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Obama Spells Out His 'Number One Priority'

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is promoting the work he's done in what he's calling his "Year of Action."

In his weekly radio and online address Saturday, the president says he's taken more than 20 executive actions to help the economy. The White House paired the address with a 28-page progress report detailing each action.

With midterm elections six months away, Obama is criticizing congressional Republicans for blocking a minimum wage increase and other parts of his economic agenda. House Speaker John Boehner's office responds that if Obama really wants to create jobs, he'd approve the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

In the Republican address, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says Obama should be imposing tougher sanctions on Russia over unrest in Ukraine.

Read the president's remarks below, or watch his address above (via The White House):

Hi, everybody. My number one priority as President is doing whatever I can to create more jobs and opportunity for hardworking families. And yesterday, we learned that businesses added 273,000 jobs last month. All told, our businesses have now created 9.2 million new jobs over 50 consecutive months of job growth.

But we need to keep going – to create more good jobs, and give middle-class families a sense of security. And I want to work with Congress to do it.

But so far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every serious idea to create jobs and strengthen the middle class. They’ve said “no” to raising the minimum wage, “no” to equal pay for equal work, and “no” to restoring the unemployment insurance they let expire for more than two million Americans looking for a new job.

That’s not what we need right now. Not when there are still too many folks out of work and too many families working harder than ever just to get by.

That’s why, in my State of the Union Address, I said that in this Year of Action, whenever I can act on my own to create jobs and expand opportunity for more Americans, I will. And since January, I’ve taken more than 20 executive actions to do just that.

I acted to raise more workers’ wages by requiring that workers on new federal contracts earn a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – and as long as Republicans in Congress refuse to act, I’ll keep working with cities, states, and businesses to give more Americans a raise. I acted to encourage more pay transparency and strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws, so that more women have the tools they need to earn fair pay. And I’m modernizing regulations to make sure that more Americans who work overtime get the pay that they’ve earned. I’ve launched new hubs to help attract more high-tech manufacturing jobs to America – and ordered a reform of job training programs to make sure more Americans can earn the skills that employers need right now. I’ve brought together business leaders to help us connect more classrooms to high-speed internet, and give more of the long-term unemployed a better shot at finding a job.

Each of these steps will make a difference. You can check out the full list at whitehouse.gov.

But we could do a lot more if Republicans in Congress were less interested in stacking the deck in favor of those at the top, and more interested in growing the economy for everybody. They’ve now voted more than 50 times to take apart the Affordable Care Act – imagine if they voted 50 times on serious jobs bills.

That’s why I’m going to take action on my own wherever I can. To grow our economy from the middle-out, not the top down. To give every American who works hard a chance to get ahead.

That’s what this Year of Action is all about, and that’s what I’m going to keep fighting for.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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