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Obama: Economy Growing Again, but Progress ‘Painfully Slow’

President Obama said Friday at a nationally televised news conference that economic progress has been “painfully slow,” but investments in business, education and technology will help make America more competitive in the global economy.

“While the economy is growing again…the hole in the recession left was huge and progress has been painfully slow,” he said.

The president touted a series of proposed tax credits and programs to let businesses write off investments in 2011, along with a six-year plan to rebuild roads, railways and airport runways, and put people in the construction industry back to work.

President Obama also named Austan Goolsbee as the new head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers to replace Christina Romer, who returned to her old teaching post at the University of California at Berkeley.

Goolsbee is “not just a brilliant economist, he’s someone who has a deep appreciation of how the economy affects everyday people,” Mr. Obama said.

Watch the first part of the White House news conference:

Updated at 12:12 p.m.

President Obama also spoke of Saturday’s anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, and a Florida pastor’s threats to burn the Quran to mark the event.

“The idea that someone would burn the sacred texts of another religion is contrary to what this country stands for,” said Mr. Obama. The threats put U.S. soldiers abroad in harm’s way and is a recruiting tool for al-Qaida, he said.

Afghanistan served as a base for al-Qaida to launch the attacks that killed 3,000, the president said, and U.S. forces are there to dismantle it as a base for further assaults.

When asked how he could continue dealing with a government under Afghan President Hamid Karzai that is accused of corruption, President Obama said everytime he speaks with Karzai, he says the only way to have a stable government is if the Afghan people feel it is looking out for them, and that means eliminating corruption.

“Is it going to happen overnight? Probably not,” he said.

On the Mideast peace process, the president said he remains hopeful that talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be constructive, though there are “enormous hurdles.”

He said he urged the two leaders to start thinking about how they can help the other succeed, rather than making them fail.

Watch the entire Q&A portion of the press conference here:

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