With a mass shooting situation still in progress, the President gave a speech Monday focusing on his administration's response to the financial crisis and his ongoing push in that regard, railing against Republican attempts to derail his agenda.
"We've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis," the president said, "and begun to lay a new foundation for economic growth and prosperity." The rubble includes a number of things the president cited on the campaign trail — new financial regulations and shifts in the tax code. But he also included the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, in that list, presaging his broader argument.
You may remember that the president attempted to reboot his push for bolstering the middle class in a series of speeches this summer — speeches that largely excluded policy proposals. While that agenda largely stalled in the face of the multiple priorities D.C. has focused on in the months since — Syria, the NSA, the August recess — the president tried to argue on Monday that the ongoing recovery is threatened by the upcoming fight over funding the government and paying its bills.
It's never been easy to get 535 people here in Washington to agree on anything. … I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it cannot get 100 percent of what it wants. That's never happened before. But that's what's happening now.
As this debate evolves over the next several weeks, Republicans will focus on a push to delay or defund the president's healthcare plan. He walked through his opponents' past objections — the deficit, which is "going down faster then any time since before I was born," Obama said; tax changes — and suggested that the ongoing Obamacare objections were a function of obstinance, not concern for the economy.
The president cited the sequestration as the sort of policy that his opponents have accepted but which are hurting the economy. He noted that 7.5 private sector jobs have been created since the economic downturn, as shown below. But that excludes public sector jobs, which continue to decline; Washington, D.C., has seen its unemployment rate stagnate thanks to the broad cuts.
Last week, we outlined some of the broader economic changes that have occurred since the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers five years ago Sunday. Among those changes: income recovery has been almost entirely been among the top one percent of income-earners. The president noted that shift as well, saying, "the trends that have taken hold over the past few decades of a winner-take-all economy ... those trends have been made worse by the recession."
Cable networks, torn between covering the president's speech and new details of a crime-in-progress, quickly shifted from Obama back to the shooting.