Obama Jobs Council Meets, Urges Action On Key Issue


(AP) WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is pressing for passage of his full $447 billion jobs package in the face of certain congressional defeat while embracing more modest administrative remedies to the nation's sluggish economy and unwaveringly high unemployment.

Continuing his personal campaign for the legislation, Obama was traveling to Pittsburgh Tuesday, making a plea for support in a state crucial to his re-election hopes. At the same time, the Senate was scheduled to vote on whether to proceed to the legislation – a step that would require a 60-vote supermajority that was beyond reach.

Eager to demonstrate that his administration was nevertheless taking steps to ease the economic crunch, Obama planned to join his presidential jobs council of corporate and labor leaders in Pittsburgh as they unveiled a report calling for sweeping and urgent changes in government policies. The White House also was announcing steps to speed up environmental and other regulatory approvals for 14 public works projects across the country.

Decrying the human toll of the nation's economic and financial crisis, Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is laying out a series of policy overhauls sure to please and irritate Democratic and Republican partisans alike, from liberalized immigration and greater spending on infrastructure to less restrictive regulations and a more business-friendly tax system.

Topping the council's list is a plea for improvements in the nation's network of roads and bridges, for airport upgrades and modernized ports, and for updated electric grids, water and wastewater systems.

"If Washington can agree on anything, it should be this -- and it should be now," the report states.