President Barack Obama spoke to a crowd in Detroit on Monday, expressing confidence and little fear as he urged Americans to work together to rebuild the economy. His remarks follow Friday’s jobs report which was considered worse than expected. The nation’s unemployment rate has shown no improvement, staying at 9.1 percent.
In his Labor Day speech, Obama called for bipartisanship in order to solve the country’s economic problems, saying the "time for Washington games is over."
"We're going to see if we've got some straight shooters. We're going to see if congressional Republicans can put country before party."
Obama is scheduled to deliver a jobs speech before a joint session of Congress on Thursday. His remarks on Monday at the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO-sponsored event were considered a preview of his upcoming speech.
Calling the economic downturn "the central challenge we face in our country today," Obama challenged congressional Republicans to support items that have received bipartisan support in the past.
"Prove you’ll fight just as hard for tax cuts to middle class families as you do for oil companies," he said.
"We’ve got a lot more work to do to recover fully from this recession. We’ve got to fully restore the middle class in America."
Obama drew the loudest applause when he expressed support for bargaining.
"As long as I’m in the White House, I’m going to stand up for collective bargaining," he said.
The crowd erupted, chanting "four more years."
The president acknowledged that times are tough. But he stressed, “[W]e've been through tough times before.
“I don't know about you, but I'm not scared of tough times. I'm not scared of tough times because I know we're going to be all marching together and walking together and working together and rebuilding together and I know we don't quit. I know we don't give up our dreams and settle for something less."
"I don’t want to give everything away right here because I want you all to tune in on Thursday,” Obama said.
Though Obama expressed no fear about the tough economy, a recent poll reveals that American workers’ concerns about jobs are at record highs. Thirty percent of workers say they are worried they could soon be laid off, according to Gallup. The latest statistic is double the percentage of American workers who said the same in 2008.
“When workers are worried about their jobs and their income more broadly, this is likely to affect broader economic confidence, the housing market, and consumer spending,” Gallup reported.