Speaking at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, the president said the economy is growing, following the worst downturn since the Great Depression, "but it needs to grow faster."
He said what's holding back growth is "a stalemate between two fundamentally different views in Washington about which direction we should go in." He told his audience Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, "believe that we should go back to the top-down economics of the last decade."
"They figure that if we simply eliminate regulations and cut taxes by trillions of dollars, then the market will solve all of our problems," Obama said.
"They argue that if we help corporations and wealthy investors maximize their profits by whatever means necessary -- whether through layoffs or outsourcing or union-busting -- that it will automatically translate into jobs and prosperity that benefit all of us.
"I believe we should do everything we can to help our entrepreneurs succeed," the president said. "I want our companies to be as profitable as they can be. But that alone is not enough. Because the central challenge we face right now -- the challenge that we've faced for over a decade -- is that bigger profits haven't led to better jobs. Bigger profits haven't led to higher incomes."
The president said American prosperity has always come from "a strong and growing middle class, and all those people who are striving and working to get into the middle class."
"We don't need more top-down economics," he said. "What we need is some middle class-out economics, some bottom-up economics."
Obama cautioned supporters that Republicans will "spend more money than we have ever seen in the history of the Republic" on political ads "telling you that the economy is bad, it's all my fault, and I can't fix it because government is always the answer, according to me."
"Or because I didn't make a lot of money in the private sector, or because I'm in over my head, or because I think everybody is doing just fine," the president said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
"And that may be their plan to win an election, but it's sure not a plan to create jobs," he said.