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Obama gears up for another round of budget debates

By Matthew Rusling (Xinhua)

13:05, July 25, 2013

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama kicked off a spate of economic speeches Wednesday in a bid to promote his party's message ahead of the next round of budget debates, experts said Wednesday.

Obama's speech focused on the economy's progress since it took a nose dive and sparked a worldwide downturn, but the president reiterated past arguments that the economy is still not where it ought to be.

"Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth," he told an audience Wednesday in Galesburg, Illinois.

"Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent. And as Washington prepares to enter another budget debate, the stakes for our middle class could not be higher," Obama said.

Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua that the speech is a push by Obama and the White House to get their messaging out in advance of the upcoming debt ceiling and budget debates.

The White House wants Congress to raise the debt level but the House Republicans said they would take no action on that issue unless budget cuts are made first.

Republicans said that Obama's speeches are a rehash of old ideas the administration has been pushing over the last four years. But Mahaffee said Obama's sticking to his message will resonate with the American public, as it is the same economic message that served him well in the 2012 election.

"However, in reality, neither the president nor Republicans have really been able to implement their economic agenda," he said, adding that many believe the economy is doing well despite the political deadlock.

The White House feels that repeating its message and arguing for a "stay the course" strategy is effective, Mahaffee added.

While the economy has slowly improved since the economic downturn, June unemployment was unchanged at 7.6 percent with no sign of tamping down to acceptable levels anytime soon. Some economists argue that at the current rate the job market will not return to pre-recession jobless levels for years to come.

Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told Xinhua that the U.S. economy still tops Americans' list of concerns, so the president needs to talk about it.

"I think the speech's success will be judged on whether he has new ideas, whether he can move them forward in Washington, and whether they will move the hard economic numbers in a positive direction," Bowman said.

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