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Obama Decries 'Dysfunctional' Congress, Presses Economic Proposals

President Barack Obama speaks outside of the home of Jose and Lissette Bonilla in Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011.

President Barack Obama speaks outside of the home of Jose and Lissette Bonilla in Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011.

President Barack Obama is using a three-day trip through western United States to launch a series of actions to help Americans suffering from the nation's poor economy and to get around roadblocks by opposition Republicans to his jobs legislation.

The president chose Nevada, where home values have dropped sharply in recent years and foreclosure rates are among the highest in the country, to unveil the first of several executive actions to help ease economic pressures on Americans.

Standing on the porch of a home in Las Vegas, Mr. Obama announced changes to make it easier for homeowners with federally-guaranteed mortgages who are struggling to avoid foreclosure to lower their payments. "I am going to keep on doing everything in my power to help to stabilize the housing market, grow the economy, accelerate job growth and restore some of the security that middle class families have felt slipping away for more than a decade," he said.

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The changes, in the form of an executive order, build on steps taken in 2009 to help homeowners refinance their mortgages, but which have been far less effective than the Obama administration had hoped.

Briefing reporters, Press Secretary Jay Carney did not provide an estimate of how many homeowners the changes would help. He said they are not a substitute for action that Congress could take to approve pieces of the president's jobs proposals.

Although Republicans have blocked Mr. Obama's overall jobs bill on Capitol Hill, Democrats controlling the U.S. Senate, led by Harry Reid of Nevada, will bring specific parts of the legislation to a vote.

In his remarks in Las Vegas, the president used a new slogan, "we can't wait", to pressure what he called a "dysfunctional" Congress to act on his jobs proposals. "I'm here to say to all of you and to say to the people of Nevada and the people of Las Vegas, we can't wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won't act, I will," he said.

Before Mr. Obama arrived in Nevada, Republicans criticized his new proposal to help struggling homeowners. A Republican National Committee email said the president so far had presided over a "failed housing policy."

Shortly after Mr. Obama spoke, the White House announced the next executive action the president will take, a series of initiatives aimed at helping to create more jobs for war veterans.

Mr. Obama's latest campaign-style trip will also him to California and Colorado.

After winning Nevada and Colorado in the 2008 presidential election, Mr. Obama hopes to hold on to them in next year's presidential vote. Both states also have increasing numbers of Hispanic voters who, analysts say, are crucial to his reelection.

In Denver on Wednesday, Mr. Obama is expected to announce a plan to help students repay federal college loans. On a previous visit to Colorado, he promoted a provision in his jobs bill that would modernize the nation's schools.

Mr. Obama intends to use similar trips in coming weeks to contrast his jobs proposals, which he says will create least 1.9 million jobs, with Republican proposals he says will not boost economic growth or job creation during the next two years.