WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to put politics aside when lawmakers return from their recess in September and pass a series of initiatives the president says will spur job growth.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama said Washington's urgent mission is to get the economy growing faster and create jobs. The latest jobs report released Friday was better than expected, with the economy adding 117,000 jobs and the unemployment rate ticking down a notch to 9.1 percent.
"Our job right now has to be doing whatever we can to help folks find work, to help create the climate where a business can put up that job listing, where incomes are rising again for people," Obama said.
The steps the president wants Congress to take include extending payroll tax cuts for another year, passing three free trade agreements and enacting patent reform. All of the measures are proposals the president has called for previously.
Obama's weekly address capped a week that began with lawmakers and the White House reaching a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling and avert a potentially catastrophic government default. The deal also cuts federal spending by $2.1 trillion or more over the next decade.
Late Friday, however, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' AAA credit rating for the first time in history, a move that could push interest rates higher and further unsettle the economy.
Obama, who recorded his address before S&P's move, said that while the debt-ceiling deal makes some progress in reducing the nation's deficit, both parties are going to have to work together on a larger plan to get the country's finances in order.
In the weekly Republican address, New York Rep. Michael Grimm said the debt deal legislation was far from perfect and the cuts did not go far enough. Grimm, who voted for the bill, called on lawmakers to follow it up with a balanced-budget constitutional amendment this fall, saying it was the best way to provide certainty to the private sector and control long-term spending.
Grimm also said that the jobs report out Friday proves that Obama's policies are not working. He said the GOP's jobs plan calls for a simpler and fairer tax code, a reduction in regulations and an expansion of U.S. energy production.
Obama address: www.whitehouse.gov
GOP address: www.youtube.com/houseconference