US must rely on building, not buying, says Obama
WASHINGTON PRESIDENT Barack Obama said on Saturday the United States has relied too much on buying, consuming and amassing debt in the past decade and must now work harder to restore its manufacturing might to spur exports and create jobs.
As Obama wrapped up a nine-day Asia-Pacific tour and headed back to Washington, he used his weekly radio address to tout business deals announced during his trip that he estimated would support nearly 130,000 American jobs and potentially raise US exports by up to $39 billion.
He had cast his travels as a bid to re-engage with the world’s fastest-growing region and boost trade ties there, largely to help lift the US economy and curb 9 percent unemployment, regarded as crucial to his 2012 re-election.
But Obama also put some of the onus on the nation to change its ways.
“Over the last decade, we became a country that relied too much on what we bought and consumed.
We racked up a lot of debt, but we didn’t create many jobs at all,” Obama said in a speech broadcast after an East Asia summit in Bali.
“If we want an economy that’s built to last and built to compete, we have to change that. We have to restore America’s manufacturing might, which is what helped us build the largest middle-class in history,” Obama said.
It was another example of the tough-love rhetoric Obama has occasionally used with the American public and businesses struggling through hard economic times and as lawmakers in Washington remain gridlocked over US jobs and deficit woes.
While hosting an Asia- Pacific summit in Honolulu last weekend, Obama suggested the United States had been partly to blame for losing ground to China and other competitors for not working harder to attract foreign investment.
“We’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,” Obama said at the time. “We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America.” Some Republican presidential candidates jumped on those remarks, accusing Obama of calling Americans lazy. But the Democratic president’s supporters dismissed that as distorting what he said.