Obama Plugs Economic Growth

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Before heading to Maryland to tour a Secret Service training facility, President Obama gave a 10-minute address in the White House Rose Garden that focused mostly on this morning’s strong economic numbers. As Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, noted in the post to the White House blog, real GDP grew for the third straight quarter, this time at a rate of 3.2%–a stark year-over-year contrast from the first quarter of 2009, when GDP plunged 6.4%. “What this number means is that our economy as a whole is in a much better place than it was one year ago,” Obama said.

Still, he noted, “While today’s GDP report is an important milepost on our road to recovery, it doesn’t mean much to an American who has lost his or her job and can’t find another.” For most people suffering through a largely jobless recovery, he acknowledged, GDP numbers buoyed by consumer spending are meaningless. “‘You’re hired’ is the only economic news they’re waiting to hear,” Obama said. To spotlight the impact his economic policies have had, Obama surrounded himself with executives and workers at companies who have embarked on modest hiring sprees thanks to funds from the stimulus bill’s multi-billion dollar allocations to clean energy and smart-grid technologies. Among the success stories the President touted were a battery-technology company opening new plants in Michigan and an energy-meter company that hired dozens of new workers using tax credits from the Recovery Act.

The pitch for a clean-energy economy dovetailed – if slightly awkwardly – with Obama’s update on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which according to Coast Guard officials has washed ashore, posing threats to marine and other wildlife. Noting he had marshaled federal agencies to mitigate the environmental impact as much as possible, Obama said 300 response vessels and aircraft were on site to curb the spread of the spill. Authorities have laid 217,000 feet of protective boom, and Obama noted that no authorization will be given for new drilling until the recommendations from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s 30-day review have been weighed and implemented. Our colleague Bryan Walsh has a good Time.com piece on the spill’s potential impact.