Obama: 'I'm very confident' we'll be OK

Week 8: The president makes his case to business leaders that his budget proposal will provide a firm economic foundation.

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By Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff writer

In the past six months, how often have you looked at your 401(k) and other investment balances?
  • Every day
  • Once a week
  • Every month or so
  • I can't bear to look

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Midway through his first 100 days in office, President Obama sought to convey a more confident message about the nation's long-term economic prospects and rally support for his budget proposal.

"If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy, all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy, then we're going to get through this," Obama said. "And I'm very confident about that."

After meeting with his top economic advisers Friday, Obama acknowledged that the economy faces "significant problems," but he emphasized the need to lay the foundation for a "post-bubble economic growth model."

"What we need to do is to make sure that we're putting in the pillars economically to deal with the short-term emergency, to stabilize the economy, and to put in the foundation for long-term economic growth," he said.

The president said investing in education, reforming the nation's healthcare system and shifting to renewable energy sources are crucial to America's economic future.

"Those are the priorities reflected in our budget," he said.

Last month, the president unveiled a 10-year outline for the federal budget that calls for large investments in social services and would allow certain tax breaks for higher earning households to expire.

The plan, which projects a budget deficit of $1.75 trillion this year, has come under criticism for being overly ambitious and too expensive given the challenges already facing the nation's economy.

Obama's remarks came at the end of his eighth week in office, which was also the best week Wall Street has seen all year.

Stocks posted gains for the fourth session in a row Friday after languishing near 12-year lows last week. The rally prompted some speculation that the market is finally nearing its bottom, but analysts warned that the nation's economic woes are far from over.

Looking ahead, Obama will meet with Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva over the weekend to discuss the global financial crisis, environment, and energy.

Next week, Obama will travel to California for a town hall meeting in Santa Ana on Wednesday and will visit Los Angeles on Thursday.

On Capitol Hill, members of the House Financial Services Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss ways to prevent "systemic risks" to the economy.

100-day scorecard: Week 8 CNNMoney.com will continue to track Obama's first 100 days in office and keep score of the government's unprecedented efforts to fix the ailing economy. (Last week's article is available here.)

Business roundtable: Obama defended his budget proposals in a speech to business leaders Thursday, arguing that investing in education, healthcare and energy - even during a recession - will grow the economy over time.

"We know what needs to be done to build an economy that's not just revived from a crisis, but rebuilt for the future," Obama said.

In a speech to the Business Roundtable, Obama highlighted the ways in which his economic policies will benefit corporate America.

Investing in education will ultimately result in a more skilled workforce, while reforming the nation's healthcare system will bring down costs for employers. And shifting to renewable energy will help make American businesses more competitive, he said.

The president also sought to quell fears about public involvement in the private sector as the government increases its ownership of troubled banks and ailing automakers.

"I am a strong believer in the ability of the free market to generate wealth and prosperity that's shared across the board," Obama said.

When the economy is in crisis, however, the government has a responsibility to act, he added.

"Government has to intervene in a crisis, but the goal should always be to right the ship and let private enterprise do its magic," he said.  To top of page

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