President Barack Obama gave his sternest warning yet about the need to contain rising U.S. deficits, saying on Wednesday that if government debt were to pile up too much, it could lead to a double-dip recession.
With the U.S. unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, Obama told Fox News his administration faces a delicate balance of trying to boost the economy and spur job creation while putting the economy on a path toward long-term deficit reduction.
His administration was considering ways to accelerate economic growth, with tax measures among the options to give companies incentives to hire, Obama said in the interview with Fox conducted in Beijing during his nine-day trip to Asia.
"It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession," he said.
Administration looks to speed job growth
Obama is scheduled to hold a forum with business leaders and financial experts on December 3 to discuss ways to lift the economy.
He said he had not decided yet whether any measures to boost the economy should be deficit neutral, with that being one of the things to be examined at the forum.
"Our first job was to get the economy to recover. And we're now seeing that," Obama said.
"We've seen economic growth (in the third quarter). We anticipate economic growth next quarter as well. I always said the job growth would lag behind economic growth. The question now is how can we accelerate it."
In an interview with Chuck Todd, NBC News political director and chief White House correspondent, Obama said "there are a whole range of ideas out there" about how to kick-start hiring by businesses starting to invest and show profits again.
"We've examined a lot of them but one of the benefits of convening this group is it gives us a chance to talk directly to small businesses, medium-size businesses, the main drivers of employment to find out what exactly is going on."
Asked whether the jobs forum should have been held sooner, Obama said the focus after he took office in January was "to make sure we didn't slip into a Great Depression."
"We've gotten that job done," he told Todd. "Our next job is to make sure that we can accelerate the job growth because I recognize that people are really hurting right now."
'Not an active shareholder' in GM
Obama also underscored Wednesday that his administration did not want to meddle in the decisions of General Motors.
Asked in the Fox News interview if he opposed the use of U.S. government bailout funds for an overseas operation such as Opel, Obama said: "We are not going to meddle in GM's decisions."
"We are a shareholder but we are not an active shareholder," he said while traveling in Asia. "We have specifically said that we are not in the business of running a car company. We're not getting involved in day-to-day management."
Chuck Todd, NBC News political director and chief White House correspondent, and Reuters contributed to this report.