After Health Care, Obama Ready to Shift to Economy

Over the past year, the Obama administration has frequently talked about "pivoting" back to the country's economic problems.

But now, with health care reform (almost) in the bag, the talk may be for real.

Asked today if there will be yet another pivot, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that job creation has been an ongoing priority for the administration.

"The president's been working on the economic recovery every day that he's been in office," Gibbs said. "We know that the president in fact signed a bill just last week to provide tax credits for small businesses that hire the unemployed. And I think we'll continue to talk about that going forward."

Last November, the White House announced a "Main Street Jobs Tour," which would provide an opportunity for Obama to venture beyond the Beltway to cities and towns across America.

"In an effort to spend some time out of Washington and take the temperature on what Americans are experiencing during these challenging economic times, the president will visit communities across the country over the next several months where he will speak with workers and share ideas for continued recovery," the White House said at the time.

The first stop on the tour was Allentown, Pa., Dec. 5, 2009, where Obama said he considers "one job lost one job too many."

But since then he has made just a handful of stops on the Main Street tour. Every time the White House says it is time for a sharper focus on jobs, something flares up at home or abroad to take its attention away.

With health care reform nearly in the Obama administration's rear view mirror, the focus now becomes how to create jobs and prevent another economic meltdown.

Unemployment Rate Concerns Obama Administration

With the country's unemployment rate at 9.7 percent, the administration knows that finding a way to improve the labor market is imperative. Last week Obama signed into law a $17.6 billion jobs bill, calling it "a step in the right direction."

Preventing another financial crisis is the administration's other goal. Democrats have proposed the biggest regulatory overhaul of Wall Street since the Great Depression.

In his weekly address last Saturday, Obama assured Americans that reforms are on the way, despite the best efforts of dissenters.

"I promise to use every tool at my disposal to see these reforms enacted: to see that the bill I sign into law reflects not the special interests of Wall Street, but the best interests of the American people," he said.

It won't take long for the administration's "pivot" to take place. The Senate Banking Committee voted Monday evening to send chairman Chris Dodd's reform proposal on to the full Senate. And just down the road from Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presented the administration's "closing arguments" for financial reform in a speech at a conservative think-tank.

"We are at a defining moment in the great debate about financial reform," Geithner told the American Enterprise Institute. "This is an enormously complicated issue. We have to get it right. But we know all about the choices. Now we have to decide whether or not we are going to act.

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