President Obama will mark the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis Monday in an effort to turn the nation's focus back to domestic matters after his fall agenda took a backseat to dealing with Syria for the last several weeks.
In remarks Obama plans to deliver in the White House Rose Garden, he will tout the nation's economic progress since that time, including the creation of 7.5 million private-sector jobs and highlight the work we still need to do to “strengthen the middle class and those fighting to get into it,” the White House said in a statement Saturday.
The economic collapse of 2008 helped propel Obama, then the Democratic nominee for president, into the White House. But the economic recovery has been a slow slog with unemployment rates hovering at 7.3 percent, declining in part because more people have dropped out of the labor force. Only 63.2 percent of Americans now participate in the labor force, meaning they have a job or are looking for one. That's the lowest rate since August 1978.
The slow climb back from the crisis has served as a continual headache for Obama who focused his re-election campaign around the idea of growing the nation's middle class.
Obama's address comes after weeks of distraction on Syria after Obama said a Aug. 21 chemical attack had crossed his “red-line” and threatened a military strike against Syria. But Congress and the American public were deeply opposed to military action in Syria, and Obama then turned to a Russian offer to negotiate a plan to secure Assad's chemical weapons earlier this week.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday announced a “framework” deal that would destroy or remove Syria's chemical weapons.
Republicans lawmakers and even some Democrats have criticized Obama's handling of the Syria matter, arguing that his inconsistent approach has hurt his credibility on Capitol Hill and abroad.
Obama on Saturday welcomed the progress between the U.S. and Russia in Geneva, but cautioned that the international community will expect the Assad regime to live up to its commitments and threatened consequences if he did not.
When delivering remarks on the economy, Obama will be joined on stage by people who have benefited from his economic policies over the last five years, including small business owners, construction workers, homeowners, consumers and tax-cut recipients, according to the White House.
Highlighting the positive impacts his economic policies have made, he will try to position himself for the budget battles with Republicans expected in the weeks ahead.
He is also expected to hit Republicans for suggestions by some in their party that they should threaten to shut down the government if he and other Democrats refuse to agree to spending cuts as part of an agreement to raise the debt limit. Without new spending authority, the government would run out of money for its operations on Oct. 1.