U.S. President Barack Obama and a top Republican lawmaker acknowledged the nation's economic struggles as part of their Thanksgiving holiday messages on Thursday. Both are also paying tribute to U.S. service members who are spending the holiday away from home.
President Obama, along with Representative Mike Pence, expressed his gratitude to U.S. military men and women who are apart from their families on Thanksgiving Day.
"We keep in our thoughts and prayers the many families marking this Thanksgiving with an empty seat-saved for a son or daughter, or husband or wife, stationed in harm's way," he said.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president also said he is concerned about the many Americans who are struggling in a slumping economy in which the nation's unemployment rate has topped 10 percent.
"Many have lost jobs in this recession - the worst in generations. Many more are struggling to afford health care premiums and house payments, let alone to save for an education or retirement," said Mr. Obama. "Too many are wondering if the dream of a middle class life, that American dream, is slipping away."
/Mr. Obama says his administration has cut taxes for nearly all working Americans and for small businesses, and extended unemployment benefits and health care coverage for millions of people out of work. He is scheduled to meet next week with business owners, labor leaders and nonprofit executives to discuss ways to create more jobs.
But in the weekly Republican message, Representative Pence, from the central state of Indiana, said the president's initiatives are making things worse.
"The Obama administration and the Democratic majority in Congress have taken our economy from bad to worse, with their failed economic agenda and big government plans," said Pence. "And as if all this were not enough, Democrats in Washington continue to push for government-run [health] insurance."
Pence said the president's $787 billion economic stimulus plan costs too much, and is not creating jobs.
"In the city and on the farm, as millions of American families struggle to balance their checkbooks in this holiday season, they watch in astonishment as Washington spends billions of dollars it does not have," added Pence.
Mr. Obama, however, said his economic recovery efforts are working. And while he said more work needs to be done, he believes the picture will be much brighter next Thanksgiving.
"And it is my fervent hope and my heartfelt expectation that next Thanksgiving, we will be able to celebrate the fact that many of those who have lost their jobs are back at work, and that as a nation we will have come through these difficult storms stronger and wiser and grateful to have reached a brighter day," said Mr. Obama.
President Obama called 10 U.S. service members on Thursday to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and to thank them for their service. The service members are deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arabian Gulf.