June 8th, 2012
03:37 PM ET
10 years ago

'The economy is not doing fine,' Obama clarifies

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama, walking back his assertion at a press conference the "private sector's doing fine," acknowledged Friday that "it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine."

The struggling economy, he clarified, is "why I had the press conference."

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"That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this part month, this past year talking about how we can make this economy stronger," Obama said in the Oval Office. "The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, there are too many homes underwater."

In the press conference Friday morning, Obama touted job growth in the private sector of the economy, describing the public sector - state and local governments - as the weight dragging the economy.

"The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last two, 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector's doing fine," Obama said. "Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in."

CNNMoney: Obama to Congress: Do something

Republicans wasted little time on Friday hammering Obama for his remark. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney asked at a campaign event in Utah if the president was "really that out of touch."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (353 Responses)
  1. V in Chicago

    I know I will get trashed from all the right-winged haters and biggots, but this man has my vote. If nothing else, he is honest, true of heart and really does understand the working middle class of this Country.

    Thank you, Mr. Obama! Here's to 4 more years of honest (not paid for) leadership!

    June 8, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. Valentina

    I watched his presser... He repeated his "private sector's doing fine" several times – he needs to admit that either 1) he truly believes it which means that he is out of touch with reality, or 2) that he's got nothing else to run on so he tried to spin from thin air which is backfiring. Either way Obama is in real trouble with his re-election, mine is well bid farewell to him right now.

    June 8, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Delusional Democrats Whining Crying Blaming, My Dream Has Come True

    OK, well Obama shot himself in the right foot with his first comment and has now provided another great sound bite and shot himself in the left foot!!! Obama, Cory Booker, Bill Clinton,.... Who could ask for better Romney supporters than THAT!

    Obama needs to just pack it in at this point. Donate all the money he has raised to help the people he has kept unemployed for 4 years. Pack your bags and resign, let Crazy Joe takeover until Romney arrives in January. He can;t tell the truth and nobody believes his lies anymore. I believe the word is CHECKMATE.

    June 8, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "But then, what can we expect from a community organizer.."

    Same as we can expect from a Bain man - who incidentally recommended that GW inact a stimulus before Obama took office. Above and beyond the TARP Bush signed into law. Romney detailed the same ideas as the one Obama originally signed into law. You know the one? The infrastructure job plan otherwise known as American Jobs Recovery Act of 2009.

    Romney wrote a long op-ed favoring such a plan ... indeed he was quite insistent such a plan shouldn't wait for Obama's inauguration but instead be put in play BEFORE GW left office, the need was that dire at the time. His Republican party was having none of it.

    And here you are, still thinking there is a difference between when a Democrat does it and when a Republican does it. Inact policies FOR America, that is - not just pocket lining for a few investors.

    June 8, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. jerry

    he has and will say anything for a vote. At his core he is empty and without moral bearing.

    June 8, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Sue

    Too late to walk it back Obama--we already heard what you said!!! The majority of voters in the country are waking up-and they will not vote to reelect Obama!! Romney and the superpacs need to keep running numerous ads in all of the states and wake up even more voters about the "real" incompetent, clueless, Obama--and how his policies are destroying our economy/country. For a real treat.....go to youtube and type this in the search bar.......Obama laughs about shovel ready jobs.

    June 8, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. Alex in Wisconsin

    Don't worry Mr. President, those of us with college degrees understand what you were trying to say. The economy isn't out of the hospital. But it's in stable, but serious condition. Compared to the fact that 3 years ago, it was hemmoraging jobs and was clearly in critiical condition, that's not too bad. Compared to the public sector that's bleeding jobs, the private sector is fine. As long as Republicans stop poisoning the economy, the recovery will continue.

    June 8, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. Thaw

    Obama is being honest ! This is a word that the GOP does NOT know. The Republicans are liars and cheats and will do and say anything to get what they want. Quite honestly I am sick of the Republicans and what they are doing and especially sick of Romney. He gives a bad name to anyone who is a Republican.

