By Scott Wilson and Zachary A. Goldfarb
The Washington Post
GALESBURG, Ill. — President Barack Obama on Wednesday said the fragile economic recovery is being undermined by worsening partisan politics in Washington and urged the country to stand behind him as Republicans try to roll back his vision of government.
Echoing the populist themes that helped him win re-election last year, Obama angrily denounced House Republicans for opposing legislation that he says would benefit the economy and said political obstruction is hampering a steady climb out of the worst recession in generations.
The hour-long speech broke little policy ground but introduced a less-restrained Obama ahead of a major economic debate this fall over the federal budget and the best way to ensure sustained growth.
"The stakes for our middle class could not be higher," Obama told an audience of several hundred at Knox College, a small liberal arts school here that he visited in 2005 as a new U.S. senator.
"The countries that are passive in the face of a global economy will lose the competition for good jobs and high living standards," he continued. "That's why America has to make the investments necessary to promote long-term growth and shared prosperity."
The event here Wednesday was the first in a series of speeches that Obama plans to deliver over the next two months on the economic challenges facing the country, advisers said. The president is seeking to shape the debate over budget priorities — his own and the Republican opposition's — before a divided Congress takes up spending bills this fall.
White House advisers see the budget debate as Obama's last chance to end the deep, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration before Democrats try to recapture full control of Congress next year — a long shot by most estimates. The government will shut down on Sept. 30 without passage of a new measure to fund operations, while Congress will need to raise the federal limit on borrowing by early November or risk default on the national debt.