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Obama on US economic crisis: ‘The fire is now out’

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama defended his administration’s response to the economic crisis over the last six months, declaring: “The fire is now out.”

“I think that we have stepped back from the abyss. I think we’ve put out the fire,” he said in an interview with PBS, according to a transcript released by the TV station.

But Obama, who is facing declining popularity ratings for the first time in his presidency, said a lot remains to be done to fix the recession-mired US economy.

“The analogy I use sometimes is, we had this beautiful house. And there was a fire. We came in and we had to hose it down. The fire is now out, but what we’ve discovered is, we need some new tuckpointing, the roof’s leaking, the boiler’s out, oh, and by the way, we’re way behind on our mortgage,” Obama said

The work that remains will be undertaken with “the limited resources” that are available, and will take time, Obama said.

“Nobody’s more mindful than I am of the difficult, difficult times that people are feeling right now,” he said.

In touting his administration’s response to the crisis, the president pointed to the financial regulation he hopes to impose to prevent some of the unchecked activities that contributed to the economic freefall.

“The problem that I’ve seen, at least, is you don’t get a sense that folks on Wall Street feel any remorse for taking all these risks; you don’t get a sense that there’s been a change of culture and behavior as a consequence of what has happened.

“And that’s why the financial regulatory reform proposals that we put forward are so important,” Obama said.

But he added that he did not regret his administration’s decision to fund loans to a number of big financial firms deemed too important to the functioning of the financial system to be allowed to collapse.

“If we didn’t stop the bleeding in the financial system, then it would have been even worse for everybody… That I don’t have second thoughts about,” he said.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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