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Obama Considers New Steps on Economy, Signs Unemployment Bill

President Barack Obama on Friday said he is considering additional steps to boost the economy — including new spending measures and tax cuts — as the Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate has risen to 10.2 percent.“My economic team is looking at ideas such as additional investments in our aging roads and bridges, incentives to encourage families and businesses to make buildings more energy efficient, additional tax cuts for businesses to create jobs, additional steps to increase the flow of credit to small businesses, and an aggressive agenda to promote exports and help American manufacturers sell their products around the world,— Obama said during a brief Rose Garden appearance.Obama called the new unemployment figure a “sobering number,— but he couched it by noting that the economy has begun to grow again and that a pickup in employment usually lags behind economic growth.The president on Friday also signed legislation extending unemployment benefits and maintaining a tax credit for homebuyers through April 2010.Republicans charged that the rising unemployment rate should make Democrats think twice about supporting the health care bill.“With a stunning 10.2 percent nationwide unemployment rate, it is astonishing that House Democrats are marching ahead with a $1.3 trillion bill that includes massive job-killing tax hikes and mandates,— Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement.“It’s pretty clear the number one priority of the American people is the economy,— she said. “The question is whether the same is true for Washington Democrats who continue pushing a destructive agenda of more taxes, more spending and more debt that we simply cannot afford.—The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the House health care bill at just more than $1 trillion.Obama led off his brief remarks with a tribute to those who were killed Thursday at Fort Hood in Texas, ordering federal buildings to fly flags at half-staff through Veterans Day.

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