WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, seeking to ease voters’ concerns about his handling of the U.S. economy, said on Saturday a meeting with his jobs council next week would focus on possible further steps to boost hiring in the short term.
Obama on Monday will visit a clean-energy plant in North Carolina, a likely battleground state in his 2012 re-election bid, where he will consult with a panel of outside advisers on job creation headed by General Electric chief executive Jeffrey Immelt.
Obama’s effort to reassure Americans of his commitment to reducing unemployment, which edged up to 9.1 percent last month, comes amid signs of a slowing recovery and opinion polls showing increasing public doubts about his economic policies.
Republican critics accuse Obama of wasteful spending and overregulation that they say obstruct economic growth.
“I wish I could tell you there was a quick fix to our economic problems,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “But the truth is, we didn’t get into this mess overnight, and we won’t get out of it overnight. It’s going to take time.”
Though the White House and Democratic allies in Congress remain locked in tough talks with Republicans over an elusive deficit-reduction deal, Obama sought to make clear that he was not losing sight of the need to put people back to work.
“I’ll travel to North Carolina where I’ll meet with my Jobs Council and talk about additional steps we can take to spur private-sector hiring in the short-term and ensure our workers have the skills and training they need,” he said.
Obama said investing in education and alternative energy would improve the job market but offered no specifics. An administration official said on Thursday the White House was discussing the idea of a temporary cut in payroll taxes that employers pay on wages, among other measures.
Obama on Tuesday expressed interest in seeking an agreement to continue parts of a tax-cut compromise reached last year. He cited a payroll tax holiday for employees, extended jobless benefits and a research and development tax break as measures that had helped.
In the Republican response, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger accused Obama of “broken promises” on jobs.
“We can’t continue to follow the same failed agenda that has driven job creators further into doubt and uncertainty,” he said.
Kinzinger also said his party had made clear that “under no circumstances will Republicans support irresponsible legislation which increases the federal government’s credit limit without any spending cuts or budgetary reforms.”
He said it was time to “draw a hard line” on spending.
Outside pressure is growing for a deal that would let Congress raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before an August 2 deadline. Republicans say any increase in the debt limit would have to be matched by an equal amount of spending cuts.
Editing by Xavier Briand