Jobs to be top focus in the fall

Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:01 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Discussions about jobs shoved aside debt ceiling talk just minutes after the U.S. Senate passed a bill raising the debt limit and cutting the federal deficit.

President Obama pledged Tuesday he would "fight for what the American people care most about: new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth."

Congressional party leaders also staked claims to growing the economy and job creation in their port-mortems on compromise legislation that will allow the debt ceiling to be raised while cutting the federal deficit, pulling the country back from the brink of losing its borrowing authority and risking default.

Voters may have elected a divided government, "but they sure didn't vote for dysfunctional government. They want us to solve problems. They want us to get this economy growing and adding jobs," the Democratic president said.

When Congress returns from its August recess, Obama said, "I will urge them to immediately take some steps, bipartisan, common sense steps that will make a difference."

Obama ticked off a list of initiatives he said would stimulate the economy and jobs, including extending tax cuts for middle class families and jobless benefits, patent reform, passage of trade agreements and rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.

"It shouldn't take the risk of default, the risk of economic catastrophe, to get folks in this town to work together and do their jobs," Obama said, "because there's already a quiet crisis going on in the lives of a lot of families in a lot of communities all across the country."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., echoed Obama's words. "Now it's time for Congress to get back to our regularly scheduled programming -- and that means jobs," he said.

Now that the debt ceiling-deficit reduction issue has been resolved, "jobs won't have to play second fiddle to the deficit anymore," Schumer said. "We welcome this chance to shift the playing field to jobs."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said lawmakers must do more for American families.

"Today we made sure America can pay its bills," the Nevada Democrat said. "Now time to make sure Americans can pay theirs."

Senate Republicans also said they welcomed the chance to discuss jobs because, as Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona put it, "Republicans have never taken our eye off of job creation."

"I'm often asked, 'What would you do to get the economy going?'" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. "My answer is always the same: We need to quite doing what we've been doing. Quit borrowing. Quit spending. Quit trying to raise taxes. Quit over-regulating and let the private sector flourish so we have a chance again to have a growing economy which of course will produce more revenue for the government. So that ought to be our single focus -- not only at home during the recess -- but when we come back here."

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