Obama to press economic agenda on day trips

May 6, 2013 at 3:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- President Obama plans some day trips to remind Americans the economy still tops his agenda alongside immigration reform and other issues, the White House said.

The "Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tours," which Obama plans to start in Texas Thursday, will stress that "things are getting better, but our economic recovery is not as strong as it could be and far too many middle class families are still struggling," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

"We need to build on the progress we've made over the last four years, and that means investing in things that are already creating good-paying, stable jobs that can support a middle class family," he told reporters.

The tours will resume every few weeks, the White House said.

Thursday's trip will be to Manor New Tech High School about 15 miles northeast of Austin, "where students are learning the real-world skills they need to fill the jobs that are available right now," Earnest said.

Manor opened in 2007 with the goal of preparing students "to excel in an information-based and technologically advanced society" and "to ensure their success as responsible, globally conscious citizens," the school's website says.

Obama then plans to meet with technology entrepreneurs "who are hiring workers with cutting-edge skills, and creating the tools and products that will drive America's long-term economic growth," Earnest told reporters.

"He'll also visit one of the tech companies that has made Austin a hub for innovation and job creation," Earnest said.

"Finally, the president will sit down with workers who are working hard to get into and stay in the middle class to discuss his vision for ensuring that hard work leads to a decent living," he said.

The White House offered no other destinations Sunday, with a White House official telling reporters aboard Air Force One officials were still working out trip logistics.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide background on the trips. The official spoke as Obama returned to Washington after delivering the Ohio State University commencement address.

Obama's planned day trips come as the Senate is about to begin debate on immigration overhaul and hold confirmation hearings on the president's second-term Cabinet nominees.

Washington is also debating the pros and cons of gun control measures.

With these and other issues expected to get headlines, Obama wanted "to make sure part of the discussion includes a conversation about the economy, including a focus on some of the ideas that the president rolled out in his State of the Union address," the White House official said.

In his Feb. 12 State of the Union speech, Obama said: "Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?"

He also spoke of building new "ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them."

To that end, the president is expected to push for expanded early childhood education and to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour from $7.25. The last time it was reset was July 24, 2009.

The White House official insisted the trips were not an effort to influence congressional lawmakers' votes but simply to "raise awareness."

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