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Obama criticizes Bush on the economy

From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
MONACA, PA -- Obama claimed that the economy was "teetering on a potential crisis" at a news conference here today and pointed a finger at President Bush, accusing him of poor fiscal management.

"History will not judge President bush kindly," Obama said of the economic downturn over the weekend, arguing that Bush appeared nonchalant over the potential crisis in remarks last week.

"When I saw the president in his press conference, almost lighthearted and joking about some of these issues, I think it did not instill the kind of confidence in the American people and certainly it didn't instill any confidence in me that the Administration is taking the situation seriously," Obama said.

He also argued that a lack of transparency within government had lead the economy down this road, and said that the ill effects had been a long time coming and many of the effects the economy was experiencing now was part of a long-term structural problems.

Focusing much of his attention on "ordinary Americans," Obama said that the average family's wages had "flatlined" over the last seven years.

"They were already having a tough time during the so-called boom times over the last seven years. The average families wages and incomes have flatlined. In fact they gone down when adjusted for inflation by a 1000 dollars."

Obama's remarks today came on the heels of Clinton's claim that the economy "was in the soup," and that more had to be done by the Federal Reserve to help with the fiscal crisis. Obama appeared to speak with more restraint.

He did not openly criticize what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke or Treasury Secretary Paulson did in helping JP Morgan buy Bear Stearns, calling them "creative steps."

He added that although he hasn't spoken with any of the Fed presidents or Paulson, "calls have been scheduled." He did say that he's spoken with some presidents of major Wall Street Banks to get a better picture of the financial market.

Regarding legislative proposals to deal with the crisis, Obama appeared to favor a middle- class tax relief that could be instituted right away. "I continue to believe that a middle- class tax cut that gets money into the pockets of working Americans is going to be most effective in regenerating the economy -- not a continuation of the same tax cuts that have been going to the top 1% for the last several years."

Asked if it should be instituted right away, he said: "I believe we should institute not just because it would be good economic stimulus, but because it would be important for fairness in the economy. We've got an economy like I've said who's seen their wages and income flatlined over the last seven years."

*** UPDATE *** RNC spokesman Alex Conant responds to Obama's critical statements on Bush: "The irony is that if Barack Obama studied history, he'd know that his tax-and-spend proposals would only hurt the economy. Barack Obama may not have much experience with national economic policy, but he should know that new taxes won't create new jobs."