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New Year, Old Battles for US Leaders

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As millions of Americans welcome in 2011 with celebrations and fireworks, U.S. politicians are greeting the new decade with some familiar promises.

Far removed from raucous New Year celebrations like the one in New York City's Times Square, U.S, President Barack Obama had a somber message for the American people.

"We're still just emerging from a once-in-a-lifetime recession that's taken a terrible toll on millions of families," said President Obama.  "We all have friends and neighbors trying to get their lives back on track."

In his weekly address, Mr. Obama promised to work harder to strengthen the country's shaky economy recovery, and said recent economic data suggests the situation is starting to improve.

He also pledged to work more closely with opposition Republican lawmakers, who made significant gains in November's elections.

"I'm willing to work with anyone of either party who's got a good idea and the commitment to see it through," added President Obama.  "And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver."

When lawmakers return to Washington later this month, Republicans will control the House of Representatives and have an additional 6 seats in the Senate.  Republicans say change is coming.

"The American people sent us to Congress with clear instructions: make....government smaller, not bigger," said newly-elected Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte.  "And stop spending money we don't have on programs that aren't working.  It's now our responsibility to carry out the will of the people."

Giving the weekly Republican address, Ayotte said that for her, like many Americans, the challenge is personal.

"As the mother of two children, I'm like parents across the country who worry that our nearly $14 trillion debt threatens America's economic future and our children's future," added Ayotte.  "To ensure generations to come have even more opportunities than we've had, Congress must get serious about meaningful debt reduction."

Both President Obama and the senator-elect say while the challenges facing the United States at the start of this new decade are great, they remain hopeful.  Mr. Obama says there is even reason for optimism.

"I'm confident that we are poised for a period of progress - one in which our economy is growing, our standing in the world is rising, and we do what it takes to make sure America remains in the 21st century what it was in the 20th: the greatest country in the world," said Obama.

As the New Year celebrations come to an end, and Americans go back to work and their daily routines, they will be watching to see if the president and lawmakers can make good on that promise.

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