President Barack Obama is shifting his administration's emphasis to battling unemployment, the scourge that is hurting households nationwide and threatening to inflict heavy losses on Democrats in November's elections.
In the process, he and his allies in Congress intend to force Republicans, through a series of upcoming votes, to choose between Wall Street's high fliers and Main Street's middle-class workers. With Democrats struggling to deliver on big promises such as overhauling health care, they hope their increasingly populist tone _coupled with Republican resistance to two Democratic-crafted, deficit-reduction proposals — will prevent wavering voters from drifting to the GOP.
President Barack Obama said Saturday that trimming budget deficits is as important as creating jobs, his top domestic priority this year, to continue the economic recovery that appears under way.
The government reported Friday the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the final three months of 2009. It was the second consecutive quarter of growth and the fastest rate in more than six years.
"A sign of progress," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "But as we work to create jobs, it is critical that we rein in the budget deficits we've been accumulating for far too long."
Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke won confirmation to a second term as the US central banker, despite sharp attacks on his role before the 2008 financial meltdown and in its aftermath.
After a bitter debate that roiled global stock markets, the US Senate voted 70-30 to approve Bernanke after easily dispatching an effort to block the nomination days before his term was to expire on Sunday.
President Barack Obama declared himself "gratified" by the vote and said Bernanke was needed because "while the worst of the storm has passed, its devastation remains and we have a lot of work to do to rebuild our economy."
President Barack Obama is taking another swing at offering tax credits to companies that hire new workers, a plan that drew a cool reception from Congress last month despite the nation's high unemployment rate.
With polls showing that jobs are Americans' top priority, Obama cited the retooled plan in his State of the Union address, and he is to detail it Friday when he visits a small business and speaks to House Republicans meeting in Baltimore.
His proposal would give companies a $5,000 tax credit for each net new worker they hire in 2010. Businesses that increase wages or hours for their existing workers in 2010 would be reimbursed for the extra Social Security payroll taxes they would pay.
Declaring "I don't quit," President Barack Obama fought to recharge his embattled presidency with a State of the Union vow to get jobless millions back to work and stand on the side of Americans angry at Wall Street greed and Washington bickering. Defiant despite stinging setbacks, he said he would fight on for ambitious overhauls of health care, energy and education.
"Change has not come fast enough," Obama acknowledged Wednesday night before a politician-packed House chamber and a TV audience of millions. "As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth."
The White House has released the full text of President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address, as prepared for delivery:
Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.
The U.S. budget outlook is "daunting," with deficits stuck at levels not seen since World War Two, congressional forecasters said on Tuesday in a report that lays out the challenge facing President Barack Obama as he seeks to boost the economy while cutting spending.
Obama, struggling in opinion polls, is expected to propose a three-year freeze on many domestic spending programs -- a measure that would make only a small dent -- and outline other measures to try to tame record budget deficits in his State of the Union speech on Wednesday.
Obama could find skeptics among his fellow Democrats in Congress, who aim to bring down the nation's 10 percent unemployment rate through additional spending before the November congressional elections.
President Barack Obama's push to create jobs includes a new tax credit for small businesses that add employees, an idea that has appeal as the nation struggles with an unemployment rate topping 10 percent.
It is an idea, however, that fell flat in Congress when Obama first proposed it last year because lawmakers didn't know how to target the credit effectively. The Obama administration still hasn't provided details on how the tax credit would work, and some tax experts question whether it would.
With his Presidency threatened and his agenda under assault, President Barack Obama is working overtime to reinvent himself and recapture the campaign magic that propelled him into office in 2008.
Obama is moving to assume control not only of his agenda but also of the Democratic party in an effort to stave off disaster in the upcoming midterm elections.
With the Democrats' 60-vote "veto proof" majority already lost in the Senate, the President and his party now worry that further losses in November could not only cripple the present agenda but also put a second term in doubt.
President Barack Obama, two days after signaling retreat on a massive health care overhaul, discounted the small-bore approach Friday and pledged to press for ambitious changes despite running into a "bit of a buzz saw" of opposition.
Even as the president sought to bring the public and nervous Democrats back on board, a leading member of his party suggested Congress slow it down on health care, a sign of eroding political will in the wake of Tuesday's Republican election upset in Massachusetts.
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who ushered the overhaul legislation through the Senate's health committee last year after the death of his friend, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, said Obama and lawmakers could "maybe take a breather for a month, six weeks."