Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

February 7, 2013

Obama to promote his agenda to House Democrats

(Continued)

"If that's the choice we've got, I promise you we can win that debate, because we're on the right side of this argument," Obama said.

After Obama's brief public remarks to the House members, reporters were ushered out of the room before he took lawmakers' questions in private.

White House officials say Obama's top priority is job creation and that he will make a case for fiscal policies that encourage economic growth. Setting up a contrast with Republicans who are insisting on spending cuts, not tax increases, to stanch federal red ink, Obama told reporters Tuesday, "We can't just cut our way to prosperity."

Obama met privately for more than two hours Wednesday with Senate Democrats. The White House said the president spoke briefly, took questions from 10 of the senators assembled, then spent an hour chatting with them in smaller groups. Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, said the session was focused on coordinating what Democratic senators are doing with the administration's own efforts to promote Obama's priorities.

The meeting with House Democrats follows Wednesday's vote in the Republican-controlled House that would require the president to submit a budget that balances the federal ledger. The bill was symbolic, meant as a taunt to the president. It has little chance in the Senate but, still, 26 House Democrats voted for it.

In the Senate, Democrats hold the majority and can be far more effective at driving Obama's legislative agenda. But a unified Democratic caucus in the House is critical on issues that might divide Republicans, such as an overhaul of immigration laws or even some fiscal policies.

Carney has said Obama and lawmakers have made "significant progress" toward a bipartisan deal on immigration. The Senate has taken the lead assembling comprehensive legislation, including a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

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