Bush talks with European leaders on crisis

October 7, 2008 1:25:47 PM PDT
President Bush sought to assure Americans on Tuesday that the economy will eventually recover from the global financial crisis but he cautioned that it's going to take time and won't be easy. "Right now we're in tough, tough times. No question about it," he said. "Have faith, this economy is going to recover over time," Bush said. "I wish I could snap my fingers and make what happened stop. But that's not the way it works."

With stock markets falling around the world and economic anxieties growing, Bush tried to address the fears of many Americans.

"The days are dim right now for a lot of folks, but I firmly believe tomorrow's going to be brighter," Bush said.

Bush acknowledged the steep drop in retirement funds and other savings.

"I think in the long run they're going to be fine," Bush said. "In the short term they're going to take a hit."

Bush spoke at an office supply company in the Washington suburb of Chantilly, Va., after talks earlier in the day with European leaders. Bush pressed allies to coordinate their efforts to ease the financial crisis spreading around the globe. The White House said Bush was open to the idea of a leaders' summit on the economic upheaval.

The president said the $700 billion rescue plan approved by Congress last week will free up credit lines for businesses and families but that it would not happen immediately. "Thawing the freeze in the financial system is not going to happen overnight," he said.

Bush predicted that taxpayers will eventually recoup most if not all of the $700 billion in the plan. He said there was a "good chance the taxpayers will get their money back."

Bush said that "it's not going to be easy" to fix the economic crisis But he pledged that "we're going to come through this."

"We have been through tough times before and we're going to come through this again," the president said. He said the heart of the problem is a credit crunch. Earlier, Bush talked with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

With unemployment rising and businesses unable to get credit, White House press secretary Dana Perino offered a gloomy forecast for the economy. "Obviously, this next quarter is probably not going to be a very good one," she said. She said Americans are feeling the impact. "They're probably not looking forward to next month's statement, when they get their retirement fund or their college fund bank statement," Perino said.

Perino said the administration was focusing on a meeting at the end of the week of finance ministers from the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan, the so-called G-7. At the same time, she left the door open for Bush to attend an emergency leaders' meeting suggested by Sarkozy.

"The president obviously talked to President Sarkozy about his idea to have a meeting. The president's open to that," she said.

"But the immediate focus is on this weekend's meeting because we're still in a situation where we have an emergency where we need to act today and not worry too much about a meeting," Perino said. "We want to make sure that everyone's on the same page when they get there so that it can be an effective and efficient meeting."

She said the United States was satisfied with the level of cooperation now among European allies on the crisis.

"I think that he would say that it is sufficient and that they are talking and that they're communicating," Perino said. "It's critical that everybody gets on the same page."

"Not everybody has dotted all the i's and crossed the t's yet on their plans," she said. "I think that they're continuing to work on them. So we're satisfied with the level of effort and coordination, but I don't think anybody has an end result yet."