    June 8, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. getoverit

    I guess his position on the matter is "evolving" again...

    June 8, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Obama from Popeye's Chicken

    ....it really hard telling the truth. CNN calls it backtracking, but most of America knows I was a lying.

    That sneaky Romney is going to try and use my own words and my own record against me....I can't belive it!

    Time for another flowerly speach to make America feel good!!

    Love, OBO

    June 8, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    President Obama’s latest speech laid out some policy retreads for tackling the tepid recovery, while he lectured Europe to get its act together. He is right about the sorry state of the U.S. economy, which has proven highly resistant, if not downright impervious, to his past stimulus efforts. And he is right about the threat that Europe’s meltdown presents, which are all the more reason Obama’s past failures at stimulus, are so unfortunate and so dangerous.
    It’s notable as well that his speech followed a downgrade warning from the rating agency Fitch and the annual release by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of the Long-Term Budget Outlook. Fitch told Washington that it must put forward a plan to tackle the massive debt problem, while the CBO called the numbers: U.S. debt will reach nearly 200 percent of GDP in just 25 years. According to the CBO, these debt levels will reduce real GDP by 13.5 percent over the same time.
    The President should be proposing a plan to tackle this looming debt crisis. This would eliminate a huge dark cloud hanging over—and holding back—our economy. He could remove another by calling for Congress to disarm Taxmegeddon this summer. Instead of real, effective ideas, his policy slate is just another distracting summer rerun.
    Obama’s proposal? The same failed ideas of the past—surprise, surprise, more stimulus spending. Sure, he has relabeled the plan with the sparkling new name “investment,” but a flop is still a flop, no matter what you call it. This plan was rightly rejected by Congress the last time it came up, since it includes a permanent tax hike to pay for temporary spending, which would do nothing for the economy.
    Knowing his ideas would get zero traction; the President trotted it out again, and in so doing, tried to shift the blame for the miserable recovery to Congress. Devoid of new ideas, Obama dusted off his old jobs plan, proposed last September, which was itself a rerun of his originally failed stimulus. The President called for spending to bail out states so they do not have to lay off teachers, police, and firefighters. (How this actually would create jobs is unclear.) He also called for spending to boost construction on roads and bridges and other such projects. (No matter that this did nothing to create new jobs in the last massive round of stimulus spending.) He also called for helping homeowners refinance their mortgages. (This is not a responsibility of the federal government, nor will it create any jobs.) As Heritage’s J.D. Foster said last September, “In his jobs speech…the President is calling for more new spending on proven policies that are proven failures.”
    The President couched all this spending as “investment.” He is talking about all-new spending, and he would pay for it by hiking taxes on businesses and investors.
    Heritage’s Curtis Dubay also noted last September:
    The President called for raising taxes on investors, businesses, and entrepreneurs in his speech. These are the job creators he so desperately needs to help revive the economy. Raising their taxes will reduce the already limited incentives they have to invest and add new workers right now.
    The President also called for a targeted tax cut for small business owners who create jobs. Just how a small business would prove that it created new jobs is a minor matter, but it illustrates the difficulty Washington has when it tries to micro-manage the economy.
    The President does get close to a real solution with the last proposal—freeing up businesses, investors, and families from burdensome levels of taxation. But a major issue hindering economic growth and job creation today is uncertainty. Taxmageddon—the expiration of all 2001 and 2003 tax policy, the Alternative Minimum Tax patch, and the payroll tax cut, plus Obamacare’s most insidious new taxes—is looming on January 1. On that date, everyone who pays taxes in America will see their taxes increase. Rather than call for eliminating this real and tangible stranglehold over job creators today, Obama didn’t even mention it. Yet it is the most important thing Congress should do this summer to unshackle the economy and job growth.
    The other crucial thing Washington should do is address America’s fiscal path. The President did touch on this, calling for a “glide path to fiscal responsibility.” Yet again, cute expression; no substance. He offered no solutions, not touching even one idea from his own Bowles–Simpson deficit commission.
    So, the silly season of summer politics is in full swing. Obama has just released another summer rerun—more of the same failed policies of the past and none of the real solutions the nation needs.

