Obama: 2014 'year of action' on jobs

President Obama called on Congress to make 2014 a “year of action” for the economy – starting with extending emergency unemployment benefits.

In his weekly address, the president touted the gains the economy has made in the last few years, while urging policymakers to do more to boost jobs and put people back to work.

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The first item on the agenda should be getting federal unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless back in place, he said. That program was allowed to expire at the end of 2013 when Congress failed to extend the program, cutting off benefits for 1.3 million Americans still looking for work.

Lawmakers are currently debating extending the program, and Obama urged them to act swiftly to get it done, while jabbing at Republicans for demanding its extension be paid for and paired with other job-boosting reforms.

“This vital economic lifeline helps people support their families while they look for a new job.  And it demands responsibility in return by requiring that they prove they’re actively looking for work,” he said. “But Republicans in Congress just let that lifeline expire for 1.3 million Americans.

“Congress needs to finish the job right away,” he added.

The president also touted his future efforts to highlight the economy, saying he plans to focus on high-tech manufacturing and education in the next week, while meeting with major CEOs later in the month to help get more of the jobless back in the workforce.

And in his State of the Union address at the end of the month, Obama said he wants to embark on a “national mission of making sure our economy offers everyone who works hard a fair shot at opportunity and success.”

“After everything you’ve done to recover and rebuild from crisis these past five years – after all your hard work and sacrifice – that’s what you deserve,” he said.