- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Facing largely adoring crowds far from Washington, President Barack Obama on Thursday asked Americans to back his far-reaching economic and health policies, but warned them not to expect too much from him or the federal government. With many Republicans and even some Democrats in Congress resisting his budget plans, Obama went into full campaign mode in California, using television, friendly audiences and his massive e-mail list to counter his critics.

Without naming names, he mocked Republican officials who call his plan too costly even though they presided over huge deficits while they controlled Congress and the White House.

“Where have you been?” he said to several hundred people at a raucous town-hall meeting in Los Angeles. “What have you been doing?”

In his second California town hall in as many days, Obama mixed cockiness with humility.

He told Americans not to expect “something for nothing” from their government. Improvements to the economy and health care will take time and require unusually large deficits for a while, he said.

“Nothing is free,” he said. Responding to a woman’s complaint about cuts in jobs and salaries for teachers in California, Obama urged people not to ask the federal and state governments to cut taxes and improve services at the same time.

“At some point you’ve got to make some choices,” he told the crowd, which loudly cheered him repeatedly.

Obama also asked the country for patience and forbearance.

“We are not always going to be right,” he said. “And I don’t want everybody disappointed if we make a mistake.”

The important question, he said, is “are we moving in the right direction” and is he keeping his main campaign promises.

Obama also announced fresh aid to struggling homeowners in California.

He said California was receiving $145 million to help communities hardest hit by the home foreclosure crisis. He said the money would be used to buy up and rehabilitate vacant homes, and provide loans to poorer and middle-income families to help with home assistance.

He announced a new Web site to help people around the nation:https://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/.

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