President Obama shifts focus to economy

President Obama will host two events on the economy this week as Democrats seek to pivot the political discussion away from the healthcare law.

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Democrats dispute that that the healthcare law will be a liability for the party in this year’s elections, and celebrated the news last week that ObamaCare enrollments topped 7 million.

Still, they argue that jobs and the economy will be the central battleground in November.

“That’s the debate that the election will be about, jobs and the budget,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week.

Obama will be hosting two events on the economy this week. On Monday, he will travel to Prince George's County, Md. to host an event on the economy, and will follow that up with another event Tuesday at the White House.

The renewed focus on the economy comes on the heels of new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Friday, that suggested the U.S. is rebounding after a tough winter. In March, 192,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent.

Democrats are pushing a populist message for the midterm elections, with a focus on unemployment benefits, pay disparity between the sexes and the minimum wage.

The Senate on Monday is set to approve legislation that would provide unemployment benefits to people who lost it when the funding expired at the end of last year.

House Republican leaders are not expected to hold a vote on the bill, after raising concerns about paying the unemployed retroactively. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has also said the measure doesn’t include a job creation provision.

The administration has been urging an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour as part of a broader populist pitch by Democrats.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has been working on a deal to raise the wage, but it may not be as large of a hike as the administration is demanding.

Obama has hosted a slew of events on the economy this year, touting the government’s work in recovering jobs from the recession. On Friday, Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, stressed that the private sector has added 8.9 million jobs since 2010. 

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