Obama appeared particularly relaxed during a speech in Kansas City aimed at rallying public support for his economic policies.
Sans jacket with his sleeves rolled up, the president engaged in jovial back-and-forth with audience members and seemed to bask in some good news about the growth of the economy in the second quarter – no doubt a welcome change from the series of overseas crises that has marked the summer months.
“This morning we found out that in the second quarter of this year, our economy grew at a strong pace,” he said. “And businesses are investing. Workers are building new homes. Consumers are spending.”
With the economy showing some signs of improvement, Obama stressed that it’s a pivotal time to make sure that “ordinary folks are benefiting from growth.”
“That’s what’s at stake right now – making sure our economy works for every American,” he said.
During the summer months, Obama has been traveling to different states to fundraise as well as deliver campaign-like speeches.
With just more than three months before the Congressional midterm elections, Obama Wednesday revived some lines from his 2008 campaign, blasting special interests and lobbyists who want to “maintain the status quo” in Washington and encouraging the crowd to shrug off cynicism even if it’s “fashionable.”
“You don’t have time to be cynical,” he said. “Hope is a better choice. That’s what I need you for,” he said.
Just minutes before he was blaming Republicans for the gridlock in Washington, for failing to pass a minimum wage, equal-pay legislation and a bill to help lower student loan rates – all policies he went on to partially address by bypassing Congress and issuing executive actions.
Scolding Republicans to “stop just hating all the time,” he said GOP lawmakers need to “help out a little bit.”
“I know they’re not that happy that I’m president, but that’s okay,” he said to laughs. “I’ve only got a couple of years left. C’mon, let’s get some work done, then you can be mad at the next president.”
Before Congress leaves for its August recess at the end of the week, he said it needs to pass a bill to fix the Highway Trust Fund, which is running out of money to help rebuild roads and bridges, and an emergency spending bill to help fight wildfires out West and provide resources to help deal with the border crisis.
“So there’s a bunch of stuff that needs to get done,” he said. “Unfortunately, [I] think the main vote that they’ve scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job,” he said.
Earlier in the week, House Republicans slashed President Obama’s $3.8 billion request to $659 million while the Senate cut more than a billion, reducing its version to $2.7 billion. The House and Senate were set to hash out the difference until Reid tried to broaden the debate to more general support for the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year but was a nonstarter in the House.
With the two sides at loggerheads mid-week, the White House tried to focus the blame for lack of swift action on Republicans.
The administration issued a sharply worded veto threat of the House version of the border spending bill, calling out Republicans for failing to “fix the nation’s broken immigration system” and instead releasing “patchwork” legislation “that will only put more arbitrary and unrealistic demands on an already broken system.”
The veto threat also took issue with language in the House bill altering a 2008 law to allow immigration authorities to speed the deportation of children seeking asylum from Central America.
Obama himself requested the changes then later backed away from them after Latino groups voiced strong opposition.
“This bill would undercut the due process of for vulnerable children, which could result in their removal to life-threatening situations in foreign countries,” the White House said.
The White House also said the House version fails to provide enough resources to fight fires and doesn’t include funding to support Israel’s request for more funding for it’s Iron Dome missile defense system.