President Barack Obama said Wednesday that Washington has "taken its eye off the ball" as he pledged a stronger second-term commitment to tackling the economic woes that strain many in the middle class nearly five years after the country plunged into a recession.
Obama returned to the college campus where he gave his first major economic address as a U.S. senator, and he chided Congress for being less concerned about the economy and more about "an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals."
"I am here to say this needs to stop," Obama said in a speech at Knox College. "This moment does not require short term thinking. It does not require having the same old stale debates."
How's it playing with the pundits?
Jonathan Chait writes:
President Obama’s economic speech today is putatively a broad-stroke overview of his economic vision — investing in physical infrastructure and early childhood education, restraining runaway inflation in the cost of health care and college, and marginally shifting the burden of government away from the middle class and toward the rich. In reality, it is a call for a responsible opposition.
Thematically, it is hard to build a speech around the opposition when you’re president, because people expect the president to lead and set the agenda. But the extraordinary tactics of the House Republicans have created an unusual and counterintuitive situation wherein the president’s agenda is mostly irrelevant. Conservatives simply refuse to negotiate with Obama in conventional terms. Their strategy is to threaten a series of crises — government shutdown, defaulting on the debt — in order to force the president to offer unilateral concessions.
Ezra Klein writes:
It’s not that President Obama’s big economic speech (which you can read here) was bad. It’s that it was, unexpectedly, a warm-up rather than the main event. Obama said it himself. “Let me give you a quick preview of what I’ll be fighting for and why,” he told the crowd. The meat of Obama’s economic policy agenda will be unveiled in a series of speeches over the next several weeks.
Chris Cillizza writes:
And, it seems incredibly unlikely that this speech, which Obama gave some version of for virtually the entirety of his 2012 campaign, will change any GOP minds.
Fred Barnes writes:
A quick read turns up false and misleading claims, pious promises, and statements that mean nothing. “I will engage the American people in this debate” over America’s future, he said. Not with this boring, forgettable speech, he won’t. Somebody at the White House needs to tell truth to power: Mr. Obama, no one takes your speeches seriously any more.
Curtis Dubay wrote:
Rather than offering new solutions that could revive the dormant economy and put people back to work, the President offered the same old policies that have already failed, namely more stimulus spending on infrastructure and misguided educational programs. Taking money out of one area of the economy and spending it in another through the government does not create economic growth.