2012 – a contraction that Democrats increasingly are blaming on the Republican Party’s “austerity politics.”

Republicans have focused on reining in government spending since retaking the House in 2010, arguing that government bailouts, stimulus projects and higher taxes are strangling the economy.

Democrats contend the economy would have been even worse without the government spending, and they want to keep priming the pump.

In his Saturday remarks, Mr. Obama defended the overall health of the economy.

“We began this year with economists and business leaders saying that we are poised to grow in 2013. And there are real signs of progress:  Home prices are starting to climb again. Car sales are at a five-year high. Manufacturing is roaring back. Our businesses created 2.2 million jobs last year. And we just learned that our economy created more jobs over the last few months than economists originally thought,” he said.

“But this week, we also received the first estimate of America’s economic growth over the last few months. And it reminded us that bad decisions in Washington can get in the way of our economic progress.”

The president said 2013 would be a year of “solid growth,” if Washington could put a stop to “self-inflicted wounds.”

Hear the president’s weekly address here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

 

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