White House: Time appropriate for Obama to refocus on economy

July 22, 2013 at 5:11 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- President Obama believes it is appropriate to look broadly at the state of the U.S. economy and the path the country should take, the White House said Monday.

Beginning this week, Obama will lay out a U.S. economic-bolstering agenda in a series of speeches ahead of fiscal battles the administration expects this fall with the House. The first, billed as a major economic policy speech, will be at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., Wednesday, where he spoke in 2005.

"What is absolutely true is that we have come a long way since the depths of the Great Recession," White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a media briefing. "[But] we have more work to do. And what the president hopes to do is talk about how we can do that together, how we can do it in a way that ensures not just that jobs are created in the near term, but that we are investing in our future.

Although asked repeatedly about what Obama would say, Carney declined, saying he didn't want to get ahead of the president's message.

Carney said the speeches would take a forward-looking view, not what can happen in the next few weeks, months or even years.

"It's about a longer view of this country's future economically and how we need to ensure that we're making the right decisions and taking the right action that allows for the kind of growth, the kind of security for the middle class that will ensure the -- the health of this country's economy in the future," Carney said.

In a nod to the anticipated battles over fiscal matters, such as raising the debt ceiling, Carney said there was "no question" that some very important matters must be resolved in the coming months.

"What we're confident of is that the American people will not look kindly upon action taken here in Washington to shut down the government or default on our obligations in order to achieve political aims or to appease wings of political parties," he said.

"You will hear the president ... provide a vision of where we have been, where we are, and where we need to go. I think it's fair to say that there are important things we could do as a nation that we all know we could and should do as a nation, including investing in our infrastructure, including investing in education."

While there will be new policy issues introduced, Carney said Obama also will "refocus our attention on what he believes are the central issues that we face as a country here, at least domestically, and that is the need to continue to grow the middle class, to invest in the economy in a way that helps the members of the middle class feel more stable, and provides opportunities for those who aspire to the middle class to reach the middle class, and, in other words, for us to grow from the middle out, instead of the top down or the bottom up."

And if those themes sound familiar from his first speech at Knox College, Carney said, "we plead guilty to the charge ... . That's because the themes that you hear and the focus that you hear from the president are the very things that animate him and that inspired him to run for the presidency to begin with."

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