WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama launched a vigorous defense of his economic agenda on Wednesday, rejecting critics who say it amounts to “socialism” and insisting his policies would boost U.S. competitiveness.
“Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, I am an ardent believer in the free market,” Obama said in prepared remarks to the Business Roundtable, a group of top corporate executives.
Struggling to reverse a drop in his popularity among political independents, he said his efforts to enact sweeping legislation to overhaul financial regulations and set caps on carbon emissions to fight climate change were not aimed at thwarting businesses. Obama pledged to work with the private sector to reinvigorate growth.
But he added, “We have arrived at a juncture in our politics where reasonable efforts to update our regulations, or make basic investments in our future, are too often greeted with cries of ‘government takeover’ or even ‘socialism.'”