    June 8, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. Four and The Door

    "The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, there are too many homes underwater."
    Does he also know national debt just shot up past $16 trillion even though America still has the largest economy the world has ever known and American companies are taxed at the highest rates of those in any developed country? This is a much more ominous situation than he acknowledges and he is not the guy to fix it.

    Mitt Romney is exactly the right guy to lead the American economy back and to put the nation on a course for a great future. More and more American are realizing this. His time has arrived and he is ready for it.

    June 8, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. tisthetruth

    Ok we have the "greatest communicator" in the Oval Office and we are supposed to believe he does not believe what he says when he said the private sector was "fine."? We have Bill Clinton backtracking on his comments that the tax cuts should be extended. Seems like the Democrats hate it when they speak the truth of how they really feel.

    June 8, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Brembeav

    "Mitt Romney asked at a campaign event in Utah if the president was "really that out of touch.""

    Mitt Romney is the definition of "out of touch."

    June 8, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Chris

    This is what happens when the teleprompter doesn't have all the talking points.

    June 8, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. Pete in S.C.

    You have a living room full of elephant crap. Hire a man to clean it up, he makes progress, but not fast enough for the owners. So you bring back the elephants. BRILLIANT !

    June 8, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. Joe

    He said in 08 that if he could not fix the economy in 4 yrs. that he would step aside...LIAR

    June 8, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    what a dumb statement.....of course he "back tracked"....record number of people out of work and he says that....what really floors me is the that killer "cash for clunkers" idea never lifted us out of this funk.....I mean that was pure genius!!!!! hahahahahahaa

    June 8, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. darren

    It has always been obvious that the president has only been concerned with government and union jobs. They are the ones who fund his campaigns. He has been hostile to private businesses from the start.

    June 8, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  20. Scott


    Why does he have to admit one of those 2 things?

    Obama said the private sector is "doing fine". 6 years ago the private sector was losing jobs, and now we're creating them. So technically he is right.

    I find it odd that you want him to admit something (I'm sure because of his skin color) yet Romney is allowed to say that Obama has no ideas for this economy, but you're not forcing him to admit that he's not in touch with reality.

    I wonder if you just started saying that when you heard it on Fox News...

    June 8, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. AreYouForReal?!

    @Valentina – He isn't saying the private sector is good, he's saying compared to the public sector, the private sector is alright. That's why he keeps repeating it.

    but to say it in the first place was pretty id 10 t to say the least.

    June 8, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. Delusional Democrats Whining Crying Blaming, My Dream Has Come True

    This is what happens when the truth is not on your side. You start saying gibberish and trying to spin fantasy into reality and you end up sounding like a fool. Obama is quickly running out of smoke, mirrors and snake oil. Even his teleprompter can't save him anymore. The empty suit is exposed. November is going to be a slaughterhouse at this rate. The Democrat Party may not survive Obama, Redi and Pelosi.

    June 8, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. bill

    He needs another press conference to 'clarify ' that he is an idiot.

    June 8, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. rosie

    Wow, he finely noticed. Just great. And to think we only have Romney as the other choice. God help us all.

    June 8, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. T in Washington

    Valentina –

    That is BS – I watched the entire presser as well. He said it once and the context was that in comparison to what is happening in the public sector, the private sector is doing ok. Have you seen the record profits and bonuses the big corporations are making? If you want jump on a gaffe (which puts him about 20 behind Mitt) go ahead. However, don't make stuff up in addition to that. Plus, a reasonable person would have had a comment on other information re Europe and public sector job losses. No, but instead like a lemming, you just run off with one comment, echoing Mitt Romney's comments from earlier.

    You're a joke.

    June 8, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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