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Obama, Democratic Leaders Meet on Economy

  • David Dyar

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with President Bill Clinton and business leaders in the White House, 14 July 2010

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with President Bill Clinton and business leaders in the White House, 14 July 2010

Nearing important votes in Congress on key items on his agenda, President Obama held more meetings on Wednesday with congressional Democrats. The president's talks this week with the majority Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate came amid some tensions between the White House and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.

Though there are still more than three months to go before the mid-term congressional elections, there is actually far less time remaining for action on key Obama priorities before lawmakers are scheduled to leave town sometime in October for campaigning.

Mr. Obama expects to be able to sign financial system regulatory reform legislation, which has domestic as well as global importance, after a final Senate vote sends the bill to his desk.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterated on Wednesday what the president sees as the huge significance of the legislation. "The president will make an issue of passing what is a significant part of our economic recovery, that is putting in place rules that do not allow the type of activities to happen going forward that happened just a little under 2 years ago," he said.

Before the end of this month, the U.S. Senate will take up energy and climate change legislation, another major objective of the president since he took office.

But it has been a week of more tough news for the president, who faces slipping public approval ratings, and some additional unsettling economic news.

The White House continues to try to keep the focus on progress, issuing a report saying that the Obama economic stimulus has saved or created as many as 3.6 million jobs.

However, the effect of this report was blunted the same day it was announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve which issued a more pessimistic outlook for U.S. economic growth.

All of this came amid an outbreak of tension between the White House and Democratic party leaders in the House of Representatives over a recent remark by presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs about the November mid-term congressional elections.

On NBC's Meet the Press, Gibbs said, in his words "there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control" of the House of Representatives.

That angered Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who with other House Democratic leaders met with the president late Wednesday.

The White House has circulated a memo detailing administration efforts to help Democratic candidates ahead of the mid-term elections. Gibbs said on Wednesday that nothing he had said was "politically shocking" adding that he does believe Democrats will retain control of both the House and the Senate.

How the drama played out in Wednesday's meeting with the president was not apparent from Pelosi's brief remarks to reporters. She said nothing about the tensions over the Gibbs remark, and described the talks as very positive focusing on the issues of job creation and the economy.

President Obama discussed the economy and job creation Wednesday with business leaders. Also participating was former President Bill Clinton, and billionaire investor Warren Buffet, who the president has consulted frequently on economic issues.

On Thursday, President Obama makes the latest of a series of trips designed to highlight progress in U.S. states from his economic recovery program. He will appear in Michigan at the opening of a new battery plant, to highlight jobs created under the economic stimulus.