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

Obama touts economic gains but warns of tough deficit decisions

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Abe

    I don't believe a word he says. He never tells the truth. He doesn't make difficult decisions just political ones.

    May 13, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  2. Alex in Wisconsin

    When President Obama finally does make the hard decisions, I'm betting money that the GOP will criticize him for every cut he makes.

    May 13, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. haren

    Fox news lately talking about mistake of 115 billion dollars in health care cost from CBO's budget.
    How come they were silance when bush milead in medicare prescription drug bill cost of 200 billion?

    May 13, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  4. JP

    It's like maxing out on your credit line, and saying now we have to do something. Here is an idea, print money, it's easy.

    May 13, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  5. Len (Colorado)

    Folks, please educate yourself. The Bush Tax cuts helped the upper 2%. Ask Rush Limbaugh how much he paid in taxes. His annual income is 37 million dollars a year.

    USA report yesterday, income tax for 2009 was the lowest since 1950.

    May 13, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  6. Rickster

    The United States posted an $82.69 billion deficit in April, nearly four times the $20.91 billion shortfall registered in April 2009 and the largest on record for that month, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

    It was more than twice the $40-billion deficit that Wall Street economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast.
    And so Obama marches on in his effort to destroy America.

    May 13, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. Poser

    Defense, social security, and medicare represent the vast majority of our government spending. Some or all of these need to be cut and/or taxes need to be raised. If you do the math, it's just the plain ugly truth.

    For the Tea Party crowd, are you going to cut defense? Are you going to cut social security for yourself or your parents/grandparents? Are you going to cut medicare? If the answer to all of those is no, then you need to raise taxes. There is no other way.

    Both the Democrats and Republicans share the blame for the deficits and the debt. Those blaming President Obama alone need to go back and check their facts.

    We need to stop rewarding elected officials for telling us what we want to hear rather than what is correct. Tax cuts sound great on the campaign trail but they reduce revenue which ADDs to the deficit. We did that under the Bush administration. The debt exploded and our jobs went overseas. It was not a recipe for success and we're paying for it now in the unemployment lines (those same unemployed people aren't paying much in income taxes right now either).

    May 13, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. Albo58

    Oh yes, the President is correct by saying next year will be better than this year, but it will be because a lot of his allies in the Congress will be unemployed and he will have to govern from the center rather than the far left that he does today!

    May 13, 2010 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  9. JF

    Why are the governments so afraid to make the rich pay their just
    taxes. Do anyone not understand that until the people with much do
    much, things will never change. Why do rich people fill like the only thing they should do in life is have a good time. They are only
    rich because they have ways of getting money from the lower people.
    But they never what to put back.

    Georgia, USA born, but that do not matter, do it

    May 13, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. PalmReader

    Perhaps now would be a good time for the GOPers to explain why, if their policies are so good for America, Democrats are called upon to continually bring the country out of recessions AFTER republicans have had their control?

    So far, its been Obama, Obama, Obama . . . distractions are well and good, but many millions of Americans would really like answers. Evidently, we are asked to believe in the GOP, irregardless of history.

    It's not going to work this time, GOPers. Sorry.

    May 13, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. Gerry NH

    Wait until after the election when we get hit with so many new taxes. Maybe we need a flat tax and everyone will be taxed.

    May 13, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When Bush took office Clinton left our country with a surplus and Bush left President Obama and this country in a total economic meltdown. It took money for Bush to get us in this mess and it takes money to get us out no matter which way you look at it. Nobody does business with someone who has no spending power, borrowed or saved.

    May 13, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    "It's not going to be fun."
    It hasn't been fun watching Obama spend America into the dirt, but I am sure he, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid had fun running up our credit card on useless partisan programs that didn't work.

    I have to admit though, it was fun watching the Massachusetts voters come to America's rescue by sending in Senator Brown.

    May 13, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. thor

    One thing he's right about. It's not going to be fun.Spend and tax!!!

    May 13, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. valwayne

    9.9% UNEMPLOYMENT when Obama promised us it wouldn't go over 8% if we would just pass the corrupt stimulous bill without reading it!!! 9.9% UNEMPLOYMENT and Obama thinks the American people should be thanking him! With all the trillion in corrupt wasted spending all Obama has given us thus far is 9.9% UNEMPLOYMENT. Let's make a deal. If UNEMPLOYMENT is 8% or less by election day in Nov we'll let the Democrats keep their jobs. If its over 8% lets use Obama's own standard to declare the Democrats a corrupt failure and kick them the heck out of office. 8% Obama....we would expect it to be better by now since you promised it wouldn't go over 8%, but all Americans, especially the unemployed, should judge your party by the promises and standards you set.

    May 13, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. NY

    Ever wonder how things would have turned out if McCain and Palin had won the election? What would they be doing now for our country? Seriously, what would they have done up to now that would have changed everything and made the country better today 5/12/2010.
    Come on...give me a few solid answers based on their campaign promises? Where would we be now? Today? Why would they have been better then Pres. Obama?

    May 13, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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