"The biggest impact you can have on the macro economy requires
legislation," White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman
Jason Furman said.
However, "an issue like climate change and energy security, there's
a lot we can do administratively," Furman added in response to
questions at Third Way, a think tank.
Obama has had a combative relationship with the
Republican-controlled House of Representatives and would face an
uphill struggle for most of his jobs and economic proposals. While a
recent budget deal that reversed some spending cuts was viewed as a
ceasefire, it is unclear whether the spirit of compromise will go
In that environment, the president has brought in John Podesta, a
former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, saying that among
Podesta's duties will be to craft executive actions the president
can take without needing congressional approval.
Furman said the president's big-ticket agenda items such as
universal early education or infrastructure would require
"We're looking at a range of other actions that would affect wages
and inequality, but the biggest dials are still legislative," he
Furman cited the December budget compromise as an example of a
legislative accomplishment that had an impact on the broad economy.
However, that measure did not include an extension of long-term
unemployment insurance beyond January 1, which is something the
president continues to urge Congress to take up, he said.
[to top of second column]
The president will push for an increase in the minimum wage, Furman
said. The wage currently stands at $7.25 an hour and Obama has said
he would like to see it rise to $9 an hour.
Furman pointed to past minimum wage increases signed into law by
Republican presidents or under a Republican Speaker of the House of
"There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to do something like
that," he said.
Highway reauthorization that expires in the fall is another
opportunity to pass legislation that could boost growth, Furman
However, Furman said the White House will work with businesses to
encourage hiring practices that would make a dent in long-term
The White House is also taking a look at regulations to see which
ones could be simplified, he added.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; editing by Andre Grenon)
[© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2013 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.