Obama Presses Case for Health Law and Wage Increase

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from The New York Times,

President Obama left the White House on Wednesday for one of the capital’s working-class neighborhoods to talk about the economy, not simply to divert attention from the troubles of his Affordable Care Act but also to explain how that law, for all of its flaws, fits into his vision for Americans’ economic security and upward mobility.

That vision — of an economic partnership between government and its citizens — is one that Mr. Obama has described since he was a state senator in Illinois, and it draws on the legacies of three Republican presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

On Wednesday, he reiterated the policies required to carry it out, even though it has long been clear the opposition from Republicans is likely to make many of them unattainable.

“It’s true that government cannot prevent all of the downsides of the technological change and global competition,” the president said. “But,” he added, “we’ve also seen how government action time and again can make an enormous difference in increasing opportunity and bolstering ladders into the middle class.”

After weeks on the defensive about problems with the new health insurance marketplaces, Mr. Obama was at times combative toward Republicans. If they oppose his ideas for addressing “the defining challenge of our time, making sure our economy works for every working American,” then, he said in remarks directed at Republicans, “You owe it to the American people to tell us what you are for.”

The address was intended to echo one he delivered two years ago this month in Osawatomie, Kan., where he honored Roosevelt’s call a century earlier for a “new nationalism.” Drawing historical parallels to past federal investments like land-grant colleges, Depression-era public works, Interstate highways and the G.I. Bill, Mr. Obama on Wednesday pressed for his proposals to promote manufacturing, energy innovations, education, infrastructure projects and more.

Four cabinet members, several Democratic members of Congress, and Mayor Vincent C. Gray of Washington were among the officials on hand, reflecting the importance that the White House had attached to the president’s remarks.

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