President Obama on Wednesday admitted to two mistakes he made on the economy, using the first-ever “Twitter Town Hall” to confess that he has found the housing crisis more “stubborn” than he expected and that he could have better prepared the country for how long the economic pain would persist.
Contending that on most issues he did “the right thing,” those were the only two negative areas he cited in response to a question posed in Twitter’s trademark brevity (using only 46 of the allowed 140 characters): “What mistakes have you made in handling the recession?”
There are, he said, “probably two things that I would do differently. One would have been to explain to the American people that it was going to take a while for us to get out of this.”
He said he was surprised—along with most economists—at the severity of the economic crisis that greeted him when he was sworn in. “Even I did not realize the magnitude because most economists didn’t realize the magnitude of the recession until fairly far into it,” he said.
The public, he said, “may not have been prepared for this.” And that, he said, is his fault, “because setting people’s expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well.”
On housing, he said he did not anticipate “the continuing decline in the housing market.” Calling it a “big drag” on the overall economy, he said, “We’ve had to revamp our housing program several times to try to help people stay in their homes and try to start lifting home values up.”