By Julie Pace, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama tapped labor economist Alan Krueger for a top administration post Monday as the White House scrambles for solutions to repair an ailing economy ahead of the 2012 election.
Obama announced Krueger's nomination to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers in a Rose Garden ceremony Monday morning. The president said he expected Krueger, a former Treasury Department official and Princeton economist, to provide him with unvarnished economic guidance, not partisan political advice.
"That's more important than ever right now," Obama said. "We need folks in Washington to make decisions based on what's best for the country, not what's best for any political party or special interest."
The announcement rounding out the president's economic team comes a week ahead of Obama's highly-anticipated announcement on a new jobs initiative.
With the nation's unemployment rate stubbornly stuck above 9 percent and much of the public deeply dissatisfied with Obama's handling of the economy, the president has promised a new set of jobs proposals.
"Our great challenge as a nation remains how to get this economy growing faster," Obama said. "That's our urgent mission."
Obama has already called for an extension of a payroll tax cut that expires at the end of the year and he wants to continue jobless benefits. Aides are considering other measures, including tax incentives for businesses to hire and direct infusions of government money into construction projects. The president has said he intends to call for additional long-term deficit reduction to help pay for the short-term spending his proposals would require.
House Republicans foreshadowed their own fall agenda Monday, with Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., saying the party would focus on repealing environmental and labor regulations that GOP lawmakers say are driving up the cost of doing business and discouraging employers from hiring new workers.