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Carney: Obama Focused On Economy

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) — President Barack Obama conferred with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other top advisers on the economy Wednesday as the U.S. markets took another sharp dive.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Chief of Staff Bill Daley joining Obama and Bernanke in the Oval Office discussion on the domestic and global economic picture, the White House said in a statement.

“The President and the Chairman discussed the outlook for the recovery and for jobs as well as fiscal issues, including the need to tackle long-term deficit reduction,” the statement said. “They also discussed the situation in Europe.”

The meeting took place as the Dow Jones industrial average lost 519.83 points to finish the day at 10,719.94, more than wiping out the 429 points it had regained Tuesday following Monday’s 634-point dive.

Obama spokesman Jay Carney said nothing has the president’s attention more than the economy and the recalcitrant joblessness, which remains above 9 percent.

“Whether the markets are up or down, whether there’s volatility or relative stability, this president is focused every day on the economy,” he told reporters at the daily briefing, adding at another point there is “a great feeling of urgency.”

The president has talked with other world leaders in recent days, Carney said, including British Prime Minister David Cameron Wednesday, and Geithner has been in contact with his counterparts in other countries.

Asked whether White House economists agree with the Fed’s dour outlook for the economy, Carney fell back on the administration’s standard line that “headwinds” continue to be stronger than expected.

“We, broadly speaking, recognize that the economy has slowed down, that the growth has not been where outside economists as well as inside believed it would be at this stage this year,” he said.

“We also continue to believe, as we believe outside analysts continue to believe, that the economy will keep growing, and we need to do what we can to ensure that it does and to ensure that it creates jobs at the fastest pace possible, because this president will not rest until he is confident that every American who wants a job can find a job.”

Carney defended Obama’s decision to go ahead with his scheduled summer vacation, saying “I don’t think Americans out there would begrudge that notion that the president would spend some time with his family,” and noting that the president never leaves his job behind.

“He will be in constant communication and get regular briefings from his national security team, as well as his economic team, and he will, of course, be fully capable, if necessary, of traveling back if that were required,” Carney said.

He noted Obama will hold another in a series of meetings with business leaders Friday, and also will be traveling the country in the coming days to talk to people about the economy in their communities.

Carney said Obama would continue to push in Congress “things that we can do together that have bipartisan support that could create jobs right away, including passage of the free-trade agreements, the three of them that are up there; passage of patent reform to unleash entrepreneurial innovative spirit in our economy; extension of the payroll tax cut; extension of unemployment insurance — things that economists say could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, up to a million.”

Asked what specific message Obama will have for Wall Street leaders when he is in New York Thursday night, Carney said that while he didn’t have a preview of the president’s remarks will deal with his efforts to work with Congress to “grow the economy and create jobs.”

When asked if the president would do anything extraordinary to reinvigorate the economy, Carney said, “if you’re talking about a stunt, I don’t think a stunt is what the American people are looking for. They’re looking for leadership and they’re looking for a focus on economic growth and job creation.”

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

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