President Barack Obama held the last press conference of his first term on Monday. The President’s swearing-in ceremony will take place in just one week, on January 21, following a private oath of office on January 20.
“Right now, our economy is growing and our businesses are creating new jobs,” Obama said at the beginning of the press conference. “So, we are poised for a good year if we make smart decisions and sound investments, and as long as Washington politics don’t get in the way of America’s progress.”
Jobs have been a central part of the President’s economic plan, and recently the Federal Reserve tied its monetary policy to the U-3 unemployment rate. The Fed has promised to keep its foot on the gas until the official rate hits 6.5 percent, as long as inflation stays below 2.5 percent. At the current rate of 150,000 jobs added per month, many economists, including presidents of the regional Federal Reserve banks, don’t think the rate will drop that low until at least 2014.
In light of the fiscal cliff negotiations, and now pressured by the debt ceiling and delayed sequester, America’s economy has been slow to get back on its feet. Job growth has been suppressed in light of rampant uncertainty, and everybody from consumers to business leaders seem to agree with Obama’s sentiment: 2013 could be a good year, but Washington politics have become a dangerous economic risk. A fiscal cliff solution was found after the eleventh hour, and the debt ceiling deadline is not as soft.