Political Notebook

Paring deficits as important as creating jobs, Obama says

Associated Press / January 31, 2010

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WASHINGTON - Trimming budget deficits is as important as creating jobs to sustain the economic recovery, President Obama said yesterday.

The government reported Friday the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the final three months of 2009. It was the second consecutive quarter of growth and the fastest rate in more than six years.

“A sign of progress,’’ Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “But as we work to create jobs, it is critical that we rein in the budget deficits we’ve been accumulating for far too long.’’

Hammered by Republicans for billions of dollars in spending that added to the deficit, Obama outlined steps he said would rein in spending. They include rules requiring that spending or tax cuts be offset by cuts to other programs or tax increases, a freeze on most discretionary spending, and a presidentially appointed commission to recommend ways to reduce the deficit.

Obama said “pay-as-you-go’’ rules that were in place in the 1990s led to surpluses at the end of the decade. But after Congress eliminated the rules, Obama said the result was the $1.3 trillion deficit he faced upon taking office in January 2009.

The Senate voted Thursday to reinstate the rules. The House must still act on the measure.

Republicans yesterday continued to criticize the administration’s handling of the suspect in the Christmas airline bomb plot.

Giving the GOP’s weekly address, Senator Susan Collins of Maine noted that the Nigerian suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was questioned for 50 minutes without being given a Miranda warning and that when he was advised of his rights, refused to speak further. He was treated as a criminal defendant, not as an “enemy combatant,’’ she said.

Presidential commentary at Duke-Georgetown game
WASHINGTON - There was a familiar voice behind the microphone during the Duke-Georgetown basketball game - Barack Obama’s.

The president, attending as a fan, provided about seven minutes of nationally televised hoops commentary in the second half of yesterday’s matchup of two top 10 teams at the Verizon Center near the White House.

Shortly after the second half began, the president was seated between CBS announcers Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg. Obama, an avid fan of the sport who often plays pickup games, seemed to impress the pair.