President Obama: Economy improves but work still to be done

President Barack Obama said last week that while the country has begun to recover from the financial crisis, “we are not yet where we need to be.”

“We need to grow faster,” Obama said. “We need more good-paying jobs. We need more broad-based prosperity. We need more ladders of opportunity for people who are currently poor but want to get into the middle class … The trends that have taken hold over the past few decades — of a winner-take-all economy where a few do better and better and better while everybody else just treads water or loses ground — those trends have been made worse by the recession. That’s what we should be focused on.”

Obama said the budget passed by Congress will ultimately determine whether the country can “make the investments necessary” to attract lucrative jobs and skilled workers. He also advocated against cuts to education that could lead to cost-cutting measures in infrastructure development and research.

Obama also said that while the country’s deficits are falling at the fastest rate since World War II, the country will still face some long-term budget challenges as the U.S. population continues to age and increase their use of healthcare services.

“I do believe we should cut out programs that we don’t need,” Obama said. “We need to fix ones that aren’t working the way they’re supposed to or have outlived their initial mission. We’ve got to make government faster and more efficient.”

The president called on Congress to end the sequester and replace it with a “sensible budget” that is financially feasible and funds investments in education, research and infrastructure.

“Congress’ most fundamental job is passing a budget,” Obama said. “And Congress needs to get it done without triggering another crisis, without shutting down our government, or worse — threatening not to pay this country’s bills. After all the progress that we’ve made over these last four and a half years, the idea of reversing that progress because of an unwillingness to compromise or because of some ideological agenda is the height of irresponsibility. It’s not what the American people need right now.”

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