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Ben Bernanke: Economy is 'Vulnerable'

By: CNN
By: CNN

Some predictions are easy to read: in Pennsylvania, a groundhog's shadow indicated six more weeks of winter.

Forecasting the economy gets more complicated as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress things are improving...gradually.

"The pace of this recovery has been frustratingly slow, particularly from the perspective of millions of workers who remain unemployed or underemployed," he said.

Bernanke added that the economy remains "vulnerable to shocks," and that's political red meat in an election year.

"It's clear that the president's policies are not only not helping the economy, it's making it worse," said House Speaker John Boehner.

A government jobs report due out Friday is expected to show the economy added 130,000 jobs last month, but there was a slowdown in hiring in December and the unemployment rate is expected to rise to 8.6 percent.

At the national prayer breakfast, President Obama pushed for shared responsibility, such as higher taxes for the wealthy.

"If I'm willing to give something up as someone who's been extremely blessed, give up some of the tax benefits I enjoy, I think it will help the economy," he said.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told a Las Vegas crowd he disagrees.

"Obama thinks he's so smart he could come here and take from the overly-happy to redistribute to the underly-happy. That's nonsense."

Ben Bernanke reiterated that the Fed expects to keep interest rates at historic lows through the end of 2014.

It's a sign the government thinks full recovery could be three years away, long after voters choose their president.


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