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President Barack Obama launched a vigorous defense of his economic agenda Wednesday, rejecting critics who call his policies "socialism" and insisting he aims to boost U.S. competitiveness abroad.
Speaking to the Business Roundtable, which groups some of the country's top chief executives, Obama called for support of his administration's efforts to overhaul financial regulation and create jobs.
Obama's remarks were set against a backdrop of unease in the business community about his economic and budget policies as well as his legislative drive for healthcare, energy and financial regulatory reform.
"Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, I am an ardent believer in the free market," Obama said in prepared remarks.
"We have arrived at a juncture in our politics where reasonable efforts to update our regulations, or make basic investments in our future, are too often greeted with cries of 'government takeover' or even 'socialism'," Obama said.