President Obama in a somber address to the nation Monday sought to summon Americans’ strength and perseverance as stocks continued in a 500-point free fall in the first trading day after Standard & Poor’s rating service downgraded the nation’s creditworthiness.
“Markets will always rise and fall,” Obama told the nation. “No matter what some agency may say, we’ve always been and always will be a AAA country.”For all the troubles the U.S. faces, Obama said, the country continues to have the best universities, most productive workers, and “the determination to shape our future.”
“We’re going to need to summon that spirit today,” he continued.
Many cable TV news outlets ran the President’s remarks along with a split screen of the financial market’s plummeting numbers. While Obama spoke, MSNBC briefly flashed a split screen showing the Dow Industrial Average dropping beneath 11,000.
Despite his insistence that Standard & Poor’s downgrade wasn’t merited, Obama’s address was focused on bolstering confidence in the U.S. economic and political systems. Even though the gridlock on full display in D.C. for the last month, Obama said he and Congress eventually hashed out an agreement to raise the debt ceiling and make a first round of longterm deficit reduction.
Obama pledged to announce his own plan for the next, more difficult round of deficit-reduction in the days and weeks ahead. The debt deal hammered out last week punted the issue of finding cost savings in entitlement programs, as well as overhauling the tax system, to a so-called bipartisan Super Committee in Congress. Made up six Democrats and six Republicans, chosen by party leaders, the panel is tasked with finding an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years by December.
The good news, Obama said, is that the problems the U.S. faces are “imminently solvable.”
Obama put his seal of approval on the first down payment in the debt deal, arguing that it makes historic cuts in domestic and defense spending, but for the next round he also called for “tax reform that will ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share” as well as “modest adjustments to entitlement programs like Medicare.”
“This doesn’t require any radical steps…,” he said. “…My hope is that Friday’s news will give us a renewed sense of urgency.”
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