Obama to push Congress on jobs, say European crisis hurting economy

President Barack Obama planned to blame Europe's debt crisis for "headwinds" buffeting the fragile economy and push Congress to approve his stalled jobs plan in a hastily announced appearance in the White House briefing room on Friday.

"The President will deliver a statement on the economy, calling on Congress to pass the bipartisan, paid-for ideas that the President proposed last year to put construction workers back to work upgrading our roads and bridges, teachers back in the classroom educating our kids and police and firefighters back on the job keeping our communities safe," the White House said.

"He will address the state of the economy, including the situation in Europe, which continues to pose headwinds to our recovery here at home," it said in a statement. It was not clear whether he would take questions.

The announcement came after the Labor Department reported that the number of people applying for jobless benefits dipped last week for the first time in five weeks. The figure slipped 12,000 to 377,000. The news was seen as suggesting only timid job growth. The embattled president's greatest vulnerability as he seeks reelection is the weak economy.

Even before word came down that Obama would be discussing the "headwinds" from Europe, the Republican National Committee released a mocking ad cataloguing the number of times he has used the term to explain why the economy is struggling.

Obama and senior aides have repeatedly cited events outside of their control when asked about sluggish job growth, from the European crisis (which is now hurting American exports) to the devastating earthquake in Japan (which dampened growth there), to a slowdown in China (which weighs on the global economy).

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