Obama blames Americans for 2009 drop in foreign investment

President Barack Obama told an international audience that Americans’ economic difficulties are caused, in part, by laziness, and the cure is more centralized government.

“We’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,” and so we have failed to do enough to attract foreign investment, the president said, Saturday in Hawaii during a scripted conversation with Boeing CEO James McNerney, Jr. at a summit for Pacific-region business leaders.

The criticism of other Americans is similar to Obama’s previous remarks blaming American citizens and politicians, especially President George W. Bush, for the slow economic recovery during his three years in office.

In September, Obama told a Florida interviewer that “this is a great country that had gotten a little soft, and we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades.”

Foreign investment in the United States climbed rapidly from the late 1990s to 2001. Foreign investment in the U.S. then fell from roughly $300 billion to below $100 billion during 2003, according to a February report issue by the Congressional Research Service titled “Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: An Economic Analysis.”

However, foreign investment in the US recovered to $300 billion per year some time during Bush’s second term, before declining to roughly $150 billion per year in 2009 with Obama in the White House.

In Hawaii, Obama said that America’s federal government is a hindrance to his preferred cure. “Because of our federalist system, sometimes a foreign investor comes in and they’ve got to navigate not only federal rules, but they’ve also got to navigate state and local governments that may have their own sets of interests.”

Later on during his speech the president said, “One of things that my administration has done is set up something called SelectUSA that organizes all the government agencies to work with state and local governments where they’re seeking assistance from us … We think that we can do much better than we’re doing right now.”

Obama declared Saturday, his foreign policy is prompting other countries to see the United States as an ally again. “One of the things that I’m very encouraged about is the eagerness of countries to see the U.S. reengaged in this [Pacific]… the news I have to deliver for the American people is American leadership is still welcome.”

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