- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2009

After a week of rough economic news, President Obama on Saturday gave a pep talk to America, using his weekly radio address to tell them he understands their hardships and to tick off the steps he’s prodded government to take.

“We will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead,” Mr. Obama said. “But I also believe that we will get through this — that if we act swiftly and boldly and responsibly, the United States of America will emerge stronger and more prosperous than it was before.”

Mr. Obama also bragged about what he said were the brakes he’s applying to spending, saying that within 10 years non-defense discretionary spending will be a smaller part of the economy than any time in nearly half a century.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 436 points during the week, and the number of jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 rose to 4.4 million, putting unemployment at more than 8 percent.

The president said he looks beyond those statistics to the people who have lost those jobs, and listed off a series of government actions he’s pushed for in his less than two months in office:

• New rules to allow for easier refinancing and to push lenders to lower mortgage payments for those who are facing foreclosure.

• The $787 billion stimulus bill, which he said will meet his goal of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs in two years.

• A health care summit that, the president said, will spur the ideas that will lead to coverage for all Americans.

In the Republican radio address Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said his party will work with Mr. Obama on health care, but said they will also fight to keep government from running the system.

“I’m concerned that if the government steps in it will eventually push out the private health care plans millions of Americans enjoy today,” Mr. Blunt said. “This could cause your employer to simply stop offering coverage, hoping the government will pick up the slack.”

Mr. Blunt, the former No. 2 Republican in the House, has said he will seek the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Christopher S. “Kit” Bond, Missouri Republican, in the 2010 election.

In his address Mr. Obama did not miss his chance to blame his predecessor, President Bush, saying he “inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit” when he took office, and also has had to cope with budget gimmicks the former president used.

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