Obama to set up deficit-reduction panel - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Obama to set up deficit-reduction panel




















WASHINGTON. - President Barack Obama has told his speechwriters he doesn't want to give a laundry list of proposals and a feel-good assessment of the nation's health in his first State of the Union address tonight.
     
He's planning to acknowledge the missteps he's made in his first year but will also make an unapologetic defense of the agenda that won him the White House in the first place.
     
About two-thirds of Obama's speech is expected to focus on the economy. He's expected to talk about reining-in the national debt, and helping businesses hire again.
     
Although the Senate yesterday rejected a plan to set up a bipartisan task force to tackle the federal deficit, Obama is expected to announce tonight that he's creating a similar panel, by executive order.

Republican governor to share Obama's focus on jobs

The man who'll deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union speech says he'll be focusing on job creation, new energy sources and education reform.
     
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he'll try to put a "positive, happy, pro-business face" on Republican politics.
     
As for President Barack Obama's speech, Republicans in the House say they welcome his focus on jobs. But they say they're not going to abandon their opposition to expensive proposals from Democrats, even those that are aimed at creating jobs.
     
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor says Republicans want Obama to admit that "the agenda being pursued is not one that brings us back to recovery."
     
House Minority Leader John Boehner says Obama's proposal for a partial freeze on spending is a good start, but that Obama should also abandon big spending proposals on health
care, climate change and jobs.

Obama to renew call for health care reform

The White House says President Barack Obama still wants to see an ambitious remake of the nation's health care system. And an official has told congressional staff members that
Obama will use part of tonight's State of the Union speech to renew that commitment.
     
Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer says lawmakers won't get a specific plan for how to move forward, but instead will hear "additional details" on Obama's health care goals.
     
Democrats have been struggling to find a way to advance health care legislation after the loss of a Massachusetts Senate seat cost them the 60-vote supermajority they needed.
     
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says giving up on a health care overhaul is not an option.
     
She says, "We will have something."
     
Democrats are getting encouragement today from groups as diverse as the nation's Catholic bishops and the head of the largest labor union federation.
     
In a letter to members of Congress, the bishops urged lawmakers to "recommit themselves to enacting genuine health care reform."

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