Obama defends handling of the US economy

* Obama says economy moving in right direction

* More hard days ahead

* Election-year pressure to create jobs

By Alister Bull

KANSAS CITY, July 8 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama on
Thursday defended his handling of the U.S. economy and said his
policies would boost job growth, as he began a two-day swing to
campaign for Democrats in November’s congressional elections.

Obama has come under fire for bank and auto bailouts and a
$787 billion stimulus whose effectiveness is a subject of
ongoing debate. He is under election-year pressure to reduce a
9.5 percent unemployment rate.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Obama said at a Kansas City
electric car factory. “But what is absolutely clear is we’re
moving in the right direction.”

Obama was raise cash for the U.S. Senate campaigns of two
Democrats — Robin Carnahan of Missouri and Senate Majority
Harry Reid of Nevada. He was attending a pair of Carnahan
events before traveling to Las Vegas.

Reid is engaged in a tough fight Reid despite being the
most powerful Democrat in the Senate, a sign of an election
year in which many incumbents are running for their political
lives.

Obama, who will face a tougher audience for his agenda if
Republican make big gains in November, is trying to convince
impatient Americans that his economic policies are in fact
working and that improvements will take time.

“Now obviously, the progress we’ve made isn’t nearly enough
to undo all the damage that was done as a consequence of the
economic crisis,” he said.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for
grabs in the Nov. 2 elections as well as 36 Senate seats.
Democrats hold a clear edge in the 100-member Senate over
Republicans, who need a near sweep of all the competitive races
to pick up the 10 seats they need to gain control.

ELECTRIC CARS

Obama pointed to the Kansas City electric car factory,
Smith Electric, as an example of how his policies are paying
off. It received $32 million in funding from his stimulus plan
and recently hired a 50th worker.

“The surest way out of this storm is to go forward, not to
go backwards,” he said, while noting: “There are going to be
some hard days ahead, That’s the truth. It’s going to take a
while for us to dig ourselves out of this hole.”

Missouri’s unemployment was 9.3 percent in May, a touch
lower than the national average, but Obama must still convince
voters his policies to create jobs are working, and overcome
concerns over a record deficit and rising debts.

Public doubt over spending more taxpayer money on top of a
$787 billion emergency spending plan Obama signed in 2009 has
frustrated his administration’s efforts to get congressional
backing for additional stimulus measures.

This is despite concern that U.S. growth might flag as that
stimulus fades, reinforced by a disappointing June jobs report
that showed the economy lost 125,000 jobs last month.

The House voted last week to extend unemployment aid to
millions of long-term unemployed Americans, but similar
measures have been thwarted by the Senate and there is no
guarantee this legislation will fare better.

The latest Gallup tracking poll had Obama’s job approval
rating at 44 percent, compared to 48 percent who disapproved.
(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan and Matt Spetalnick;
Writing by Steve Holland; Editing by David Storey)

Obama defends handling of the US economy