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President Obama: 'The Private Sector Is Doing Fine


"...if Republicans want to be helpful...what they should be thinking about is 'how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry.'" Update: President clarifies. Update II: GOP responds with video.

During a press conference at the White House on Friday morning, President Obama told a room full of journalists that "the private sector is doing fine."

“The most important thing, I think, we can do,” the president said while answering a question on the eurozone crisis, “is make sure that we continue to have a strong, robust recovery.”

“We’ve got a couple of sectors in our economy that are still weak. Overall, the private sector has been doing a good job creating jobs. We’ve seen record profits in the corporate sector. The big challenge we have in our economy right now is that state and local government hiring has been going in the wrong direction. You’ve seen teacher layoffs, police officers, cops, firefighters, being laid off. And the other sector that’s still weak has been the construction industry,” said President Obama.

“Those two areas we’ve directly addressed with our jobs plan. The problem is that it requires congress take action and we’re going to keep pushing them to see if they can move in that direction,” he added.

The president then turned to The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes.

Jackie Calmes

“What about the Republicans saying that you’re blaming the Europeans for the failure of your own policies?” she asked as a follow-up to her original question regarding eurozone austerity measures.

“The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 2, 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone,” the president responded.

“The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government oftentimes cuts initiated by 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 kind of flexibility as the government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in,” he added.

Watch via CBS:

But the president wasn’t finished. He had a message (he had several, actually) for his Republican opponents.

“And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is 'how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry,'" said President Obama.

"Because the recipes that they’re promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the economy," he concluded.

Update: Well, that didn't take very long. Apparently, the president realized how "out of touch" his "doing fine" remark sounded and took a moment to "clarify" what he actually meant.

"It is absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine," President Obama said in the Oval Office after his meeting with Phillippine President Benigno Aquino, according to POLITICO.

Update II: Good grief, that was fast. The GOP has already responded with a new video:

Front page photo source: Doug Mills/The New York Times

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