EDITORIAL - Financial press: Obama tries to build confidence in his costly moves

Written by Susan Mannella on .

President Barack Obama's televised press conference Tuesday was an attempt to convince the public that his economic restoration program is well-conceived, working and worth supporting.

It's hard to say if it worked. Mr. Obama was matter-of-fact, articulate as usual and confident. He led with an update on his comprehensive strategy focused on job creation and preservation, a revived mortgage market, a resumption of normal lending and an end -- he hoped -- to future economic bubbles and downturns.

He made it clear that as he deals with the country's painful economic problems, he will not retreat from his major transformative goals in health care, energy, education and even balancing the budget. His best line came in a response he gave on prospects for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians when he stated his firm belief in persistence as an approach to problems.

The media's queries, however, did not seem to bite into what is one concern at the moment for the American public. That is whether the billions of dollars that so far have been dished out to banks and financial houses will be enough to rescue the lending institutions for the good of the country and not just for the executives who run them.

On the matter of public confidence in the government's ability to deal with failing financial organizations, the president reiterated his administration's call for new authority to take control of firms like AIG when the public stands to be harmed. Mr. Obama said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. enables the government to step in after a bank collapse and deal with the fallout, but no such option exists in the case of a giant insurance company like AIG.

The range of questions for Mr. Obama and amount of time spent on answers made it clear that the economy is the nation's prime focus. The president was not asked about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the drug violence in Mexico and U.S. dealings with China were dealt with in passing. What makes the Chinese nervous about the American economy and causes them to look at alternatives to holding dollars is the fact that Mr. Obama's government is printing dollars at a fast pace, reducing their value and risking inflation.

It's possible that this press conference represented an end to Mr. Obama's honeymoon period with the American people and the media. Americans want to trust him still, but as time goes on they will want to see an economic turnaround in exchange for their trillions of hard-earned dollars.


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