White House spokesman Jay Carney hasn't had an actual conversation with President Obama about New Year's resolutions. But in his first press briefing for 2014, Carney suggested that the president is optimistic that he and Congress will actually get some things done.
"I know that the president begins this year committed to working with Congress, cooperatively and in a spirit of compromise, to get things done that help the American people, that help the middle class, that help our economy grow," Carney said.
He added that Obama was "heartened" by the modest but bipartisan budget bill passed in December and would like to think that it is a positive sign that they can work on comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure investment and other crucial issues.
Carney, who debuted a new beard that soon had its own Twitter account, also said that Obama and the administration will seek ways to work and compromise with Republicans, but on areas where they cannot find common ground, the president is prepared to use "his executive authority to advance an agenda that helps the economy grow and helps the middle class feel more secure."
Battle lines already have been drawn over extending emergency unemployment insurance for long-term unemployed individuals. The Senate is considering a measure that would provide benefits for just three months. Some congressional Republicans, however, have said they will support an extension only if the cost is offset by cuts in other areas.
White House economic adviser Gene Sperling joined Carney at today's briefing to push for the extension.
"Today is the day that 1.3 million Americans start going to their mailbox and find that the check that they expected to get today is not there, the check that is a temporary lifeline for families who are facing long-term unemployment, a check that puts food on their table and perhaps the gas in their car they need to drive to interview for a new job," he told reporters.
According to Sperling, that number could grow to more than 4 million this year.
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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)