State Politics

Obama warming to jobs legislation

WASHINGTON — On the eve of President Barack Obama’s jobs forum, the White House is warming to a number of legislative proposals aimed at boosting job creation.

Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview Wednesday that the White House was open to supporting new initiatives designed to help small businesses, provide direct payments to people who retrofit their homes to save energy, and further increase spending on infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and public buildings.

Additional help to states to avoid layoffs of employees is under consideration, but no decisions have been made as to what the White House ultimately will support, and lots of negotiations with Congress remain.

Romer also said the White House supports extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and subsidies for the unemployed to purchase health insurance.

At the same time, any new steps would have to have a relatively small deficit impact, Romer said. The administration says its budget for the upcoming fiscal year will take aggressive deficit-cutting steps.

“We’ve got these twin problems. We’ve clearly got a very severe jobs problem and we inherited a big budget deficit,” Romer said. “There’s going to be an emphasis that anything we do be done in a fiscally responsible way.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Obama plans to give a speech next week that will lay out ideas, including some already under discussion by White House economic advisers and others that might arise out of the jobs summit. But both Gibbs and Democratic leaders in Congress caution that most new steps will have to wait until next year.