Obama promoting economic gains as elections near
FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama greets supporters before speaking on the economy at the Milwaukee Laborfest in Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee. The last time President Barack Obama came to Wisconsin to celebrate workers' rights on Labor Day, there was barely a hint of the turmoil that was to come just months later as public employees fought unsuccessfully to retain their ability to collectively bargain. Now, four years later, as the architect of the law that stripped unions of that power faces re-election, Obama is coming back to Milwaukee for an event also featuring Gov. Scott Walker's Democratic challenger Mary Burke. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FILE - This June 13, 2014 file photo shows President Barack Obama speaking on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a White House official said Monday. The move follows years of pressure from gay rights groups for Obama to act on his own while a broader employment non-discrimination measure languishes on Capitol Hill. The Senate passed the legislation last year but the bill stalled in the Republican-led House and there is little sign that lawmakers will take it up in an election year. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Boosted by recent economic gains, President Obama is sounding more bullish about the nation’s recovery from the Great Recession and the White House is encouraging Democrats to show similar optimism as they head into the November midterm elections.
Despite turmoil in the Middle East and along the Ukraine-Russia border, the top issue with Americans remains the economy. And while consumer confidence appears to be improving, the public remains anxious over the recovery’s reach and sustainability.
Yesterday, Obama scheduled a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee to promote the economy in a state that was the epicenter of a fight over the collective bargaining rights of public employees. He’s also pressing the case for a federal increase in the minimum wage – a top issue for Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden took a similar Labor Day message to Detroit, telling hundreds of union members yesterday they deserve a “fair share” of any improvement in corporate profits.
Until now, Obama and his aides had been cautious about drawing too much attention to positive economic trends, worried that some may prove illusory or that, even if true, not all Americans were benefiting from them.
White House aides still insist they are not declaring full victory over the lingering effects of a recession that ended five years ago.
But White House officials believe it is time to highlight recent improvements, in part to strengthen what is a difficult political environment for Democrats and to counter public perceptions that are eroding the president’s public approval. Officials say Obama’s most compelling case is to compare the economy now with what he inherited in 2009 in the aftermath of a near Wall Street meltdown.
“The one thing that I can say is that because of the incredible resilience and strength of the American people, but also because we made some good decisions even though they were tough at the time, we are better off as a country than we were when I came into office,” Obama said at a fundraiser Friday.
In an August memo to House and Senate Democrats, Obama’s top two economic advisers underscored the positive news: more than 200,000 jobs created per month for six consecutive months, a six-year high in auto sales, second-quarter economic growth that exceeded expectations and an expanding manufacturing sector.