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Obama’s New Year’s resolution? Fix the economy, stupid

By JEFF MASON
January 2, 2011

Obama: Just fix the economy and everything will be find

President Barack Obama has set his New Year‘s resolution high for 2011: repair the struggling economy.

In his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, the vacationing president said recent data showed the economic recovery was gaining traction even as millions of Americans are still out of work.

“Our most important task now is to keep that recovery going,” Obama said. “As president, that’s my commitment to you: to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class. That’s my resolution for the coming year.”

Unemployment of nearly 10 percent and dissatisfaction with Obama’s efforts to spur an economic recovery from the worst recession in decades helped fuel Republican victories in congressional elections in November.

Republicans will control the House of Representatives this year and Democrats will have a smaller majority in the Senate, a new political reality that will affect Obama’s ability to push through his policy priorities.

The president, who forged a deal with Republicans to extend Bush-era tax cuts in the waning days of 2010, sought to strike a bipartisan note in his address.

“In a few days, a new Congress will form, with one house controlled by Democrats, and one house controlled by Republicans — who now have a shared responsibility to move this country forward,” he said.

“I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through.”

TACKLING DEBT

One area where Democrats and Republicans will be challenged to work together is on deficit and debt reduction.

Senator-elect Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, said her party was ready to spearhead that effort.

“Congress must get serious about meaningful debt reduction,” she said in the weekly Republican address.

“This isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem — it’s an American problem that will require tough decision-making from both parties. Republicans are ready to lead that fight.”

Obama, who arrives back in Washington on Tuesday, will have a new top economic adviser soon to help navigate the country’s economic challenges. He is expected to name a replacement shortly for Larry Summers, who held the job for the first two years of his presidency.

With Republicans gearing up for the 2012 presidential race, worries about the economy and U.S. deficit are likely to take center stage in the process of finding a candidate to challenge Obama, who is expected to run for a second White House term.

Ayotte signaled that Republicans would take credit for the deal with Obama to extend tax relief as one key ingredient in boosting economic growth.

“With millions of Americans unemployed or under-employed, we must work quickly to jumpstart our economy,” she said.

“The successful Republican effort to prevent any income tax hikes on families and small businesses over the next two years was an important first step.”

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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