Obama Claims Credit For Growing Economy

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from MSNBC,

p> A confident, often feisty President Barack Obama claimed credit for the improving economy in his State of the Union address Tuesday, chiding Republicans – who won sweeping victories in the 2014 midterm elections – to follow his lead in enacting policies to help the middle class. While pledging pragmatic steps that lawmakers of both parties could embrace, he vowed to push for an agenda to empower Main Street so that prosperity wouldn’t be limited to “a few of us who do spectacularly well.”

It was a noteworthy declaration for Obama, who has often shied from the populist rhetoric animating the Democratic Party’s progressive wing. The president’s plans have already drawn complaints from some Republicans, who call it class warfare.

But Obama remained undeterred, telling lawmakers he would press for legislation to provide paid sick leave and challenging them to raise the minimum wage.

“To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it,” Obama said to applause. “If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”

He also chided Republicans who applauded when he said he had no more campaigns to run. “I know because I won both of them,” he said.

Obama’s address, the sixth of his presidency and the first before a Congress controlled completely by Republicans, came amid clear evidence that the economy is finally coming out of its long post-recession doldrums. Unemployment is at its lowest point since the 2008 crash, consumer confidence has doubled, the GDP has seen a complete turnaround, the deficit has been curbed, and low gas prices are expected to help grow consumer spending. More Americans are satisfied with the economy than at any point in the past 10 years, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll.

The president’s job approval ratings have gotten a lift along with the good economic news, giving him a bit more running room in challenging GOP lawmakers. Among other things, he took a dig at Republican opposition to his policies over his term and a half as president.

“At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” Obama noted. “Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.”

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