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Obama To Deliver Second Economic Speech

President Barack Obama speaking in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 06 Sep 2010

President Barack Obama speaking in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 06 Sep 2010

President Obama goes to Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday to announce the second of two initiatives unveiled this week aimed at helping the U.S. economy. Mr. Obama's efforts come amid increasingly bleak public opinion polls reflecting skepticism about steps taken to spur economic recovery.

In Cleveland, the president will announce plans to expand a research and development tax credit, which would amount to billions of dollars in savings for small businesses that are a key focus of steps his administration has taken for economic recovery

This follows his speech on Monday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in which he announced he will ask Congress for $50 billion to upgrade the nation's road, rail and other infrastructure.

Both initiatives are part of a White House effort to focus attention on what the president and officials describe not specifically as another major stimulus, but as proposals to get the economy moving and set the stage for longer-term growth.

But with less than two months before mid-term congressional elections that are looking increasingly perilous for majority Democrats, public opinion polls indicate the president may be having difficulty getting the message across.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs did not say that Mr. Obama is counting on the Democratic-controlled Congress acting on the initiatives before Americans go to the polls in November.

Amid the latest polls showing a sharp increase in negativity about Mr. Obama's handling of the economy, Gibbs also rejected the suggestion that the president's purpose in rolling out the initiatives now is directly linked to the elections.

"Look, we're in the political season," said Robert Gibbs. "We get that. This is not simply something that the president is proposing to get us somehow through the next seven weeks [during political campaigning] of how we get our economy from where it is to where we want it to be."

The Cleveland venue for Mr. Obama's Wednesday speech is deliberate. It was there late last month that the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, John Boehner, blasted Mr. Obama's economic policies and urged him to fire key economic advisers.

Press Secretary Gibbs said the president will contrast administration economic policies with Republican policies that got the U.S. into its economic mess.

On Monday in Milwaukee, Mr. Obama took aim at Mr. Boehner and Republicans.

"We have tried what they are peddling," said President Obama. "We did it for 10 years. We ended up with the worst economy since the 1930's, and record deficits to boot."

On the eve of President Obama's Cleveland speech, a statement from Mr. Boehner's office called the president's proposals "the product of political season panic among Washington Democrats."

The White House has also had to respond to questions about published comments by President Obama's former budget director, Peter Orszag, appearing to put the two at odds on tax policy.

Writing in the New York times, Mr. Orszag suggested that tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush should be extended, including rates for wealthier Americans, though he said all tax cuts should end in two years.

White House officials reiterated President Obama's position that tax cuts for higher earning Americans should be allowed to expire, with middle class cuts being extended, something he is expected to underscore again when he speaks in Cleveland on Wednesday.