WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama urged members of Congress yesterday to display a “balanced approach” to cutting government spending as he geared up for a new battle with congressional Republicans over budget priorities.
“2013 can be a year of solid growth, more jobs, and higher wages,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “But that will only happen if we put a stop to self-inflicted wounds in Washington.” The comments came as new economic statistics showed the economic recovery advertised by the president during the election campaign remained uneven and lackluster.
According to the Labour Department, the jobless rate rose in January to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent just a month ago — practically the same level seen in the country since September.
The economy has also suffered an unexpected 0.1 percent fourth-quarter contraction, a sharp downturn after a strong 3.1 percent pace of growth in the third quarter, the government acknowledged.
Against this backdrop, Obama is preparing for tough negotiations with congressional Republicans over next fiscal year’s budget as well as the debt ceiling, which has been suspended by Congress, but only until May 18.
The United States exceeded its congressionally mandated $16 trillion borrowing limit late last month, and the Treasury has taken extraordinary measures to keep paying the government’s bills through late February. AFP