Obama says economic fix could take years

WASHINGTON Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:39am EST

President Barack Obama speaks on the extension of the payroll tax cut and the Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray's nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the briefing room of the White House in Washington December 8, 2011.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Barack Obama speaks on the extension of the payroll tax cut and the Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray's nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the briefing room of the White House in Washington December 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite some recent signs the sluggish U.S. economy might be improving, President Barack Obama warns it could be years before the country is on a sound footing.

In excerpts from an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" program that will air on Sunday, Obama was asked whether he underestimated how difficult it would be to fix the U.S. economy when he became president in 2009.

"I always believed that this was a long-term project," the Democratic president told "60 Minutes." He added it would "take time" to reverse "structural problems in our economy that have been building up for two decades."

Obama added in the excerpts, released on Friday, that he thought "it was going to take more than two years. It was going to take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president."

When asked whether he thought the U.S. jobless rate might drop to 8 percent by next November's presidential and congressional elections, Obama said: "I think it's possible. But ... I'm not in the job of prognosticating on the economy."

Reducing unemployment is considered key to Obama's re-election chances next year.

The U.S. jobs picture has improved in recent weeks, with the national unemployment rate falling to 8.6 percent from 9 percent. The government also reported this week that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a nine-month low last week.

But even an 8 percent unemployment rate is considered high - a 4 percent or 5 percent rate is seen as about normal - and if it stays high in coming months, it could complicate Obama's hopes for re-election.

Some independent economists have suggested the national jobless rate is likely to be in the range of 8 percent to 9 percent, leaving millions unemployed over the long run.

A new CBS News poll has Obama's approval rating at 44 percent, with 54 percent of respondents saying he did not deserve a second four-year term.

Only 33 percent gave Obama good marks for his handling of the economy, the lowest of his presidency, according to the CBS poll released on Friday.

Republicans are in the process of deciding their party's presidential nominee to challenge Obama. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich are considered the front-runners.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (18)
tommyguns wrote:
Maybe the guy he affirmative action bumped at Columbia should be president. This is lame, lame, lame.

Dec 09, 2011 8:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
HAL.9000 wrote:
Well it took 8 Bush years to break, it may take just as long to fix.

Dec 09, 2011 9:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
oi812 wrote:
Hal the policies that were instituted during the Clinton years got us into this mess. Throwing borrowed money to save government workers will not grow this economy and that is all Obama has. This poor excuse of a leader has never run anything in the private sector. All he has ever done is pit rich against poor-what a uniter-I would not have this guy run a kool-aid stand.

Dec 09, 2011 9:35pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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