But "The private sector is doing fine" wasn't that kind of remark. It was made in response to a question after he read a prepared statement, which had made the same point and purported to back it up with facts, and it was a point he wanted to make to justify a government jobs plan:
[Congress] left most of the jobs plan just sitting there...And here's the way he put it in the question section:
Keep in mind that the private sector has been hiring at a solid pace over the last 27 months. But one of the biggest weaknesses has been state and local governments, which have laid off 450,000 Americans. These are teachers and cops and firefighters. Congress should pass a bill putting them back to work right now, giving help to the states so that those layoffs are not occurring....
And the most important thing I think we can do 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 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.
Q What about the Republicans saying that you’re blaming the Europeans for the failures of your own policies?Note the failure to mention the Wisconsin recall and the Scott Walker method of actually getting the budget under control and then not firing people.
THE PRESIDENT: The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. 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 federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
So here's the new transcript, where Obama tries to climb out of the hole he dug for himself:
Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s the reason I had the press conference. That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger.So far, he's only referring to "the economy" — not the private sector.
The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater. And that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.
Now, I think if you look at what I said this morning and what I’ve been saying consistently over the last year, we’ve actually seen some good momentum in the private sector. We’ve seen 4.3 million jobs created — 800,000 this year alone — record corporate profits. And so that has not been the biggest drag on the economy.That's a repetition of what he said in the original remarks, which he summed up as "the private sector is doing fine."
The folks who are hurting, where we have problems and where we can do even better, is small businesses that are having a tough time getting financing; we’ve seen teachers and police officers and firefighters who’ve been laid off — all of which, by the way, when they get laid off spend less money buying goods and going to restaurants and contributing to additional economic growth.Here there's a reference to small business — because, apparently, it's good for businesses to do well, but if they do too well and become medium-sized or big, forget it. But even with respect to small business, the idea is that they'd get a trickle down effect if public workers had more money to spend buying goods and going to restaurants. So it's still all about pumping up public employment.
The construction industry is still very weak, and that’s one of the areas where we’ve still seen job losses instead of job gains.I won't parse all that in detail, but I think he stayed in the hole he'd dug for himself: The answer is federal spending to local government. And then there's that man over there he's pretending does not exist: Scott Walker!
So if we take the steps that I laid out to make sure that we’re not seeing teacher layoffs and we’re not seeing police officer layoffs, and we’re providing small businesses with additional financing and tax breaks for when they hire or if they’re giving raises to their employees; if we refinance housing — or allow homeowners to refinance so they’ve got an extra $3,000 in their pocket so that they can spend money and contribute to further economic growth; if we’re making sure that we’re rebuilding, work that has to be done anyway, deferred maintenance on roads and bridges that could put construction workers back to work — all those things will strengthen the economy, and independent economists estimate it would create an additional million jobs.
Now, you can’t give me a good reason as to why Congress would not act on these items other than politics — because these are traditionally ideas that Democrats and Republicans have supported. So let me be as clear as I can be. The economy needs to be strengthened. That’s why I had a press conference.
I believe that there are a lot of Americans who are hurting right now, which is what I’ve been saying for the last year, two years, three years, what I’ve been saying since I came into office. And the question then is what are we going to do about it? And one of the things that people get so frustrated about is that instead of actually talking about what would help, we get wrapped up in these political games. That’s what we need to put an end to.
So the key right now is for folks — what I’m interested in hearing from Congress and Mr. Romney is what steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference. And so far, all we’ve heard are additional tax cuts to the folks who are doing fine, as opposed to taking steps that would actually help deal with the weaknesses in the economy and promote the kind of economic growth that we would all like to see.
All right. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thanks. Thank you, guys.