President Obama will gather at the White House Friday with CEOs from some of the nation's largest companies to press forward on a State of the Union pitch to mitigate discrimination against the long-term unemployed.
White House officials, previewing the meeting, said Obama would announce that more than 300 companies have agreed to develop so-called best practices to ensure the long-term unemployed aren't unfairly screened out of potential jobs. The federal government is doing the same, Obama will say.
The president will also tout a $150 million Labor Department grant competition to develop ways for those out of work more than six months to find jobs.
The event on Friday will cap a campaign this week by the White House to frame the president as willing to act regardless of congressional barriers.
However, critics are accusing the White House of both sidestepping Congress and pursuing a modest agenda that undercuts the president's pledge to deliver major solutions to the nation's most vexing problems.
“There exists executive action that serves to complement legislative action,” deputy press secretary Josh Earnest insisted, saying the White House's efforts were “not a reflection merely of our frustration with Congress.”
“There is a negative cycle in long-term unemployment,” added Obama’s top economic adviser, Gene Sperling. “People who stay unemployed six months or longer start facing significant disadvantages in the labor market.”
According to the White House, those who have been unemployed longer than six months receive only one job interview for every 35 resumes they send out. In comparison, an individual who has been out of work for a month lands one interview for every 10 resumes submitted, the White House said.
Among the organizations attending the meeting with Obama Friday: LinkedIn, JPMorgan Chase and the AARP Foundation.
And Sperling said the White House effort received at least one atypical endorsement — from media tycoon and frequent Obama critic Rupert Murdoch.
The economic adviser added that Murdoch committed to implementing the blueprint recommended by the White House.
Obama will also use the event to pressure Congress to extend jobless benefits that expired at the end of December. The White House acknowledges that doing so would be far more consequential than the president’s latest executive action.
And in the wake of his State of the Union address, Obama has been forced to confront charges that he’s no longer trying to get big-ticket items done.
“In no way are my expectations diminished or my ambitions diminished,” Obama told CNN, “but what is obviously true is we’ve got divided government right now.”