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Obama asks Republicans to help him revitalize economy

In his weekly radio address, Obama speaks of a 'shared responsibility' for Democrats and Republicans. He pledges to work in good faith with the GOP as it assumes more power when Congress reconvenes Wednesday.

January 02, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Honolulu — President Obama called on Republicans to be equal partners in his efforts to jump-start the nation's fragile economy in the new year, pledging to work in good faith with the party as it prepares to assume greater power in Washington.

In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said that economic data showed the economy had been "gaining traction" for months, and that his personal resolution for 2011 was to do everything he could "to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class."

The president said that while tending to the short-term recovery, lawmakers also must continue making investments that will ensure the nation's long-term prosperity. Days before Republicans will be sworn in as the majority in the House of Representatives, Obama said it was now a "shared responsibility" of both parties to do so.

"Here's what I want you to know: I'm willing to work with anyone of either party who's got a good idea and the commitment to see it through. And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver," Obama said.

The Republican gains from November's election will be realized Wednesday when the 112th Congress is sworn in. Republican John A. Boehner of Ohio will replace Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco as speaker of the House, with a Republican advantage of 49 seats.

In the Senate, Democrats will maintain their majority, but their 20-seat advantage will be trimmed to seven.

New Hampshire Sen.-elect Kelly Ayotte, one of 13 new Republicans in the Senate who will take office Wednesday, said her party was "keenly aware that the American people are relying on us to change business as usual in Washington — and we're well-positioned to do just that."

She identified cutting "wasteful Washington spending" as the GOP's top mission.

Obama will return to Washington on Tuesday after nearly two weeks of vacationing with his family in his home state of Hawaii. He has been working with aides to map out the coming year, and has been receiving regular security briefings.

The president issued a statement Saturday strongly condemning "outrageous" terrorist bombings in Africa: the attack on a Christian church in Egypt, and one near an army barracks in Nigeria.

mmemoli@tribune.com

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