Obama Stresses New Urgency on Economy

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President Barack Obama said strong headwinds from Europe are hitting the United States economy.

Speaking at the White House Friday, the president urged Congress to take steps to get Americans back to work.

Coming off last week's negative jobs report and an election defeat for Democrats and labor unions in Wisconsin, Obama stressed a new sense of economic urgency.

"It's critical that we take the actions we can to strengthen the American economy right now," he told reporters.

The president wants Congressional lawmakers to take another look at his $447 billion jobs bill that has stalled on Capitol Hill. Obama believes the legislation will help reduce the nation's 8.2 percent unemployment rate.

Speaker of the House John Boehner responded, saying if the president wants to create more jobs, he should keep tax rates low.

"We're going to vote next month on extending all of the current tax rates and the president should assure the nation that when this bill gets to his desk, he'll sign it into law," Boehner said.

The president also urged European nations to move quickly to put their economic houses in order.

"We know there are specific steps they can take right now to prevent the situation there from getting worse," Obama said.

The president added that if European leaders hesitate to act, the U.S. will also suffer.

"Europe is our largest economic trading partner," he explained. "There is less demand for our products in places like Paris or Madrid. It could mean less business for manufacturers in places like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee."

Boehner sent a different warning.

"Remember one thing: it's the debt in Europe, and if we don't get busy dealing with our debt, we're going to be in the same shape," he said.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested Obama start thinking of better ways to create jobs and rein in out-of-control government spending.

"He's out of ideas, as you saw this morning. He's out of excuses," Romney said while campaigning in Iowa. "And the president's message in all of this is -- have you heard his campaign slogan? 'Forward.' Forward, forward over a cliff!"

Republicans are also pouncing on Obama's comment that the private sector "is doing fine."

Shortly after the president's press conference, the Republican National Committee posted an online video repeating Obama's "fine" comment and asking: "How can President Obama fix our economy if he doesn't understand what's broken?"

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