WHITE HOUSE —
President Barack Obama has made the first in a series of speeches intended to focus attention on his efforts to accelerate the economic recovery.
At a college in the small town of Galesburg, Illinois, President Obama reminded Americans that he is committed to extending the economic recovery to the poor and the middle class.
“The only thing I care about is how to use every minute of the remaining 1,276 days of my term to make this country work for working Americans again," he said.
The speech was the first of three the president will give on the economy this week, with more expected in the coming months. It was the latest of numerous White House re-starts on the economy.
Obama accused opposition Republicans in Congress of blocking his economic plans for political reasons.
“But with this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. This needs to stop," he said.
As in the past, he called for improvements to infrastructure, the tax code, the home mortgage system, education and the minimum wage, as well as implementing his health care reform plan - which House Republicans have voted to repeal.
Polls show Americans are worried about the sluggish economy.
Steve Bell heads economic studies at Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center.
“By about a two-to-one margin, Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction, it has gotten off track. It has been that way now for about six or seven years," he said.
Bell says Americans can see that the slow economic recovery is not reaching the working class.
“Bit by bit, Americans feel in their, you know, feel in their bones when things in their community are not going right," he said.
But, he says, the president’s economic proposals face as much Republican opposition as ever.
Before Obama delivered his speech, the top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, dismissed it.
“It’s just such a colossal waste of time and energy - resources that would be better spent actually working with both parties in Congress to grow the economy and create jobs," he said.
Despite the opposition, the president hopes to increase public pressure on Congress to avoid showdowns over taxes and spending in the coming months.