Monday, November 14, 2011

Obama: US budget talks could disrupt holiday plans

 Obama: US budget talks
* Year-end deadline looms for action on deficit, jobs
* Obama struggles to get support for jobs bill
* At fundraiser, defends healthcare law - By Caren Bohan and Laura MacInnis
HONOLULU, Nov 14 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday year-end wrangling over the budget and jobs measures might delay the start of his December holiday vacation in Hawaii, as U.S. political gridlock showed no sign of easing.
"It is great to be home, great to feel that Aloha spirit," Obama told a fundraiser in his native state of Hawaii, where he had spent the weekend hosting world leaders at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Obama said his wife Michelle and their two daughters would return to Hawaii soon for their traditional Christmas vacation trip but said his own plans hinged on whether Washington could break a deadlock on key pieces of legislation.
"We'll see if Washington gets its business done, so I can get here as well. But that's always a challenge," Obama said.
Congress faces a Dec. 23 deadline to approve measures reducing the U.S. deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years, but a panel of 12 lawmakers who must nail down details of the plan by Nov. 23 still have yet to agree a deal.
Obama also hopes to push through key elements of his $447 billion jobs package by the end of the year, including an extension of payroll tax cuts due to expire by the end of this year without action by the U.S. Congress.
The U.S. Senate last week overwhelmingly passed a measure that would provide tax credits to companies that hire military veterans. But Obama is struggling to get bipartisan support for larger parts of the jobs plan.
He criticized congressional Republicans for resisting initiatives including the payroll tax cuts and funds to fix roads and bridges.
"These aren't partisan issues. These are common-sense approaches to putting people back to work at a time when the unemployment rate is way too high. But politics seems to override everything in Washington these days," Obama said.
More action on jobs could be critical for Obama because his hopes of re-election in 2012 may hinge on whether he can persuade voters he is doing enough to boost the sluggish U.S. economy and bring down the unemployment rate of 9 percent. Read More!!!


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