WASHINGTON, June 1 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday there are "a lot of reasons to feel optimistic" but he urged Congress to do more to promote economic recovery.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said the nation has been "fighting our way back from an economic crisis and punishing recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and the sense of security they'd worked so hard to build." He said the economy has created nearly 7 million new jobs in the past four years and Americans are buying "more cars than we have in five years."
Obama said deficits are "shrinking at the fastest rate in decades," the rate of growth in healthcare costs is slowing, and the housing market is recovering.
"Now we need to do more," the president said.
"This week, my administration announced that we're extending a program to help more responsible families modify their mortgages so they can stay in their homes.
"But to keep our housing market and our economy growing, Congress needs to step up and do its part. Members of Congress will be coming back next week for an important month of work. We've got to keep this progress going until middle-class families start regaining that sense of security. And we can't let partisan politics get in the way."
Obama called on Congress to enact legislation "giving every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low interest rates."
"Congress should put more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, like the one that collapsed last week in Washington state," the president said. "We'd all be safer, and the unemployment rate would fall faster."
He said Congress "should fix our broken immigration system by passing commonsense reform that continues to strengthen our borders; holds employers accountable; provides a pathway to earned citizenship; and also modernizes our legal immigration system so that we're reuniting families and attracting the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help our economy grow."
"So there are a lot of reasons to feel optimistic about where we're headed as a country -- especially after all we've fought through together," Obama said.