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Obama heads out on new jobs tour - first stop: Austin, Texas

U.S. President Barack Obama waves from the Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, May 5, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed
U.S. President Barack Obama waves from the Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, May 5, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will travel on Thursday to Austin, Texas, the first stop in a new series of day trips designed to draw attention to policies and programs that help spur the economy, and build support for his economic policies, the White House said on Sunday.

In Austin, Obama will visit a high school and a technology company, and will talk with entrepreneurs and workers about proposals he made earlier this year to boost jobs and training.

Despite often saying that his top priority is creating more jobs, Obama's proposals have been overshadowed by debates over reforms to gun and immigration laws as well as efforts to reduce the deficit.

Unemployment in the United States fell to 7.5 percent last month, the lowest level since Obama took office.

"Things are getting better, but our economic recovery is not as strong as it could be and far too many middle class families are still struggling," said Josh Earnest, Obama's deputy press secretary.

"There are things Washington could be doing right now to help American businesses, schools and workers," he said, explaining the tours are designed to engage Americans and push Congress to act.

In February, Obama said he wanted to invest in manufacturing "hubs" around the country, spend $50 billion on roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour from the current $7.25.

Most of the proposals require Congressional approval, but there have been few signs of broad support for the measures on Capitol Hill.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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