U.S. President Barack Obama is calling on lawmakers who return to Washington next week to take a number of steps he says will boost the country's slowly growing economy.
In his weekly address Saturday, Obama highlighted several economic achievements made by his administration during its first four-and-a-half years, as evidence the economy is "moving in the right direction."
Obama said nearly 7 million new jobs have been created in the past 38 months. He said deficits are shrinking and that the rise in health care costs is slowing. He also pointed to what he said were recent improvements in the U.S. auto industry and housing market.
Regarding energy policy, Obama said the U.S. is projected within the next few months to begin producing more crude oil than it imports - the first time this has happened in 16 years.
But in order to sustain that progress, he said Congress should pass legislation giving homeowners the chance to refinance their mortgages. He also called for measures that would help improve infrastructure and reform the U.S. immigration system.
In the corresponding Republican weekly address, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell focused on what he sees as the Obama administration's failure to capitalize on “America’s potential for energy independence.”
Parnell accused Washington of holding back America’s economic recovery by blocking access to federal lands that contain natural resources, depriving states of “hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs.”
He said while the Obama administration claims that domestic energy production is up, this is not the case on federal lands, where he says production has “dropped dramatically.”
Republicans have called for fewer government regulations and a rapid increase in domestic energy production, saying it will improve the economy and reduce American dependence on sometimes unfriendly countries.
Many Democrats say more regulations will help safeguard the environment and are reluctant to allow energy exploration on energy-rich federal lands.
Watch President Obama's weekly address: