The U.S. president spoke of his economic and domestic policy agenda on Wednesday in a speech aimed to clarify his vision for his second term in the Oval Office and hammer Republicans in the House of Representatives for getting in his way.
In his speech President Barack Obama urged Congress to put an end to what he described as worsening gridlock and team up in crafting a successful agenda for other issues.
The speech was heavy on broad themes while touching on a few specifics.President Obama singled out a refinancing plan for mortgages, a fix to student loans, numerous training programs for workers andalso spoke of infrastructure repair.
“Over the last six months, this gridlock has gotten worse. I didn’t think that was possible,” the president said.
“The good news is, a growing number of Republican senators are trying to get things done, like an immigration bill that economists say will boost our economy by more than a trillion dollars. But a faction of Republicans in the House won’t even give that bill a vote, and that same group gutted a farm bill that America’s farmers and most vulnerable children depend on.”
“With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” Obama added. “And I am here to say this needs to stop. Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires.”
Speaking of the U.S. economy, the president admitted that it had significatly changed in a positive way since he was elected to be the president, but also conceded that the status quo was not good enough.
The current state of income inequality, he stressed, “isn’t just morally wrong; it’s bad economics.” America, Obama continued, had to make new investments such as “rebuilding our manufacturing base, educating our workforce, [and] upgrading our transportation and information networks.”
“We’ve seen a sizable group of Republican lawmakers suggest they wouldn’t vote to pay the very bills that Congress rang up – a fiasco that harmed a fragile recovery in 2011, and one we can’t afford to repeat,” Obama said.
“Then, rather than reduce our deficits with a scalpel – by cutting programs we don’t need, fixing ones we do, and making government more efficient – this same group has insisted on leaving in place a meat cleaver called the sequester that has cost jobs, harmed growth, hurt our military, and gutted investments in American education and scientific and medical research that we need to make this country a magnet for good jobs.”
The buildup to the president’s Wednesday speech has been relentless, as the government seeks to get past a rough start to his second term, which has been marked by a series of thorny domestic and foreign issues.
“An early push to toughen gun laws failed in Congress, and the Republican-led House has said it will not move ahead on sweeping immigration reforms passed by the Senate,” Reuters reminds.
The White House has been also involved into the international scandal regarding phone and internet surveillance, and over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives groups seeking tax-exempt status.