Politics & Government

Obama touts economic successes but said Americans don’t feel enough of benefits

President Barack Obama acknowledged Thursday that while the economy has improved significantly, millions of Americans don’t feel the benefits.

“It is indisputable that our economy is stronger today than it was when I took office,” Obama said. “At the same time, it is also indisputable that millions of Americans don’t yet feel enough of the benefits of a growing economy where it matters most – in their own lives.”

Obama touted a slew of his administration’s policies from the auto industry bailout to the federal health care in a lengthy speech at the Northwestern University’s Kellogg Business School in Evanston, IL. But most of the speech was reserved for what the White House calls “America's economic greatness” in the homestretch of the midterm election campaign.

“As Americans, we can and should be proud of the progress our country has made these past six years,” he said. “This progress has been hard, but it has been steady, and it is real. It is a direct result of the American people’s drive and determination, and the decisions made by my administration.

“All told, the United States has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every other advanced economy combined,” he said.

Obama cited a litany of statistics to show the economy has improved: Businesses are hiring 200,000 Americans a month. The unemployment rate has come down from a high of 10 percent in 2009, to 6.1 percent today. And 10 million new jobs – the longest uninterrupted stretch of private sector job creation in history.

He criticized Republicans for rejecting policies he said would help families, and failing to produce their own. “A true opposition party should have the courage to lay out their agenda.. hopefully one grounded in facts,” he said.

“I am not on the ballot this fall. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner’s Office was quick to point out that at a speech two weeks ago, he outlined a five-point long-term vision for improving the economy: fixing the tax code, reducing spending, revamping the legal system, reining in the regulatory system and strengthening education.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. said Thursday the poor and middle-class can’t find jobs or whose wages have barely budged during the Obama administration.

“The president can talk about an improving economy, but try telling that to those Americans who are suffering so much in the Obama economy,” McConnell said. “This administration has thrown a wet blanket over the economy with its focus on spending, borrowing, taxing and regulating, and those things clearly haven’t worked. We need to move in a different direction. Congress needs to pass legislation that helps create jobs instead of smothering economic opportunity.”