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« Strategy Memo: Swing State Travel Continues | Blog Home Page | VA Gov Poll: McDonnell +15 »

At Health Care Event, Obama Defends Stimulus

President Obama went to North Carolina to sell health care, but spent nearly 20 minutes at a town hall meeting there defending his first major legislative effort, the economic stimulus plan.

Obama referred skeptically to the Newsweek cover story declaring that the recession is over, but did argue: "We've stopped the freefall. The market is up and the financial system is no longer on the verge of collapse. We're losing jobs at nearly half the rate we were when I took office six months ago."

He defended efforts to stabilize financial and housing markets, and the auto industry. He then went through a detailed explanation of what the Recovery Act was intended to do, answering what the "misinformation out there." The first two thirds of the plan went into tax relief, the extension of COBRA and unemployment benefits, and direct aid to the states. The final third, he conceded, has been controversial: the "short-term and long-term investments."

"This money is not being wasted," he said, citing specific projects around the Raleigh area. To those who say the pace of implementation, he said it would have been impossible to break ground immediately.

"It will take time to achieve a complete recovery. We're not gonna rest until anyone who's looking for work can find a job. But there is little debate that these steps, taken together, have helped stop our economic freefall," he said.

And to those who have criticized his spending, he again called hypocrisy.

"We shouldn't have a selective memory," he said. "You're handing me a $1.3 trillion bill, and then you're complaining six months later that we haven't paid it all back?"

These are the same people who passed two tax cuts for the wealthy paying for them. And those who criticize his efforts on health care? "You passed a prescription drug plan and didn't pay for it! Handed the bill to me."

For all the detail of his economic defense, his comments on the health care front covered little new ground.

"The reforms we seek will bring stability and security that you don't have today - reforms that become more urgent and more urgent with each passing year," he said.