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Obama Focuses on Economy But Brings Nothing New to the Table

July 24, 2013 - 6:00pm

President Barack Obama took the stage in Jacksonville Thursday afternoon to cheers and a fan following -- promising to bring hope and prosperity to the middle class, yet highlighting both the failures and accomplishments of the U.S. during his time in office. He was setting the stage for a congressional cat fight over economic policy, something to give voters a reason to believe in Democratic policy and in him.

The presidents remarks were part of a multi-city speaking tour on the American economy. Critics slammed Obamas Wednesday speech in Galesburg, Ill., saying it was ultimately boring. The Telegraph called it a train wreck, saying it brought nothing new to the table. His speech in Jacksonville hit on several of the same points he made in Illinois.

But while Obama received cheers and applause from the party faithful, members of the Republican Party didnt accept all of Obamas talking points quietly. Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry spat fire over several topics in the president's remarks through his personal Twitter account.

When Obama said deficits were plummeting, Curry reeled the president back to reality.

In 2009, Obama vowed to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term in office, but in 2012, Obama held the record for the four highest deficits in American history, capping out at $1.4 trillion.

During the last year of George W. Bushs presidency, the deficit sat at less than half a trillion dollars.

The president went on to warn his audience that the work to rebuild the economy wouldnt just rest on his presidency, but that Americans would have to prepare for the long haul to see long-term economic recovery.

Weve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, began Obama, wiping sweat off his brow. And weve begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable, more sustainable economic growth.

Obama pointed out that Washington was taking its eye off the ball -- the economy -- while politicians and Obamas administration scramble to deal with the slew of scandals that took the country by storm in 2013, including Benghazi, the NSA surveillance program and the IRS targeting of political groups.

Obama brushed the scandals off, calling them phony and advised the audience to take its eyes off of the sideshow controversies and focus on the bigger picture: the economy.

The president didnt tread lightly on Republicans, either. He lashed out at criticisms of his administrations spending and the health care plan that has hit a red light with many congressmen in Washington, D.C.

"If you ask some of these same folks about how to strengthen the middle class, they will tell you, 'Oh, out-of-control spending is the problem,'" Obama said. "Or they'll say, 'Obamacare is the problem.' The problem is that we're trying to give health insurance to millions of Americans that don't have it."

The president told the audience he finds it hard to blame the Affordable Care Act for job losses when "our businesses have created jobs at nearly twice the pace of the last recovery, when there was no Obamacare."

While Obama touted higher growth in job numbers over the last decade, he failed to mention that millions of Americans have dropped out of the workforce, that more than 47 million are enrolled in the food stamp (SNAP) program, and nearly 1.2 million more Americans receive disability checks than did when he took office in 2009.

Obama called the House GOP budget plan a bad bargain for the middle class, painting a picture of Republicans as a roadblock to middle-class Americans trying to succeed.

"Shutting down the government just because I'm for keeping it open -- that's not an economic plan," he said. "Threatening that you won't pay the bills in this country, when we've already racked up those bills, that's not an economic plan -- that's just being a deadbeat."

The president emphasized a need to bring more jobs on the scene for middle-class families, which is reminiscent of his speeches while he campaigned for office in 2008 and again in 2012. His speech in Jacksonville was more successful as another promise than it was as a fresh plan he was bringing to the table.

Obama has said several times during the course of his presidencythat the economy needs rescuing. If Thursday's speech in Jacksonville is any indication, it is still crying out for help.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at

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