May 13th, 2010
04:38 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama touts economic gains but warns of tough deficit decisions

President Obama spoke to workers at a manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York Thursday.

President Obama spoke to workers at a manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York Thursday.

Buffalo, New York (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Thursday that economic growth will continue next year, but he warned the nation will face hard choices as it tackles the federal deficit.

In a town hall appearance at a manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York, Obama prompted applause when he declared: "We can say beyond a shadow of a doubt today we are headed in the right direction."

"Next year's going to be better than this year," Obama said.

At the same time, Obama warned of tough choices ahead as the nation faces its unsustainable deficit.

"The truth of the matter is that we're going to have to spend the next couple of years making some very hard decisions getting our deficit and spending under control," he said in response to a question about tax reform. "It's not going to be fun."

The visit was part of Obama's continuing "White House to Main Street" tour. He grabbed some wings for lunch at a local joint and then toured a metal fabrication plant, where he held a town-hall-style event to talk about the economy.

Buffalo suffers from one of the country's highest poverty rates, with nearly 30 percent of its population living at or below the poverty line.

The city has struggled in recent decades with the loss of industrial employers such as steel and auto-related manufacturers, but has weathered the most recent recession a little better than the nation overall.

The unemployment rate in Buffalo currently stands at 8.6 percent while the national average is 9.7 percent.

Poking fun at the political clamor of Washington, Obama said he liked escaping to places like Buffalo so he can hear the voices of the American people.

"No matter what the economists say, it's not a real recovery until people feel it in their own lives," he said.

Obama cited steps his administration has taken in response to the economic recession - including what he called unpopular ones such as bailing out banks and automakers - as necessary to bring about the growth and job creation of recent months.

He also heralded assistance to small businesses like Industrial Support Inc., the plant where his speech took place, noting the company received a loan via the stimulus bill that helped it weather the recession and buy new equipment.

In particular, Obama told how a woman at Duff's Famous Wings - where he had lunch - thanked him for the tax credits in the health care reform bill passed this year that help small businesses provide health insurance for workers.

"She offered me some of her wings ... but I had already ordered," the president joked.

In response to questions from the audience of more than 200 people, including plant employees and local officials, Obama said he wants to work with Congress to create a sustainable source of funding to improve the nation's highways, rail links, ports and other infrastructure.

He also reiterated his support for strengthening the education system. Known as a basketball and baseball fan, Obama made a rare hockey reference in the city considered a hockey town.

"We've got to make sure that our young people are trained and prepared for the future," Obama said. "I know Buffalo's a big hockey town. Now [pro hockey great Wayne] Gretzky wasn't your guy, but what did they used to say about Gretzky? ... He didn't think about where the puck was, he thought about where it was going to be."

Before his appearance, Obama also met privately with families of the 50 people killed in February 2009 when a Continental Connection commuter plane crashed while flying from Newark, New Jersey, to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Afterwards, he wore a red bracelet on his left wrist commemorating the victims of the crash.

The president has taken several trips as part of his White House to Main Street tour. Most recently he traveled to Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri during a multiple-stop trip.

Filed under: Economy • President Obama
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Chuckster

    You and your party of misfits are done and will be gone. I cannot wait until Nov. and 2012 to see the change. Can anyone say VIVA AMERICA!!!

    May 13, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    Bush and Cheney met secretly with big oil execs, and President Obama meets with real people. We are fortunate to have said "No!" to the arm of big business and the party of no regulations.

    May 13, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Alban

    Setting the stage for the largest tax increase in the history of the United States of America...VAT

    May 13, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    George Washington never told a lie and George Bush never told the truth. Thank God that those republican misfits are no longer destroying America. VIVA AMERICA! VIVA DEMOCRATS!

    May 13, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    The real misfits created the republican culture of corruption from 2001-2007 (until Democrats gained control of the house)

    May 13, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. truth

    How could he warn others for the deficit? It is HIM who causes that big deficit. Wait to see the deficit when his Health Care Reform Plan starts. Obama is detroying this country. He is spending this great country to bankrupt.

    May 13, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. ib

    Get ready middle income here comes your "change" that he promised. If your lucky you will have a little change left in your pockets.

    May 13, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. LacrosseMom (the real one)

    A couple of weeks ago Business Week had a great cover, showing President Obama shooting hoops, the caption read:

    "The Hot Hand: Obamanomics is working better than you think. Who says? Wall Street!" LOVE IT!

    We are IN Recovery, slowly but surely!

    VOTE NO IN NOvember for the Party of NO!

    May 13, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. LacrosseMom (the real one)


    Working Class & Middle Class Americans got a TAX break in 2009, with 47% of Americans paying no income tax!

    Where were the Teabaggers praising the cutting of taxes for the Working and Middle class folks?

    May 13, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "We can say beyond a shadow of a doubt today we are headed in the right direction."

    According to Rasmussen, 64 percent of American voters disagree with that statement.

    May 13, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. stevegee

    "Next year's going to be better than this year," Obama said.

    You bet it is - we're throwing out all the Democrats and replacing them with conservative patriots who embrace capitalism, freedom and liberty.

