On the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis that both helped President Obama win the election in 2008 and has made his tenure more challenging, the president delivered a speech about how his proposals have contributed to the nation's economic recovery.
While acknowledging the implosion on Wall Street and in the auto industry, Obama also called attention to the impact on low- and middle-income people across the nation.
"Most Americans who've known economic hardship these past several years, they don't think about the collapse of Lehman Brothers when they think about the recession," he said. "Instead, they recall the day they got the gut punch of a pink slip or the day a bank took away their home, they day they got sick but didn't have health insurance or the day they had to sit their daughter of son down and tell him or her that they couldn't afford to send their child back to college the next semester."
Those are the people, Obama said, who guided the policies his administration has pushed to restore the economy to health, such as the Affordable Care Act, tougher new regulations for the financial industry and higher taxes for the nation's top earners. Joining him onstage were people who have benefited from his economic recovery proposals and tax cuts over the last five years, including small business owners, construction workers and homeowners.
Business is up and the national unemployment rate has come down, the president added, and while true economic success ultimately rests with the private sector, he and Congress must also do their part.
"What happens here in Washington makes a difference. What happens up on Capitol Hill is going to help determine not only the pace of our growth but also the quality of jobs, the quality of opportunity for this generation and future generations," the president said. "The problem is, at the moment, Republicans in Congress don't seem to be focused on how to grow the economy and build the middle class."
He called for lawmakers to end the sequester and turn their backs on efforts to "shut down the government at the end of this month if they can't shut down the Affordable Care Act." The president warned that Obamacare will not be a bargaining tool in his budget and debt-ceiling negotiations with Congress. He expressed dismay that some lawmakers appear willing to "tank the entire economy" and reverse any progress made to repeal the health care law and reiterated previous declarations that he will not negotiate the issue.
"Let's stop the threats. Let's stop the political posturing. Let's keep our government open. Let's pay our bills on time. Let's pass a budget," he said. "Let's work together to do what the American people sent us here to do: create jobs, grow our economy, expand opportunity."
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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)