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Obama Signs Patent Reform; Campaigns for Jobs Bill

President Barack Obama during remarks at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, September 16, 2011.

President Barack Obama has signed legislation to speed the process of approving U.S. patents. The president says the new law is part of his initiative to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

President Obama visited a high school for science and technology near Washington Friday to sign the bill, which is part of his bid to improve U.S. economic competitiveness.

Mr. Obama used one of the country's most famous inventors as an example of why the patent laws needed to be updated.

“When Thomas Edison filed his patent for the phonograph, his application was approved in just seven weeks. And these days, that process is taking an average of three years,” the president said.

The U.S. Patent Office is expected to open more offices and hire as many as 2,000 new patent examiners in the next year.

The president said shrinking a backlog of almost 700,000 applications will help the economy and create jobs.

Friday’s bill-signing was the president’s second visit in a week to the politically important state of Virginia. He used the occasion to campaign for his $447 billion jobs legislation.

“This change in our patent laws is part of our agenda for making us competitive over the long term. But we have also got a short-term economic crisis, a set of challenges that we have to deal with right now. What the American Jobs Act does is it puts more people back to work and it puts more money into the pockets of working Americans,” Obama said.

Opposition Republicans in Congress have indicated that they will be willing to pass some parts of the president’s jobs bill, but not others.

John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, is promoting his own proposals for economic growth.

Boehner said this week the joint House-Senate committee considering ways to cut the budget deficit should not allow tax increases.

“Tax increases destroy jobs. And the Joint Committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country. And we should not make its task harder by asking it to do things that will make the environment for job creation in America even worse,” Boehner said.

The White House wants to raise taxes on large corporations and wealthy individuals to help pay for its economic initiatives.

Boehner also says the president’s economic policies put an excessive burden on companies that could be hiring more people.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says independent economists believe Mr. Obama’s proposals could create between 1.5 million and 2 million jobs.