Obama: Too Many Americans Still Treading Water

barack obama economy speech galesburg middle class financial meltdown
Carolyn Kaster/AP
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE

WASHINGTON -- Seeking to focus public attention on the problem he was sent to the White House to solve, President Barack Obama is making a renewed push for policies to expand the middle class, helping people he says are still treading water years after the financial meltdown.

Obama will use a series of back-to-back speeches during two days to take another stab at selling the public on his vision of a thriving economy.

The first of those speeches comes Wednesday when Obama visits the Midwest to speak at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., where he gave his first major speech as a freshman U.S. senator in 2005 during booming economic times. He isn't expected to announce any new initiatives. The president also speaks later in the day at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. The third speech is set for Thursday at the Jacksonville Port Authority in Florida.


The White House is billing Obama's latest speech at Knox College as a major one, comparable in tone to the commencement address he delivered there eight years ago, also about the economy. Back then he talked about how the country can give every American a "fighting chance" in a 21st century transformed by technology and globalization.

The trio of speeches comes as Congress prepares to leave Washington next week for its monthlong August recess. These and other speeches planned for the coming weeks and months are designed to increase public pressure on lawmakers in hopes of avoiding showdowns over taxes and spending in the fall. The White House believes such stalemates will stunt the economy, which has added more than 200,000 jobs a month in the past six months. The new federal budget year begins Oct. 1 and the government will soon hit its borrowing limit.

Republican congressional leaders dismissed Obama's effort as the latest act in what one called the "endless political road-shows."

Reversing Underlying Trends

In his 2005 speech at Knox College, Obama spoke about how technology and globalization and the weakening of labor unions had upended the idea that those who worked hard would be able to get good jobs that paid enough to support their families, provided adequate health care, allowed them to retire with dignity and gave them hope that their children would have a better future.

He was expected to argue Wednesday that those underlying trends haven't been reversed.

"They are still a central challenge that we face," Obama told supporters Monday night in Washington. "There's no more important question for this country than how do we create an economy in which everybody who works hard feels like they can get ahead and feel some measure of security."

Other issues, like stemming climate change, advancing women's and civil rights, and reducing gun violence, are important too, Obama said. "But what we also know is, is that so many of the issues that we care about are more likely to progress if people feel good about their own lives and their economic situation."

Republicans mocked Obama's new focus on the economy.

"Welcome to the conversation, Mr. President. We've never left it," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. He suggested that approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast and delaying Obama's health-care law would do more to create jobs than delivering speeches would.

"If Washington Democrats were really serious about turning the economy around, they'd be working collaboratively with Republicans to do just that, instead of just sitting on the sidelines and waiting to take their cues from the endless political road-shows the president cooks up whenever he feels like changing the topic," added Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

Focusing on the Economy

Obama said Wednesday's speeches begin a monthslong effort to refocus on the economy. New policy proposals are expected to be included in a series of single-issue, follow-up speeches planned through September.

The economy largely has been overshadowed in the first six months of Obama's second term, partly driven by a White House that chose to invest time and political capital on other parts of his agenda, such as the failed effort to enact stricter gun laws and the push for an immigration bill.

Circumstances outside of the White House's control also played a role, including the civil war in Syria, the coup in Egypt and renewed attention by Congress to the deadly attack on Americans in Libya. Closer to home, the targeting of political groups by the Internal Revenue Service and the seizure of journalists' telephone records by the Justice Department also required large investments of White House time.

The economy has showed slow improvement throughout, registering gains in the housing and stock markets and consumer confidence. The national unemployment rate, though it remains high by historical levels, actually is down to 7.6 percent.

But the coming fiscal deadlines threaten to undo that progress, adding a sense of urgency to the push in Washington and with the public at large to focus on the economy.


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189 Comments

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h.hughjardon

Keep rating em dumbasss

July 24 2013 at 10:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
amecomptec

I wish I could be a little ***** liberal like tom hill.... what a whimpy world it would be!!!

July 24 2013 at 9:36 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to amecomptec's comment
teapotparty11

JUST JOIN THE TEAPARTY MOVEMENT!!! HATE EVERYTHING, SAY NO TO EVERYTHING, OBSTRUCT EVERYTHING, GET NOTHING DONE IT'S GREAT!!!

TEAPARTY FOREVER!!!
ANGLE/O'DONNELL 2016!!!

July 24 2013 at 9:44 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to teapotparty11's comment
h.hughjardon

You already voted your shlt up four times?

What a loser

July 24 2013 at 9:59 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down
teapotparty11

UH OH JO JO HAS BEEN HITTING THE FIRE WATER TONIGHT!

July 24 2013 at 10:08 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down
h.hughjardon

Same shlt....different toilet.

He needs some new material. How many times will he give this speech when the GDP has been hovering just above recession levels?

July 24 2013 at 9:23 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
Georgia A McD

Hi is not concerned enough to quit wasting our hard earned money on constant lavish travel for himself and his family using our money

July 24 2013 at 5:48 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
cpo1514

Obama: Too Many Americans Still Treading Water
by The Associated Press Jul 24th 2013 6:55AM

Solution... Obama... quit pissing in the pool... resign!!!!!

July 24 2013 at 5:42 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
Spike

Just because a person has a "title" doesn't make him one- -example- -PRESIDENT Obama.

July 24 2013 at 4:59 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
KatTraxx

There are 3 things wrong with the U.S. economy: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

July 24 2013 at 4:52 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to KatTraxx's comment
h.hughjardon

Biden's three letter word

July 24 2013 at 9:33 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
jrb359

I wonder if these kids know that they will be working to pay down his debt, or if he told them to sign up for obamacare tax ASAP!

July 24 2013 at 4:49 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
notre123

47,000,000 with Food Stamps should tell you something about giving away a hand out.

PS Why don't we start and see what you and Ms POTUS are hiding in your college records........?

July 24 2013 at 4:48 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to notre123's comment
cpo1514

makes no difference what the 'student visa' has in his Harvard records. He doesnt understand economics, finance, business. Major was **** disturbing & coke snorting. Read his book

July 24 2013 at 5:44 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cpo1514's comment
h.hughjardon

But unlike hugo, the taxpayers didn't

July 24 2013 at 9:34 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down
mac2jr

Here is another reason we are in trouble, I posted "mac2jr
Understanding the Water System's Infrastructure and why we in the USA need to repair it, now.." along with nearly four dozen possible job positions that can be generated by rebuilding our 100-year old Water Infrastructure and got nothing but a -4 negative response.

Several knowledgeable people that deal with the Nation's Water Infrastructure were on television this week describing the crumbling that is happening nationwide, and that it will cost upwards of several hundred billions, one estimate at over one-trillion to put the systems back into decent repair.

Fixing this problem now will generate jobs, and prevent very costly replacement in the future. Wake Up America, stop listening to the Republicans and those that are against jobs and infrastructure development, the future of the U.S.A. depends on it.

July 24 2013 at 4:48 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mac2jr's comment
ozzyfan123199

Sounds good....Now where's the money to pay for it???

July 25 2013 at 6:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply