Obama Agenda: Economy


White House senior economic adviser Larry Summers decided to engage House GOP leader John Boehner on the issue of the economy.

In a letter to House Republican leader John Boehner, White House chief economic adviser Lawrence Summers said President Barack Obama "is committed to not repeating the fiscal mistakes of the last eight years."

Summers' letter was in response to correspondence Obama received last week from Boehner and other top House Republicans, who complained that the administration was having no impact on unemployment and recommended a series of tax breaks to invigorate the economy.

Summers replied that the $787 billion stimulus package that Congress passed at Obama's urging contained a mix of spending and tax relief that helped avert a worse economic downturn. He said that while unemployment now stands at 9.8 percent, the pace of job losses is decreasing from an average of 691,000 jobs per month in the first quarter of this year to a 256,000 monthly average in the third quarter."

More: "Summers promised to review the Republican suggestions, which included small business tax exemptions and lowering the 15 and 10 percent tax rates for all taxpayers.

Speaking at an economic conference Monday in St. Louis, Summers said growing unemployment was the most important economic problem facing the Obama administration."

More: "The second half of Summers's letter was devoted to arguing that Republican presidents are to blame for deepening the nation's deficits with "fiscal irresponsibility." In the 1980s, the nation's debt as a share of the overall economy nearly doubled, he wrote. Under President Bill Clinton, who appointed Summers to high-ranking Treasury posts, that trend reversed itself, he said.

Summers added that three major initiatives under Bush -- tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a Medicare prescription drug bill -- are projected to add $6 trillion to the nation's deficits."