|Obama Seeks to End 'Political Gridlock'|
|Arlette Saenz||Mar 9, 2013, 7:27 AM|
Capping off a week in which he reached out to Republicans in congress, President Obama expressed his eagerness to "enlist anyone who is willing to help" to boost the economy and end "political gridlock"
"At a time when our businesses are gaining a little more traction, the last thing we should do is allow Washington politics to get in the way. You deserve better than the same political gridlock and refusal to compromise that has too often passed for serious debate over the last few years," the president said in his weekly address.
The president highlighted the sharp improvement in jobs numbers this week, noting that the 7.7 percent unemployment rate is "now lower than it was when I took office."
"We need to do everything we can to keep that momentum going,' Obama said.
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
Earlier this week, President Obama met with Republican senators and Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, in an attempt to kick off budget negotiations and work on a deal to end the across the board sequester cuts which went into effect last week.
In his dinner with 12 Republican senators Wednesday evening, the president said the group "had an open and honest conversation about critical issues like immigration reform and gun violence, and other areas where we can work together to move this country forward."
The president will continue his discussions next week when he makes three trips to Capitol Hill to attend Democratic and Republican meetings beginning on Tuesday.
"As Democrats and Republicans, we may disagree on the best way to achieve our goals, but I'm confident we can agree on what those goals should be. A strong and vibrant middle class. An economy that allows businesses to grow and thrive. An education system that gives more Americans the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. An immigration system that actually works for families and businesses. Stronger communities and safer streets for our children," the president said.
But while the president called for cooperation between the two parties in finding ways to strengthen the economy, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, pinned the blame for inaction on the budget on Democrats.
"Every time lawmakers try to reform the bureaucracy to accomplish these goals, they meet with the same response: President Obama attacks the reformers, saying such ideas aren't compassionate or fair. But what is truly unfair and lacking in compassion is to protect a federal bureaucracy that is failing those that need our help the most," Sessions said in the weekly address. "President Obama speaks of his deep concern for struggling Americans, yet his plans are focused on growing government-not the economy. He has no effective plan to create better jobs, more hiring or rising wages. That's what's missing."
"Right now, our massive debt is slowing the economy and depressing wages. We have a moral duty to balance the federal budget and bring the deficit down to zero. This is the great challenge of our time," Sessions added. "You may be surprised to learn that we can achieve this goal if we simply hold the annual growth of spending to 3.4 percent each year. But I fear the Democrat proposal will fail this defining test and will never achieve balance. I fear it will crush American workers and our economy with trillions in new taxes, spending and debt. I fear Chairman Murray will follow the President's lead: raising taxes to enrich the bureaucracy at the expense of the people."