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No change in the behaviour of US cos: Obama

By Lalit K Jha in Washington
July 23, 2009 17:34 IST
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President Barack Obama on Thursday said the stabilisation in the America's financial system is a success story of the last six months; but rued that there has not been a change in the behaviour of the US companies that has resulted in their collapse last year.

"One of the success stories of the past six months is that we really have seen stabilisation in the financial system. It is not where it needs to be. But people are no longer talking about the financial system falling off a cliff. We've stepped away from the brink," Obama told reporters at a prime time White House press conference.

The president observed that's important because it means lot of companies right now can go into the marketplace and borrow money to fund inventory, fund payroll, and that will help the economy grow as a whole.

"Now that the financial system has bounced back, what you're seeing is that banks are starting to make profits again. Some of them have paid back the federal aid money that they received, the bank bailout money that they received. And we expect more of them to pay this back. That's a good thing," Obama noted.

Health care reforms central to recovery: Obama

Battling dipping popularity ratings and increasing criticism of his heath care reform campaign, President Barack Obama on Thursday strongly defended his ambitious plan, calling it vital for recovering from the worst recession to hit the US since the great depression.

"Even as we rescue this economy from a full-blown crisis, we must rebuild it stronger than before. And health insurance reform is central to that effort," Obama said at a prime time news conference at White House, aimed at taking his case for health reforms to the people.

Obama's nationally televised press conference comes as he has been facing criticism from the opposition Republicans for his decision to overhaul the country's health care system.

"This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance. Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job," Obama said.

"It's about every small business that has been forced to lay off employees or cut back on their coverage because it became too expensive. And it's about the fact that the biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid," he asserted.

Obama warned that if the spiraling health care costs are not controlled, the US will not be able to control its deficit.

"If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket. If we do not act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the consequences of inaction. These are the stakes of the debate we're having right now," he said.

Referring to the growing criticism against him, which has also pulled down his approval rating, Obama said: "I realize that with all the charges and criticisms being thrown around in Washington, many Americans may be wondering, What's in this for me? How does my family stand to benefit from health insurance reform?"

Responding to his critics including Indian-origin Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has come out on a series of news channels in the past two days, Obama said: "Tonight I want to answer those questions."

Even though Congress is still working through a few key issues, they have already have agreement in several areas, he argued. People already having health insurance, the proposed reform will provide them with more security and more stability, he said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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