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Bloomberg's Jobs Speech: Praises Tax Deal, Pushes For Immigration Reform, Criticizes Health Care Law

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WASHINGTON -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a speech on Tuesday outlining six steps to tackle unemployment and spur job creation, arguing that the current national solution of "splitting the difference between Democratic and Republican positions" is "thinking too small." Although Bloomberg repeatedly insists he is not planning to run for the country's highest office in 2012, his presidential-sounding address at the Brooklyn Navy Yard will no doubt fuel further speculation.

Bloomberg's breakfast speech touted the successes in New York City and chastised the denizens of Washington, D.C. -- Republicans, Democrats, bloggers and pundits -- for feeding partisan politics and "a 24-hour news cycle that values conflict over consensus, rewarding people at the extremes who scream the loudest."

"The current barriers standing in the wary of innovation and job creation are much more political than economic," he said in his speech, co-sponsored by the Association for a Better New York and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. "We need change, and whether the recent elections will be a cure for America's economic problems -- or just another symptom of our dysfunctional politics -- remains to be seen."

Bloomberg even criticized some of President Obama's signature achievements, including the economic stimulus and the health care bill, saying that they don't go far enough to stimulate innovation.

"Unfortunately, very little of the stimulus package passed in Washington promotes innovation," said Bloomberg. "Very little of the health care bill passed in Washington promotes innovation. And the Obama administration will have to be very careful to make sure that the financial services bill passed this year doesn't hinder innovation."

He praised the tax cut deal worked out between Obama and congressional Republicans, calling it "encouraging" news, but adding that cutting the deficit will be far harder. "The Deficit Reduction Commission offered a good start, but it's disappointing that Congress is choosing not to debate its recommendations."

Republicans didn't get off the hook in Bloomberg's criticisms either, "At the same time, despite what ideologues on the right believe, government should not stand aside and wait for the business cycle to run its natural course," he stated. "That would be intolerable, given the enormous unemployment we face, and the worsening job prospects for the 15 million people who are trying to find work."

"This is not to say that we should try splitting the difference between Democratic and Republican positions -- that's thinking too small," he continued. "While it's true there are no simple solutions to complex problems, fortunately there are solutions that can get us out of this mess, that can be embraced by those across the political spectrum, and that can start us on the road to longer-term sustainable recovery."

Bloomberg's solutions involve six steps: 1) Instill confidence, 2) promote trade, 3) reform regulations, 4) cut business taxes, 5) invest in job training and 6) fix immigration.

Bloomberg has been especially outspoken on the national stage on the last point. In June, he launched a coalition of CEOs -- which includes News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch and Disney's Bob Iger -- to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

"In New York, we know the economic power of immigration -- because we see it every day," he said in Tuesday's speech. "Nearly 40 percent of city residents were born outside the U.S., and beyond the cultural, religious, and civic contributions they make to our city -- they do something else: they work. They start businesses. They create jobs. They pay taxes. We need more of that, not less."

Bloomberg also announced that his administration will open 10 new Workforce One Express Centers around New York City over the next year. These locations will focus on screening and matching jobseekers to jobs, partnering with community colleges, public libraries and neighborhood organizations in areas of high unemployment.

On Monday, Bloomberg called for reforms in New York's voting system, saying, "Our voting process policies are the worst of any state in the nation."

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