WASHINGTON — The economic crisis that hit industrial states with heavy manufacturing bases built up over decades and will take years to reverse, President Barack Obama told The (Toledo) Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the eve of the next G-20 meeting.
"If you think about what's happening in Ohio and the manufacturing base that employed so many people, the decline in that sector of the economy took decades," the President said. "And reversing that and rebuilding it is going to take two decades as well."
The president said it's important to have policies in place that will help manufacturing companies that are trying to rebound sell their products at home and overseas.
Obama says there is good news in the success Toledo has had becoming a national hub for solar energy research and manufacturing.
"That market we know is going to grow," the president said.
He also praised Pittsburgh as a world-class city chosen to host the G-20 summit because it is a success story of the changing U.S. economy.
The G-20 is a group of industrialized and developing countries that comes together to discuss global economic issues.
Obama made his comments to editors with The Blade and Post-Gazette Friday in Washington, along with Blade and Post-Gazette publisher John Robinson Block.
U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, a Republican from Bowling Green, Ohio, said the president's prediction of a long recovery was troubling.
"We don't have two decades," Latta said. "There are people out there hanging on by their fingernails."
The president said Pittsburgh was chosen as the G-20 site to show the world its successful economic transition and to display how America's future rests not just on its most populous cities.
Pittsburgh "has transformed itself, after some very tough times, into a city that's competing in the world economy," Obama said.
Pittsburgh officials expect thousands of protesters to use the summit to draw attention to everything from the environment to social injustice.
Obama told the newspapers that despite his roots as a community organizer, he's not a big fan of mass protests.
"Focusing on concrete, local, immediate issues that have an impact on people's lives is what really makes a difference," he said.
By contrast, a protest about a more abstract issue such as global capitalism, "generally is not really going to make much of a difference," the president said.