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Despite Congressional Inaction
Lifted by Economic Growth, Obama Speaks Hopefully of Policies

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—President Barack Obama last week delivered an optimistic report about the effects of the administration’s policies in spite of congressional inaction, buoyed by the announcement that the economy grew more than anticipated in the spring.

The president told a crowd of about 1,500 at the Uptown Theater here that the economic strides were starting to reap rewards, including putting the United States back on top with investors. “The decisions that we made to rescue our economy, to rescue the auto industry, to rebuild the economy on a new foundation, to invest in research and infrastructure, education--all those things are starting to pay off,” he said.

With his shirt sleeves rolled up, President Obama admonished Congress for not doing more to help, a message he has been spreading since promising in his State of the Union address to act alone if necessary to jump-start the economy. “Imagine how much further along we’d be, how much stronger our economy would be, if Congress was doing its job, too,” he said. President Obama recalled a recent bipartisan bill-signing, painting a picture of lawmakers smiling side by side in their suits.

“Nobody is shouting at each other,” he said to laughter. “It was really nice. I said: ‘Let’s do this again. Let’s do it more often.’ ”

The president was informal and relaxed, interacting with a crowd that was quick to respond, cheering and booing--a bit of a foil to a number of signs outside the theater before his speech protesting his policies on immigration, the conflict in Gaza and other issues.

With just a couple days left before Congress leaves for a five-week recess despite unresolved issues including the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs and the depleted Highway Trust Fund looming, the president told the crowd what lawmakers were doing in Washington: The House was preparing to vote on whether to authorize Speaker John A. Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama on accusations of overstepping his executive authority.

President Obama said that many had called it a political stunt—and one for which taxpayers would foot the bill.

“It’s worse than that because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to actually help you,” he said.

The news that the economy had performed better than expected during the last quarter seemed to energize President Obama as he spoke at the theater, an old building with painted stucco walls that opened in 1928 and once offered an escape for many during the Great Depression.

After landing in Kansas City, President Obama spent an hour at Arthur Bryant’s, a popular barbecue restaurant, greeting diners and sitting down for ribs with four people who had written to him about their struggles and successes.

Each evening, President Obama reads a number of letters from people, and recently he has started dining with a few of them when he is in their area.

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