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Americas

Obama addresses health care, Iran in press conference

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-23

Facing pressure from a host of foreign policy challenges and a huge domestic reform program, US President Barack Obama will seek to advance his wide-ranging agenda in a White House news conference on Tuesday.

Reuters - 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 (1630 GMT) 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.


What will he say?

Here is a look at a few of the issues that may come up:

ECONOMY
Obama likely will take the opportunity to again lay out the steps his administration has taken to rescue the economy from its worst recession in decades. While there are hopeful signs the economy is slowly recovering, thousands of Americans still are losing their jobs every month. Obama also may address Americans' concerns about the size of the country's deficit, which is projected to grow to about $1.8 trillion this year, and increased government intervention in the economy.

HEALTH
Obama is in campaign mode this week trying to drive healthcare reform legislation through Congress that will provide health insurance coverage for some 46 million Americans without it. He is facing opposition from Republicans and other critics who say its $1 trillion price tag makes it too expensive, although a poll published at the weekend found that Americans were willing to pay higher taxes to fund it.

IRAN
How to deal with the aftermath of Iran's presidential election has proven to be the biggest foreign policy challenge for Obama's young administration. He is under pressure from Republicans to speak more forcefully about the Iranian government's crackdown on demonstrators who say the election won by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was rigged. Obama has sharpened his rhetoric on the crackdown, but with an eye on holding eventual talks with Iran on its nuclear program, he has chosen his words carefully in his comments on the election results.

CLIMATE CHANGE
Obama has made fighting climate change a priority. Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives hope they can soon pass a bill that would significantly reduce industry emissions of carbon dioxide, but it faces tough going in the Senate. Failure to pass the bill before the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen would be a major blow to Obama.

NORTH KOREA
The United States is prepared for the possibility that North Korea may attempt to launch a missile toward Hawaii, Obama said at the weekend. This follows the United Nations Security Council's toughening of sanctions on Pyongyang over its atomic program and a nuclear test it conducted on May 25. The impoverished Communist-ruled state has so far rebuffed Obama's offer of diplomatic engagement and toughened its sabre-rattling rhetoric.

G8
The leaders of the G8 club of industrial nations will gather in L'Aquila in Italy next month to discuss how to jump-start the global economy and when and how to unwind international stimulus efforts, along with trade liberalization and climate change. For Obama it will be an opportunity to build on his efforts to restore the United States' international standing after his predecessor, George W. Bush, alienated many allies with his go-it-alone diplomacy.

Date created : 2009-06-23

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