|by David Jackson, USA TODAY|
"For all the work that remains — for all the citizens we still need to reach — what I want people to know is that there are some really good things happening in America," Obama said at a speech in
Outlining what he called a "new foundation for growth and prosperity," Obama touted his energy, technology, education, health care agendas. He cited statistics showing a steady rise in jobs (including manufacturing jobs), a decline in the unemployment rate, the comeback of the U.S. car industry, and falling federal budget deficits.
Obama paid particular attention to his biggest piece of domestic legislation, the health care bill ("aka 'Obamacare,'" the president said.). Obama said the law has helped more people obtain insurance coverage, while cutting the rise in health care costs.
Fewer Republicans are running against the health care law this election year, Obama said before tossing in a barb against his least favorite cable channel: "While good, affordable health care might still be a fanged threat to freedom on
In stumping for a continuation of his economic policies, Obama also called on
"Our task now is to harness the momentum we've got and make sure that as the economy grows, and jobs grow, wages grow too," Obama said.
At one point, Obama said "this isn't a political speech," but the Democratic president also told the friendly crowd: I'm not going to tell you who to vote for — although I suppose it's kind of implied."
Obama also mocked Republican economic policies, saying they favor the wealthy over the middle class.
For their part, Republicans said that Obama-era spending and regulatory policies are what is slowing the economy.
Senate Republican leader
"We all know the stock market's been doing great and that the top 1 percent are doing just fine, but what about the poor and middle-class, who can't find jobs or whose wages have barely budged during the Obama administration?" McConnell said. "What about Americans who work in industries that liberals in
Republicans are expected to maintain control of the
Saying that "America is better poised to lead and succeed in the 21st century than any other nation on Earth," Obama — who has made heavy use of executive orders — also appeared to serve a warning to congressional Republicans: "I will not allow anyone to dismantle this foundation."
Obama also said that while he personally isn't running for anything in November, "make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot."
The president is expected to make similar arguments as he stumps for Democrats in the month ahead. The speech also provided a blueprint for Obama's last two years and four months in the presidency.
While the economy is recovering from the economic meltdown of 2008, Obama said, the benefits aren't widely shared widely, in part because of stagnant wages and incomes.
The "defining challenge of our time," Obama said, is to "make our economy work for every working American."
While most of his speech was devoted to the economy, Obama also touched on some foreign affairs, including efforts to defeat the Islamic State and to block the spread of the Ebola virus.
The president added that "what supports our leadership role in the world is the strength of our economy at home."
A group of protesters greeted Obama as he arrived at the Northwestern campus. One sign read: "US out of