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Gibbs: Obama to focus on economy, education, already passed reforms

By the CNN Wires Staff
President Obama needs Democrats and Republicans to work together to deal with the federal debt, Robert Gibbs said.
President Obama needs Democrats and Republicans to work together to deal with the federal debt, Robert Gibbs said.
  • White House aide outlines next two years under Obama
  • Gibbs says bipartisan effort needed to deal with federal deficit
  • "Don't ask, don't tell" policy will be repealed, Gibbs says

Washington (CNN) -- Facing the certainty of fewer Democrats in Congress, President Barack Obama will focus on strengthening the economy and trying to ensure its future stability, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday.

Speaking on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Gibbs said Obama also will continue pushing for education reform and making sure that health care and Wall Street reforms are properly implemented.

Gibbs said he believes Democrats will retain majorities in both the House and Senate, though polling and pundits say the House is in jeopardy and some losses are certain.

Asked about a so-called "Obama 2.0" agenda for the remaining two years of his term, Gibbs said it will emphasize strengthening the economy and moving it forward, with the biggest concern being the unsustainable fiscal situation in the medium- and long-term.

Obama needs Democrats and Republicans to work together to deal with the federal debt, Gibbs said. A bipartisan debt commission is scheduled to report a set of proposals in December.

Video: David Axelrod talks elections, tax cuts

The president also wants to continue his push for education reform, and to ensure there is proper follow-through on the health care and financial sector reform laws passed this year, Gibbs said.

"It's going to take a lot of energy and coordination to implement those," he said.

Gibbs made no mention of major issues such as immigration reform and energy reform, which Obama pushed strongly in his first two years.

However, Gibbs declared that the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring openly gay and lesbian soldiers "will end under this president."

The government last week sought to halt an injunction imposed by a federal judge that would immediately stop the military from further enforcing the policy.

Gibbs said the best way to end the policy would be for Congress to change the law, noting the House has passed a repeal measure and the Senate is expected to take it up after the November 2 congressional elections.

"It's a law and the most durable solution is to change that law," Gibbs said, adding that the proposals before Congress establish "an orderly and disciplined transition from what we have now to an era after" the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Under the congressional measures, the policy would be repealed once the military completes a review of the issue this year and the president, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman approve the plan.

Senate Republicans blocked the chamber from taking up a defense authorization bill that included the repeal provision as well as another provision allowing children of illegal immigrants who successfully complete college or military service to start a path toward citizenship.

"I think there's enough votes to do it in the Senate, but we have get past a Republican filibuster," Gibbs said.

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