Newsmax Joins Obama for White House Economic Summit

Saturday, 11 Jun 2011 07:26 PM

By Steve Coz, Editorial Director

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Newsmax met with President Barack Obama and his senior advisers to discuss a wide range of serious economic issues facing the United States and the world.

In a first for the administration, the White House brought together 22 of the country’s leading online media — including Newsmax, Forbes, The Economist, Kiplinger, MSN, Yahoo, and AOL/Huffington Post — to create a platform to better communicate the administration's economic message.

President Barack Obama speaks to media executives at the White House Personal Finance Online Summit, which included Newsmax Editorial Director Steve Coz and Newsmax magazine Editor in Chief Ken Chandler Wednesday. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON — Newsmax met with President Barack Obama and his senior advisers at a special White House Summit to discuss a wide range of serious economic issues facing the United States and the world.

In a first for the administration, the White House brought together 22 of the country’s leading online media — including Newsmax, Forbes, The Economist, Kiplinger, MSN, Yahoo, and AOL/Huffington Post — to create a platform to better communicate the administration's economic message.

Newsmax Editorial Director Steve Coz and Newsmax magazine Editor in Chief Ken Chandler attended the summit Wednesday and spoke with Obama and his advisers.

President Obama and his advisers asserted that the public is not aware of the economic improvements that have taken place during the past 18 months.

Speakers at the exclusive invitation-only summit included Austan Goolsbee, chief economist for the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for Economic Policy.

The summit focused on the debt ceiling, the housing crisis, and the job market. Obama, looking determined, urged patience and insisted that his economic programs are working, and challenged Republicans on spending cuts.

"We went through a bubble that happened at every level — government, corporate, financial, and consumer," Obama said. "This deleveraging has been very painful. It has sobered everybody up.”

Overall, after six consecutive quarters of solid growth, the first quarter of 2011 saw a dismal 1.8 percent GDP growth rate. That was down from 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The president, noting that the symposium’s media attendees could reach tens of millions of Americans, added: "It remains smart to spend on things that will increase productivity and income in the long term. The economy has to get back to producing more and not just spending more."

Referring to the disappointing unemployment numbers reported in May, Goolsbee said: “You cannot make too much out of any one jobs report,” adding that “1 million new jobs” have been added in the past six months.

The unemployment rate, which has been improving over the past several months, rose unexpectedly in May from 9.0 to 9.1 percent, causing concern about the nation’s economic recovery.

However, Goolsbee said, “We do not have a sense of panic,” and stressed that the overall trend was important, not one individual set of numbers.

And Sperling suggested that both sides in the debt ceiling battle had come to an agreement that there had to be “a significant down payment on deficit reduction.”

Sperling also said taking on entitlements including Medicare cannot be ruled out.

Obama confirmed Sperling’s statements, saying it is a challenge to deal with those who believe supporting programs such as Medicaid and cutting spending to reduce the deficit are mutually exclusive.

“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have some tough choices,” he explained. “What I think is absolutely true is that the general public does not have all the information they need in respect to how the federal budget is constructed.

“I don’t blame them. When I was not actively involved with the federal government, I had no idea what was taking place and what was in appropriations bills.”

After Obama presented his views on the overall economy, he engaged the audience in a Q and A and shared some of his own personal financial experiences.

When asked his No. 1 personal finance tip for the average consumer, Obama said: “Don’t spend all your money.” He went on to say that doesn’t mean pinching pennies. He explained how he and first lady Michelle “spent $120,000 for their education, including Harvard law school,” and had to pay off the loan “over 10 years.”

Obama noted that things worked out quite well for him and Michelle from that investment. “There is a distinction between spending on things that will increase your productivity and your wealth and spending on things you merely want.

“Some folks say that investment is just another term for spending. There’s an important distinction.”

He shared some advice he learned from his grandmother, who was one of the first female vice presidents at the Bank of Hawaii: "Save a little bit of whatever you’re earning and the magic of compounding interest applies."

Between unemployment, school debt, the housing problems and — for a growing number of people — having to care for elderly parents, the economy can be a "quadruple whammy," he said, and it's more important than ever that people have "spending discipline."

He stressed that, on a personal level, managing debt and living within one’s means could be the keys to securing a strong financial future.



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