Obama piles pressure on Congress
WASHINGTON US President Barack Obama stepped up pressure on Congress on Saturday, urging lawmakers to pass a string of bills designed to help grow the economy and create more jobs — after a new uptick in the nation’s unemployment rate.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president noted that the US economy, while recovering, was still facing “some serious headwinds.” “Gas prices are starting to come down again, but when they spiked over the last few months, it hit people’s wallets pretty hard,” Obama said.
“The crisis in Europe’s economy has cast a shadow on our own. And all of this makes it even more challenging to fully recover and lay the foundation for an economy that’s built to last.” The comments came as the US unemployment rate rose for the first time in almost a year, spelling more trouble for Obama’s re-election.
The jobless rate ticked up to 8.2 percent, against expectations that it would hold steady at April’s 8.1 percent. It was the first rise since June 2011, when it climbed to 9.1 percent from 9.0 percent.
The data came just five months ahead of the November 6 presidential election amid a campaign dominated by concerns about the slow, fragile recovery.
Obama acknowledged the situation by saying that the economy and the job market were not growing “fast enough.” But he put the blame on Congress, which, in his words, hasn’t acted on many of his ideas “that would make a difference and help create jobs right now.” Obama recalled that last September, he sent to Congress a broad bill that would have put more Americans back to work and helped reinforce the US economy.
But Congress, the president pointed out, has only passed a few parts of that bill.
According to the president, lawmakers should pass bills to help states prevent more layoffs, put thousands of construction workers back on the job, and give homeowners the opportunity to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage.
“Now is not the time for Congress to sit on its hands,” the president said. “The American people expect their leaders to work hard, no matter what year it is. That’s what I intend to do.”