Obama adviser: 'Some optimism' for expecting US economy to strengthen

Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, hopes Republicans' tactic of contesting each increase of the national debt ceiling is permanently 'off the table.' He also offers cautious hope that the economy will keep improving.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
Gene Sperling, director of President Obama's National Economic Council, speaks during a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters, Feb. 11, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

Gene Sperling has served as director of the National Economic Council for President Bill Clinton and President Obama. He spoke at the Feb. 11 Monitor Breakfast.

The economic outlook:

"There's reason for some optimism that the economy is continuing to strengthen, and time will tell which of the mixed results we saw [in job creation and manufacturing orders] are more accurate."

GOP criticism of newly announced delays in rolling out "Obamacare" provisions for employers with 50 to 99 workers:

"I find it unusual that the president goes out of his way ... to have a smoother transition to new policies with less disruption for small businesses and Republicans are complaining."

Speaker John Boehner's decision to raise the federal debt ceiling without policy attachments:

"Our hope [is] ... that the tactic of threatening default or threatening the full faith and credit of the United States for budget debates is over, off the table...."

How his experiences differed in the Clinton and Obama administrations:

"In the Clinton administration, what was often most difficult was having [to deal with] a unified and strong opposition.... This time around, you learn the challenges of having a divided opposition...."

Working at the Treasury Department during the financial crisis:

"You feel like you are condensing six months into a day or a week."

Why Washington did not bail out Detroit:

"We did not feel that we had any available financial tools...."

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