(Photo: Reuters/Paul Faith/Pool)
President Barack Obama is launching this week a new series of speeches on his vision for the nation's economy, in an apparent attempt to avert fierce confrontations with Republican lawmakers over taxes and spending as the budget deadlines get nearer.
Obama will deliver his first speech on Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., according to The Associated Press. At this college, Obama had announced his vision for an expanded and strengthened middleclass when he was a new U.S. senator in 2005.
Obama's weeks-long campaign comes as Congress is scheduled to leave for a month-long recess in August, and a new fiscal year starts in October. The government is soon likely to run out of its borrowing limit, and as in previous budget debates, taxes and spending are expected to be the sticking point in negotiations.
"The president thinks Washington has largely taken its eye off the ball on the most important issue facing the country," Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday. "Instead of talking about how to help the middle class, too many in Congress are trying to score political points, refight old battles and trump up phony scandals," he went on to say.
In the next few months, "we will face some more critical budget deadlines that require congressional action, not showdowns that only serve to harm families and businesses – and the president wants to talk about the issues that should be at the core of that debate," Pfeiffer added.
However, Republicans believe higher spending and taxes is not the way to help the economy.
"We welcome the president's focus on the economy, but given that so many are still struggling after nearly five years, it's clear his agenda of higher taxes and higher spending isn't the answer," USA Today quoted Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, as saying.
Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Boehner blamed the nation's economic problems on unnecessary regulations and federal deficit. He said there had been "no increase in jobs that are available" and "wages are being basically frozen."
"We're squeezing the middleclass. And I would argue the president's policies are getting in the way of the economy growing, whether it's Obamacare, whether it's all these needless regulations that are coming out of the government," Boehner said.
Obama appears to be finding ways to avoid this year's federal budget cuts being extended into the next fiscal year.
In his speeches, the president is likely to call for the expansion of manufacturing, healthcare coverage for those still uninsured, a boost to the housing sector and more educational opportunities for pre-schoolers and college students.
The Republican-dominated House is not likely to pass the Senate immigration bill as it is, but Obama might still highlight immigration overhaul's economic impact in his addresses.
Obama will also deliver speeches in rural Warrensburg, Mo., on Wednesday and in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday.