Obama tells nation: I’ll act on my own

President Obama used his weekly address Saturday to sharpen his case that Republicans are standing in the way of his ideas to help the middle class.

Obama’s address largely echoed his Friday comments in Minnesota, and come just over four months before a midterm election in which Democrats are desperately trying to maintain control of the Senate. 

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Republicans, Obama said Friday, have just this year opposed efforts to raise the minimum wage, extend unemployment insurance, overhaul the student loan system and install pay equity for women.

All the while, Obama added, the GOP is still pushing to give tax cuts to the highest earners, at a time when the president said the economy had improved but still needed more help.

“This obstruction keeps the system rigged for those at the top, and rigged against the middle class. And as long as they insist on doing it, I’ll keep taking actions on my own – like the actions I’ve taken already to attract new jobs, lift workers’ wages, and help students pay off their loans,” Obama said. 

Obama’s comments come just days after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that Republicans were planning to sue the president for what they see as overstepping authority with executive actions.

The president has since dubbed that lawsuit a “stunt,” and again suggested that the GOP should instead concentrate on coming together on policy solutions. The Commerce Department also reported this week that the economy contracted much more than originally thought during the first three months of the year.

“I’ll do my job,” Obama said. “And if it makes Republicans in Congress mad that I’m trying to help people out, they can join me, and we’ll do it together.”

Obama’s tough tone, both in the weekly address and in other recent comments, show that the midterm campaign is about to heat up.

Democrats have been signaling for months that they would pound populist economic themes this midterm year, a strategy that also worked for Obama when he won reelection in 2012.

In his weekly address, Obama told voters to expect more of the same over the next week. In particular, Obama said he would be pushing for tax breaks for families, and to take away preferences for corporations that move jobs abroad.

 “The point is, we could do so much more as a country – as a strong, tight-knit family – if Republicans in Congress were less interested in stacking the deck for those at the top, and more interested in growing the economy for everybody,” Obama said.