Obama shifts focus to jobs and taxes, away from debt talks

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

President Barack Obama appeared in the Rose Garden this afternoon, shortly after the Senate approved the debt-ceiling deal. He called on Washington to help jump start the U.S. economy.

“Both parties share power in Washington, and both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy,” Obama said. That responsibility, he added, “ought to be enough to get all of us in this town to do the jobs we were sent here to do.”

In his brief statement, the president tried to shift the subject from the debt ceiling fight to job creation. He also showcased some of his themes for the coming 2012 race.

These themes included an effort to portray himself as the people’s champion in a partisan, gridlocked Washington, and his description of the economy as hobbled by outside forces including street riots in Syria, the earthquake in Japan, the rising price of oil, and partisan disputes in Washington. “These are things we could not control,” Obama said.

“It’s pretty likely that the uncertainty surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling — for both businesses and consumers — has been unsettling, and just one more impediment to the full recovery that we need … it was something that we could have avoided entirely,“ Obama said from the podium.

The president described the debt ceiling deal as a down payment on deficit reduction, and said he would use the second stage of the deal to push for a “balanced approach,” ensuring that wealthy companies and individuals pay more in taxes. In the second stage, a 12-member congressional committee will draft plans to reduce federal deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

“Everyone is going to have to chip in … That’s the principle I’ll be fighting for in the next phase of this process,” he said.

Senate Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, championed the same pivot away from budget talks and toward job creation. (RELATED: Debt deal passes Senate, moves along to President Obama)

“The number one job for Congress is creating jobs for the American people,” Reid told reporters during a Capitol Hill press conference, only a few minutes before the president walked to the Rose garden.