    Your socialist party is over Obama, start writing your memoirs.

    May 13, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Setting the stage for the largest tax increase in the history of the United States of America...VAT"

    Actually, what has set the stage for us someday witnessing the highest tax increases ever is the repeated tax cuts over the past several decades that have us now paying less in taxes than almost ever in our history. Check the historical tax rates during times like the 50' know, that magic time full of white picket fences, cross burnings and MCCarthyism that the GOP so desires to return us to. The highest bracket was paying something like 80-90%. Yes, 80-90%.

    May 13, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Anthony Beasley

    It's amazing how people get on here and talk about how government isn't the answer. But then blame a President that wasn't in office for something that really started almost 10 years ago. When people were saying how jobs were leaving, no one was outraged. Now you are blaming the President for a decision any private company can make at any time they really want to start hiring. You want less government for everyone else and more government to help you find a job. It's kind of like a cat being mad at a dog for barking. It makes no sense! Either stop complaining and be who you say you are. Or start focusing your anger to the real problem. But one thing is for sure, it ain't on here. And for some, they belong in Arizona- -The land of the new White Zion.

    May 13, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |

    I know that this President will make the right decisions to cut the deficit!!!!!!
    All you haters, wait and see........
    Even if the GOP takes back the house they will have to work!!!!!!
    America wants Immigration reform, and deficit reduction. Will the GOP help deliver?
    I do know that hopefully, if the DEMS stay in power, they will move on both these issues.

    May 13, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Tulsa

    LOL... Chuckster, you and the rest of the unpatriotic mob who call themselves Republicans are a very small minority.
    Thinking, intelligent folks are centrist which is exactly what this President is.
    You can lie about it all you want, but the policies of Mr. Obama would look centrist even to your conservative idol Ron Reagan.

    By the way, I don't have to wrap a flag around myself to be a loyal American citizen. To me, the flag is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Much like Christ taught us to pray in PRIVATE unless we be hypocrites, we should be good citizens by deeds, not disply. I pay my taxes, work every day and care for my family. I support the military and the organizations that help our veterans and their families. I vote. I believe that government is of, by and for the people and that politicians should work for us, not the other way around. I believe that if my candidate does not win (happens a lot here in Oklahoma) I will live with the person who is duly elected and work harder next election.

    To me, the most unpatriotic people in this country are the Fox "news" crowd. Not journalism, that's for sure. Not truth or fair and balanced either. Petty, unpatriotic bunch of liars and hypocrites.

    May 13, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Steve (the real one)

    LacrosseMom (the real one) May 13th, 2010 5:12 pm ET

    47% of Americans paying no income tax!
    You say that as if this was something to be proud of! P.S. I heard it ws 49%

    May 13, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Ken

    Higher taxes, higher inflation, and declining opportunity as this socialist accelerates his goal of "wealth redistribution" and "fairness". Too bad Obama slept through his world history classes.

    May 13, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. b o stinks

    here we go tax tax tax tax tax we are going to be taxed into socialism just watch closer and closer he gets to dictatorship

    May 13, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. Mark

    Obamacare killed any hopes of deficit reduction.

    Good luck speech maker in chief.

    May 13, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. pa mom

    @save america....are you kidding me, Obama who promised to transparency has hidden behind closed doors and brokered deals congress has yet to find in the many pages called Health Care.

    How much more can the 45% of this country who pays taxes, subsidize. How much more can businesses aford to give up? I do know jobs are not getting filled due to the additional burden of unemployment taxes and health care costs. All those who condone this president's spending have no clue what it will do to jobs or the cost of goods/services. God help retirees....the government is taking from them.

    May 13, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    Sniffit May 13th, 2010 5:14 pm ET
    Actually, what has set the stage for us someday witnessing the highest tax increases ever is the repeated tax cuts over the past several decades that have us now paying less in taxes than almost ever in our history
    So are you saying overspending by BOTH parties(yours and mine, NOT just the GOP) have nothing to do with setting the stage for a VAT? You make it sound as if tax cuts was the sole reason. That is seriously dishonest!

    May 13, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  22. Michael

    Most Americans have had a very tough year, losing jobs, homes, education, opportunities, and bright futures.
    Meanwhile a very few have made out like bandits, funneling all the resources lost (and so desperately needed) by millions of hurting Americans into their own glutted yet still greedy pockets.
    Maybe they need to take an interest in the survival of the society whose pain has showered them with so much luxury. Maybe they need to share responsibly whether they like it or not: an emergency 90% windfall tax on 2009 profits over 10% of investment would be a great idea in my book.

    May 13, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  23. Louis

    Just heard the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars has reached one TRILLION dollars. Add in the cost of Vietnam and all the other insane defense budget expenditures, foreign policy boondoggles, needless farm subsidies, and pork barrel spending, and there you have it– leaders of both parties have taken a once great nation and squandered it's resources until it is on the brink of bankruptcy. History will hold them accountable for the ruin of our beloved country. All we can do is weep.

    May 13, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  24. JF

    Make right the wrongs that were done in 2005

    May 13, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. D.

    If these are "gains" who will count our loses?

    May 13, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
1 2