Bernanke says economic recovery close to faltering

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the economic recovery "is close to faltering" and the central bank is prepared to take further steps to support it.

Bernanke says that the economy is growing more slowly than the Federal Reserve had expected and that the biggest factor depressing consumer confidence is poor job growth.

Bernanke says: "We need to make sure that the recovery continues and doesn't drop back and that the unemployment rate continues to fall downward."

Bernanke also tells the Joint Economic Committee that lawmakers face a delicate challenge: They must avoid making deep spending cuts that could impede the recovery. But he says they must also eventually cut spending more deeply than the $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts being sought by a special panel.