"This administration is committed to pursuing expanded trade and new trade agreements. It is absolutely essential to our economic future," the president said. "But no trading system will work if we fail to enforce our trade agreements."
The president stressed in television interviews on Monday that there will not be a trade war with China over the tire tariffs.
"I think that there are some tensions around this, no doubt about it. But my message is very simple: We have rules on the books," he said in an interview with Bloomberg News. "We've got to establish credibility and enforcement of the rules precisely because I want to further expand trade in the future. And that is something that I think the Chinese government should understand."
The president's message today was tough, but his regulatory agenda has been sidetracked because of his focus on, and struggles with, health care reform.
"The chance for regulatory reform is starting to slip away from us, that we need very definitely in place some sort of better system of monitoring and of regulation, otherwise we are going to get right back into the soup again," said political analyst David Gergen. "I think ... the regulatory reform effort is a casuality of the health care fight, because health care is so dominant that the president can't get attention back to regulatory reform and the Senate is so caught up in health care that it is going to be very difficult to get regulatory reform done this year."
Meanwhile, support for the president's health care push, headlined by his address to the joint session of Congress last Wednesday, remains divided. The president's speech did little to change Americans' perception of the administration's health care overhaul efforts, but generally, views on reform have stabilized from what were plummeting poll numbers for the president.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that the country is divided 48-48 percent on Obama's handling of health care reform. That figure is down from April, when 57 percent of approved and 29 percent disapproved. More Americans believe reform will worsen rather than improve their coverage and costs while nearly two-thirds of those polled believe it will boost the hefty federal deficit. According to the poll, more than half -- 54 percent -- of Americans say that the more they hear about health care reform, the less they like it.
That may not bode well for the president, who has acknowledged Americans' concerns but at the same time, insists that he will continue pressing for the strongest bill he can.
"I intend to be president for a while and once this bill passes, I own it," Obama said in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday. "And if people look and say, 'You know what? This hasn't reduced my costs. My premiums are still going up 25 percent, insurance companies are still jerkin' me around,' I'm the one who's going to be held responsible."
The president also insists that health care reform won't add to the federal budget deficit "by a dime."