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Obama Calls On Business Leaders for Support

President Barack Obama is calling on U.S. business leaders to work with him to help advance the country's economic interests.  The president once again laid out his priorities for the U.S. economy.

President Obama Wednesday went before a meeting of the Business Roundtable, to challenge some of the nation's top corporate executives to help achieve his vision of the country's future.

"We need to build an economy where we borrow less and produce more.  We need an economy where we generate more jobs here at home and send more products overseas.  We need to invest and nurture the industries of the future, and we need to train our workers to compete for those jobs," he said.

The president gave an overview of his reform efforts, saying they would help the United States compete globally and improve the domestic economy.

He denied Republican charges that he is increasing government's involvement in business, and defended actions such as charging a fee to financial institutions which have not repaid government bailout money.

"What has outraged people are the outsized bonuses at firms that so recently required massive public assistance.  Once that money is fully repaid, I do not believe it is appropriate for the government to be in the business of setting compensation levels," said Mr. Obama.

The president again sought support for many of the main areas of his economic program, infrastructure, research, education, and government reform.

He also pushed his policy of rewarding businesses that keep jobs in the United States, rather than sending them overseas, saying it is not anti-business but pro-American.

And Mr. Obama said the United States must align the interests of workers, businesses and government around trade agreements that open new markets and create new jobs.

"That is why we launched the Trans Pacific Partnership to strengthen our trade relations with Asia, the fastest growing market in the world," said the president.  "That is why we will work to resolve outstanding issues so that we can move forward on trade agreements with key partners like South Korea, Panama and Colombia," he said.

The president urged the group to support a $15 billion jobs bill, which passed the Senate Wednesday with support from several Republicans.

Mr. Obama also appealed for backing for his health care reform plan, which lawmakers from both parties will discuss with the president in a Thursday meeting near the White House.  

"Our proposal contains good ideas from Democrats, Republicans and health care experts across the spectrum," Mr. Obama said.  "And tomorrow, I look forward to a good exchange of ideas at the Blair House with some of the legislative leaders.  And I hope everyone comes with a shared desire to solve this challenge, not just score political points," he said.

The Business Roundtable is made up of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies.  Together, their companies have almost $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 12 million workers.

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