Obama Responds to Criticism That He’s Tackling Too Many Problems at Once

By Julie Pace | March 17, 2009 | 11:31 AM EDT
Washington (AP) - President Barack Obama pushed back Tuesday against criticism that he's trying to take on too many issues at once, defending a $3.6 trillion budget that seeks to shore up the economy while also overhauling health care, energy and education.
"To kick these problems down the road for another four years or another eight years would be to continue the same irresponsibility that led us to this point," Obama said in a appearance with the heads of the congressional budget committees. "That's not why I ran for this office. I didn't come here to pass on our problems to the next president or the next generation."
In particular, the president responded sharply to the idea, pushed by some leaders in Congress, that he should be focusing on fixing the banking crisis first. Obama said his team is working aggressively to free up frozen credit and get people working again, but that real economic recovery requires many actions at once.
"The American people don't have the luxury of just focusing on Wall Street," Obama said. "They don't have the luxury of choosing to pay their mortgage or their medical bills. They don't get to pick between paying their kids' college tuition or saving enough money for retirement."
"They have to do all these things," the president added. "They have to confront all these problems. And as a consequence, so do we."
Obama was flanked by two Democrats as he defended he budget plan: Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and his House counterpart, Rep. John Spratt Jr., D-S.C. Obama's $3.6 trillion spending plan for the federal budget year beginning Oct. 1 assumes a $1.75 trillion deficit.
In a passage clearly aimed at his Republican critics, Obama challenged lawmakers who oppose his budget plan to offer constructive alternatives. He said he welcomed ideas from both parties but would not accept another period of political tactics.
"`Just say no' is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs," Obama said. "It is not an acceptable response to whatever economic policy is proposed by the other party. The American people sent us here to get things done."
Obama said his budget sets the framework for real economic recovery, the kind he said can create "lasting wealth," not the illusion of prosperity. He has been pushing lawmakers and the country to get behind a long-range, costly economic model that isn't build on bubbles like the now collapsed housing market.
<br />