Obama Tells Republicans No Deficit Reduction Without Tax Hikes

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Unemployment Rate Signals Tough Road Ahead for Obama

The struggling jobs market could have serious implications for the president as he seeks re-election next year. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with an unemployment rate higher than 7.2 percent.

Despite consistent reminders from Democrats that Obama inherited an economy in disastrous shape, numerous prominent Democrats from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin to Democratic National Committee chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz have acknowledged that after 2½ years in office, Obama now owns the economy.

At today's press conference the president called on Congress to act on a series of pending measures that he said would boost the economy, from extending a payroll tax cut for another year to making it easier for entrepreneurs to patent a new idea to passing trade agreements with countries in Asia and South America.

"I urge Congress to act on these ideas now," he said.

The president today also faced questions on his foreign policy moves. The president's decision to intervene militarily in Libya has drawn a flurry of criticism from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have argued that the administration did not consult adequately with them before taking action there.

"A lot of this fuss is politics," the president said. "If you look substantively at what we've done, we've done exactly what we said we'd do under a U.N. mandate."

Another key foreign policy topic for the commander in chief to address was the situation in Afghanistan. Last week he announced a plan to bring home 33,000 troops from the country by the end of next summer, but last night's attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul served as a stark reminder of the precarious state of security there. The attack killed nine Afghan civilians, two police officers and nine attackers. Another 13 civilians and five police officers were injured. The attack came as Afghan provincial officials were set to meet at the hotel for a conference on the security transition.

The president's decision to start withdrawing troops, 10,000 by the end of this year and another 23,000 by the end of next summer, was more aggressive than the Pentagon had wanted. Both Gen. David Petraeus and Adm. Mike Mullen have acknowledged as much.

"What I can tell you is the president's decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept," Mullen told the House Armed Services Committee last week.

Back on the homefront, the president today also faced questions about New York becoming the sixth state in the country to allow gay couples to wed. New York lawmakers approved the bill in a close vote late Friday night, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly signed it. Gay couples can now get married starting 30 days after the signing. New York's law will double the U.S. number of those living under marriage equality laws.

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