WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will throw his weight behind legislative bids to reform healthcare and cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions on Tuesday in his fourth White House press conference since taking office.
Obama, who has focused his first five months as president on trying to end the recession, is likely to discuss his plans to create jobs and stem unemployment, which economists expect will hit 10 percent in coming months.
The president will use the occasion, again, to discuss the progress that he believes the country needs to make on laying that foundation for long-term growth, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Monday.
The president will talk about progress that we've made and is being made on energy independence, legislation going through Congress, and I anticipate he'll also have comments on what we're seeing in Iran.
Legislation on two of Obama's signature issues -- covering 46 million Americans who do not have health insurance and capping carbon dioxide pollution from major industries -- is currently moving through the U.S. Congress.
But both bills face obstacles. Lawmakers are worried about the $1 trillion healthcare reform is expected to cost over the next 10 years, while the climate bill's chances of passage, though more positive in the House of Representatives, are less clear in the Senate.
Obama hopes to shore up support on both issues while addressing international crises including unrest in Iran following contested presidential elections there and tension on the Korean peninsula.
He is scheduled to make an opening statement at 12:30 p.m. EDT in the White House Rose Garden and then take questions from reporters for about an hour.
Obama will be watched closely for further changes in his tone toward Iran. The president has sharpened his criticism of the Iranian government for cracking down on demonstrators while trying to avoid the appearance of meddling.
The news conference comes as Obama, who remains personally popular with a majority of the American public, has seen polls showing declining satisfaction with his policies.
A newly released Washington Post/ABC News poll showed only about half of Americans believe the president's $787 billion stimulus package will boost the economy.
(Editing by Alan Elsner)