Obama: 'No quick fixes' for recession

President defends his budget, saying his plan is 'inseparable' from overall strategy for economic recovery.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama presented a sober assessment of the state of the economy in his primetime news conference Tuesday, but he insisted his administration has a strategy in place to "attack this crisis on all fronts."

"It took many years and many failures to lead us here. And it will take many months and many different solutions to lead us out. There are no quick fixes, and there are no silver bullets," he said.

"We'll recover from this recession, but it will take time, it will take patience, and it will take an understanding that, when we all work together, when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interest to the wider set of obligations we have towards each other, that's when we succeed," he said.

The president defended his budget, which has come under criticism for its hefty price, saying the plan he proposed is "inseparable" from the overall strategy for economic recovery.

"We've got to make some tough budgetary choices," the president said in his second primetime news conference. "What we can't do, though, is sacrifice long-term growth, investments that are critical to the future, and that's why my budget focuses on health care, energy, education - the kinds of things that can build a foundation for long-term economic growth, as opposed to the fleeting prosperity that we've seen over the last several years."

Obama brushed off skeptics of the scope of his investments, saying, "We haven't seen an alternative budget out of them."

He also reiterated his pledge to cut the deficit in half over the next five years.

Asked whether he would sign a budget that doesn't include a middle-class tax cut, Obama said he has "emphasized repeatedly" what his expectations are.

"I haven't seen yet what provisions are in there," Obama said. "The bottom line is that I want to see health care, energy, education and serious efforts to reduce our budget deficit. And there are going to be details that still need to be worked out."

Obama's appearance came on the heels of the unveiling of the Treasury Department's new bank rescue plan.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday announced a plan to remove troubled assets from banks' books by partnering with private investors.

The goal is to buy at least $500 billion of existing assets and loans, such as subprime mortgages that are now in danger of default. After the announcement of the plan, the stock market rallied, posting the biggest gains in months.

Obama said he supports Geithner's push to seize financial institutions whose failure would pose serious risks to the U.S. financial system.

"Keep in mind that it is precisely because of the lack of this authority that the AIG situation has gotten worse," Obama said, referring to the troubled insurance giant.

It was revealed last week that AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) doled out massive bonuses to executives after receiving more than $170 billion in bailout funds.

Pressed about why he waited three days to publicly speak out against AIG paying the bonuses, Obama told reporters, "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Right now, he said, the American people are judging him as they should: "Are we taking the steps to improve liquidity in the financial markets, create jobs, get businesses to reopen, keep America safe? And that's what I've been spending my time thinking about."

Obama's news conference comes after he made the rounds on television this past week, with an appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes." To top of page

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