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After debt fight, Obama moves to jobs

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U.S. President Barack Obama discusses the debt ceiling bill, passed by the Senate today and the House yesterday, which averts a U.S. default on its loans in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on August 2, 2011. Today was the deadline to raise the debt ceiling or face default. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/e6a1e0d218caa9d8259b6e54cf653bcf/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.S. President Barack Obama discusses the debt ceiling bill, passed by the Senate today and the House yesterday, which averts a U.S. default on its loans in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on August 2, 2011. Today was the deadline to raise the debt ceiling or face default. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama said he would move beyond the U.S. debt-limit fight and tackle job creation as Washington was about to release its latest jobs report.

"In the coming months, I'll continue ... to fight for what the American people care most about -- new jobs, higher wages and faster economic growth," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate approved a plan to raise the federal debt limit and cut government spending, ending a bitter partisan standoff.

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"While Washington has been absorbed in this debate about deficits, people across the country are asking, What can we do to help the father looking for work? What are we going to do for the single mom who's seen her hours cut back at the hospital? What are we going to do to make it easier for businesses to put up that 'now hiring' sign?"

Facing re-election in 15 months, and with unemployment at 9.2 percent, Obama called on Congress to extend unemployment-insurance benefits and a payroll-tax credit for employees.

He urged lawmakers to approve a patent overhaul, free-trade deals and an infrastructure-funding bank.

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"There's no reason for Congress not to send me those bills so I can sign them into law right away, as soon as they get back from recess," he said.

The Senate, which finished its legislative business Tuesday, is in recess until Sept. 6. The House, which wrapped up its work Monday, returns Sept. 7.

"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.

"Both parties share power in Washington and both parties need to take responsibility for improving this economy," he said, vowing to offer ideas "in the weeks ahead to help companies hire, invest and expand."

Republican lawmakers had no immediate comment on Obama's remarks.

Senate and House Republicans have their own jobs agendas for the fall. They include trade agreements and a patent bill as well as longer-term goals such as reducing government regulations, increasing energy production and reducing individual and corporate tax rates.

"Every meeting I'm in talks about the regulatory burden that we're experiencing throughout the American economy -- massive increases in regulation," USA Today quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as saying.

The U.S. Labor Department is expected to release its July jobs report Friday, with many economists forecasting the unemployment rate would remain at 9.2 percent and new jobs created would show a net growth of 90,000 to 120,000 -- 120,000 to 150,000 jobs in the private sector and a loss of 30,000 government jobs, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Employers added 18,000 new jobs in June, the Labor Department said, with the private sector creating 57,000 positions and the government cutting 39,000.

The unemployment rate rose that month from 9.1 percent in May, and both hourly earnings and the average work week ticked down.

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