Obama’s budget preview says job creation is priority not balance

President Barack Obama, in an annual economic message to Congress, said the “top priority” of his second term is job creation, fueled by an effort to make the U.S. a magnet for manufacturing.

“After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million jobs,” Obama said in his Economic Report of the President. The economy is adding jobs, he said, yet too many can’t find full-time employment.

“Our top priority must be to do everything we can to grow our economy and create good, middle-class jobs,” the president said.

The annual report typically offers a menu of economic growth forecasts for the current year and next, as well as the outlook for the unemployment rate and inflation. Those weren’t included today, delayed until Obama presents his fiscal 2014 budget proposal to Congress the week of April 8.

Instead, Obama previewed some of the priorities that will drive his budget. The report outlines plans for manufacturing hubs leading to high-tech jobs and the need to overhaul the tax code to make the U.S. more competitive in global markets. He will ask Congress to spend more on research and technology, along with a boost in education and spending in public works programs, such as roads and bridges. There were no details.

“These steps will help entrepreneurs and small business owners expand and create new jobs,” Obama said.

Forecasts Cited

The report, signed by Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, only cited outside forecasts predicting that the economy would grow about 2.4 percent this year.

The economy is gaining traction, Krueger has said, even as the White House and Republicans in Congress are in a standoff over spending cuts, deficit reduction, revamping social programs and updating the U.S. tax code. Earlier this week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, proposed a budget designed to eliminate the federal deficit within 10 years, making cuts in domestic spending that the White House said were unacceptable.

Gross domestic product grew at a 0.1% annual rate in the fourth quarter, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed Feb. 28. Growth in the economy was limited by a 22% reduction in military spending, on an annual basis, the biggest drop since 1972.

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