Obama: Iran sanctions have 'enormous bite'

By Ben Feller

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Nov. 13 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

The president challenged China to let its currency appreciate more rapidly and to end measures that take unfair advantage of foreign intellectual property.

"It's time for them to go ahead and move toward a market-based system for their currency," he said. "There is concern across the political spectrum that the playing field is not level right now."

He said he understood that exporters in China like the system as it is now because it makes Chinese products cheaper overseas and makes changes in the currency difficult politically in China. "I understand it, but the United States and other countries feel that enough is enough."

On the status of deficit talks in Congress, Obama urged lawmakers to reach consensus, complaining that they were continuing to stick with "rigid positions" rather than solving the problem.

A committee in charge of cutting the deficit has until Nov. 23 to agree on how to reduce it by at least $1.2 trillion in the next decade. Any amount less than that would be made up in automatic across-the-board cuts divided evenly between defense and domestic programs.

Obama refused to say whether he would veto any effort to bypass the deep cuts in defense and other spending that would take effect if there is no deal forthcoming from Congress.

He said he hopes lawmakers will "bite the bullet and do what needs to be done,' but voiced frustration with what he said was a desire by some members of Congress to "want to keep jiggering the math" to get a different outcome.

The president rejected a suggestion that he might end up with almost nothing to show from Congress on his jobs bill, saying he'd keep working to get it done even if it took past next year's election.

"My expectation is that we will get some of it done now, and I'll keep on pushing until we get all of it done," Obama said. "And that may take me all the way til November to get it all done. And it may take a new Congress to get it all done."

Obama sidestepped a question about his conversation more than a week ago with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the G20 summit, in which reporters overheard Sarkozy calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "liar," and Obama replying "I have to work with him every day." Obama wouldn't comment on the language -- but did say he voiced "significant disappointment" to Sarkozy about France's vote to admit Palestine as a member of the U.N. cultural organization. After the vote, the U.S. cut its funding for UNESCO.

Obama said the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State has an important message for institutions far beyond college sports: that protecting children is more important than shielding institutions. He called the case, which ended the career of longtime head coach Joe Paterno, "heartbreaking."

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