From NBC's Athena Jones
OAK BLUFFS, Mass. -- President Obama took a break from his vacation on Tuesday to nominate Benjamin Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.
The White House said the announcement was intended to put to rest speculation about whether Bernanke, a Bush appointee who is an expert on the Great Depression, would be kept on. One official said the president wanted to keep his economic team intact as they work to ensure an economic recovery. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, all recommended to the president that he keep Bernanke on, the official said.
"Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom; with bold action and outside-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic freefall," Obama told the reporters gathered in a a high school gym here. "Almost none of the decisions that he or any of us made have been easy."
The president went on to say that the actions taken to stabilize the financial system, restructure the auto industry and jump-start credit markets were "steps of necessity, not choice" that helped bring the economy back from the brink, though he acknowledged the country was a long way from a full recovery and pledged to work until people who want jobs can get them and companies that need loans can get them.
But the news came on the same day the administration announced an increase in its budget deficit projections to $9 trillion over the next 10 years from $7.1 trillion, news the president's critics are likely to use to support their argument that the president's programs are too expensive and threaten the nation's fiscal stability.
Obama argues his push for an energy bill and a massive revamp of the nation's health care system, along with updated financial regulations are essential to building a stronger economic foundation and helping to bring down deficits in the future. Obama vowed to continue to push his agenda.
"Much like the decisions we've made so far, the steps we take to build this new foundation will not be easy. Change never is," he said. "As Ben and I both know, it comes with debate and disagreement and resistance from those who prefer the status quo -- and that's ok, because that's how democracy is supposed to work. But no matter how difficult change is, we will pursue it relentlessly because it is absolutely necessary to lift this country up and create an economy that leads to good jobs, broad growth, and a future our children can count on."
The president will be vacationing here on Martha's Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, for the entire week. After his brief statement to the press -- during which he took no questions -- Obama headed to a nearby golf course for his second day of golfing.
Bernanke, who thanked the president for his support during brief remarks, was headed back to Washington.